It’s Day 12 of our 30 Day Summer Family Fun Challenge and we hope you are using some of our ideas to make this the most fun summer EVER for your family.
Today we are suggesting a Picnic in the Park. No matter what age your kids, from baby to teens, time spent outdoors in the park is good family fun. You can make it a nice intimate family event or invite your friends and make it a party. (These tips are also great for taking the family to a local outdoor concert. In Chicago, we have Ravinia which stages several kid-friendly outdoor concerts. While I love going on a date with my husband and enjoying wine, cheese, and great music, I also like taking the kids for a totally different experience.)
Here are some of the Picnic Essentials that you need for the whole family. Further down I’ve given you some suggestions for additional items for babies, toddlers, and older kids.
- Disposable dinnerware, cutlery and napkins (to make clean up easy) or eco-friendly lunch bags and water bottles to reuse again and again
- Trash bags
- Water, to drink it is obvious but we end up using it to clean kids clothes or faces while at the park
- Hand sanitizer or wipes
- Maybe toilet paper, depending on how long you are planning to picnic
- Sun protection: hats, sunscreen lotion, sun glasses
- Bug spray
- Plastic table cloths or a large picnic blanket to lay on the ground
- Ziploc bags to take home any leftover food
- A camera to capture the chocolate cake moments
Some of our favorite places to picnic are the local forest preserves (we usually ride our bikes and have a picnic), Ravinia or your version of a local outdoor concert venue, botanical gardens, or the beach. Don’t forget tourist attractions as a great place to picnic. This blog post by Travels with Baby reminds us that you don’t have to go inside a Museum to enjoy the visit. Or, picnic outside to save money on expensive meals and then hit the Museum.
With a baby, it’s nice to just sit outside and enjoy the sunshine. Make sure you protect your little one with bug spray and suntan lotion if they will be laying out directly in the sun. If they are still too young to be mobile, protect your baby from bugs and the harsh sun with a car seat cover or hooded tent.
We also suggest taking a play blanket so baby can roll around on the ground without the worry of bugs or grass stains. Look for a play blanket that is super soft on one side and water repellant on the other, so even if the ground is a little wet with dew, baby will stay dry. The blanket can also serves as a great windbreaker if the weather changes while you are out.
If you are breast feeding, your food menu is pretty easy. Otherwise, bring baby food in an insulated lunch bag.
If you don’t want to worry about eating a full lunch or dinner in the park, definitely bring some non-perishable kid-friendly snacks like goldfish, cheerios, granola bars, and crackers. You know the drill. Something to snack on that doesn’t need to be kept cool. You might want to bring an extra blanket in case they get tired and want to nap or get cold.
Why not give your kids their own Picnic Basket set to bring along or play picnic in the backyard while you are packing up the car or getting the bikes ready?
Try the Super Parachute Game to keep the kids amused.
Tweens and Teens
It’s all about the food and the games at this point. What kinds of fun foods do we get to eat at the park and what games can we play in the open area? Go ahead Mom, amaze them.
Some of our favorite games & activities at a picnic:
- Bocce Ball
- Baggo Set
- Washer Horseshoe Game
- Paddle Ball
- Kite, if windy enough
- Remote control airplane
- Pump rockets
- Football or glove and baseball
- Photo Hunt – give the kids a camera and see who can take the best nature photos
Are you bringing a grill or have access to a grill? Do you want to keep it simple with sandwiches and salads? There is so much you can cook or bring to make a picnic fun, just for the good eats. But hey, no pressure on the cooking. We’ve had some very fun family picnics where we just grabbed take-out sandwiches or grabbed prepared food at Whole Foods, on our way to the picnic site.
Remember to leave the park as you found it. Pick up your mess!
Where do you like to picnic with the family? Want to share a favorite picnic recipe with us? We’d love it.