Your go-to picnic packing list

Feb 28, 2023

I’ve always loved being outdoors and all things natural, so it’s no surprise I’m a big picnic fan. The sight of a beautifully laid-out picnic is just so magical to me. Gorgeous tableware, colourful picnic blankets, fresh fruit and flowers, the best non-alcoholic sparkling wine in mismatched glasses…I just love it!

Picnic set up at the park with non-alcoholic drinks

And if it isn’t obvious already, I absolutely love hosting and entertaining. But, even if you’re not an avid cook or entertainer, a little bit of preparation makes having your very own perfect picnic moment simple. If you’ve ever dreamed of frolicking in a meadow with a beautiful picnic basket laden with goodies, here’s the ultimate packing guide to make your dreams come true. 

1. Picnic basket

Picnic baskets might look old-fashioned and whimsical, but that doesn’t mean they can’t also be really practical. Here’s how I go about finding the right picnic basket. The first is carrying options. Most picnic baskets have short handles but for those who often have a lot of things to lug around, a shoulder strap comes in really handy. Next is the basket size. I usually go for something that can accommodate groups of 4 so I can easily scale up or down. Plus, a bigger basket means more storage room for picnic accessories, picnic drinks and picnic food! Lastly, it’s making sure the basket is well-insulated to ensure your picnic goods can stay fresh and cool.

2. Blankets, seating & more

At the bare minimum, you’ll need to pack a picnic blanket. For a more considered look, I love to find beautiful old tablecloths from op shops, and lay these over a heavier waterproof blanket. If you really want to up the ante or you have older guests coming, you can use the same tablecloths over a portable picnic table and add some optional folding chairs. A bonus with a table is your food can stay off the ground away from creepy crawlies that might want a bite. 

3. Picnic food

I wouldn’t be the hostess with the mostest if I wasn’t making sure my picnic featured plenty of picnic food. I like to take my time and come up with a cohesive menu that pairs beautifully with the beverages I’m bringing. You don’t need to get super fancy though, the key is preparation. I always pre-slice or cut anything that needs to be portioned out — and even if we end up ordering takeaway or something, I plan ahead and bring takeaway containers or tupperware to make the cleanup of leftovers easy.

4. Picnic drinks

Some things might be negotiable for picnic packing (you don’t want to end up with everything but the kitchen sink!), but picnic drinks are not one of them. So, let me guide you on what drinks to bring to a picnic.

Look, I might be biased, but for me, there’s just nothing better than non-alcoholic drinks

Just think of how the best non-alcoholic drinks stack up against the hard stuff:

  • They actually provide refreshment instead of dehydrating you. 
  • They don’t drain your energy or make you sleepy while you’re watching the kids or playing a picnic game. 
  • They’re a crowd pleaser, no matter who you invite.
  • There’s a wide selection that pairs well with whatever menu you have planned. 
  • You can drive home afterwards and still get a good night’s sleep. 
  • No hangovers the next day!

I know everyone’s taste is different, so here are my top picks for non-alcoholic wines and beers to suit anyone’s palette. 

The best non-alcoholic red wine Next Destination 2018 Barossa Valley Shiraz

The best non-alcoholic white wine Two Hoots Non-Alcoholic Chenin Blanc

The best non-alcoholic rosé Next Destination 2018 King Valley Rosé

The best non-alcoholic sparkling wine Next Destination 2021 Langhorne Creek Blanc de Blanc

The best non-alcoholic beer for a crowd Non-Alcoholic Craft Beer Mix Pack

And for those who love the convenience of RTD bevvies at a picnic as much as I do — at Ms Sans and Sans Bar, we’ve been working on something new and delicious that is the perfect picnic drink companion.

Ms Sans Mojito — minty and fresh, this basically already tastes like a beach holiday in a can.

Ms Sans Passionfruit Caprioska — blended with Brazillian rum and tropical passionfruit, this is the kind of drink I want waiting for me after a dip in the ocean.

Sans Bar G&T — this is a great classic for any picnic table. A cold gin and tonic is always a good idea!

Sans Bar Spritz — our semi-bitter Italian style spritz is a great choice for anyone who doesn’t have a super sweet tooth. I love how the bitterness cuts through sweet treats or chocolates that you might be snacking on too.

5. Keep it cool 

Now that you’ve got your delicious drinks down, the last thing you want is for everything to start cooking in the sun. As well as your picnic basket, a canvas drinks bag, esky, or even a big beach bucket filled with ice is a must for making sure that everything is ice cold and stays refreshing. 

If you have an enthusiastic mate that’s not great at planning ahead, I recommend assigning them the task of picking up bags of ice from a servo on the way.

6. Plates, glasses & utensils 

If you don’t have a picnic basket that has them, you’ll need to pack plates, glasses and utensils. Choose bamboo or other recyclable material that won’t hurt the earth. For glasses, I again turn to mismatched glass from the op shop that I keep only for picnics. It feels a little bit elevated and much better than plastic. 

7. Napkins, wipes & sanitiser

There’s bound to be mess, so bring plenty of wipes, hand sanitiser and napkins to help keep kids clean and everyone hygienic. I actually leave these things in my picnic basket all year round — that way I’m never caught short when something inevitable happens!

8. Flowers

This is one of those things that other people might not consider essential, but for me, it’s a must-have. Fresh flowers immediately add a beautiful touch to any table, and they’re the ideal eco-friendly decorations. I choose 2 or 3 bouquets of seasonal blooms and mix them together for a bohemian-inspired look. 

9. Sun protection

Don’t forget to slip, slop slap! Bring your SPF 50+ sunscreen, a broad-brimmed hat and cool layers of clothing that cover your arms and legs to ensure you can safely enjoy the rays all day.

10. Rubbish bag

Finally, a gentle reminder to make sure you leave nature as beautiful and untouched as you found it so others can enjoy it too. A big rubbish bag will help you take care of any mess.

I’m always collecting new tips and tricks for entertaining and making the most of your time in the sun, so make sure you’re following me on Instagram so you never miss an update. While you’re here, sign up for my newsletter to hear about all the newest products I think you’ll love (and the latest special offers too).

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