Woman and man enjoying a family picnic outdoors with their two children

Picnic Planning 101: Picnic Ideas for Your Next Outing

Escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life with a relaxing picnic. Outdoor picnics offer the perfect blend of leisure and delicious food. Whether it’s a serene afternoon in the park, a beachside retreat, or a mountain getaway, these picnic ideas will surely excite you.

Food lies at the core of a successful picnic. It’s important to choose foods you love, travel well, and cater to everyone’s dietary preferences. From classic sandwiches and salads to gourmet spreads and decadent desserts, the options are endless.

In this blog post, we’ll walk you through the art of picnic planning, from how to plan the perfect picnic to the best picnic food ideas. Pack your basket, grab a blanket, and let’s embark on a culinary journey and elevated picnic experience.

  • How to Plan the Perfect Picnic
  • The Best Picnic Food Ideas
  • Fun Picnic Activities
  • Tips for a Successful Picnic
  • Elevate Your Picnic Experience

How to Plan the Perfect Picnic 

From the location to the theme, essentials, and menu, these easy steps will help you pull off the perfect picnic. 

1. Choose a location

The right location can make all the difference for your picnic adventure. Whether you prefer a tranquil park, a picturesque lakeside spot, or a secluded beach cove, the ambiance and surroundings play a vital role in enhancing the picnic experience. 

Consider factors like weather, accessibility, facilities, and the overall atmosphere to ensure a comfortable outing. For example, you might prefer a location with picnic tables or restrooms. Popular picnic spots include local parks, botanical gardens, nature reserves, and even your own backyard. 

2. Pick a theme

While it’s not required, adding a theme to your picnic can elevate the fun and excitement of the event. Choosing a picnic theme is an excellent idea if you’re hosting a birthday party, baby shower, brunch, or any other type of celebration. You might go with a rustic countryside theme with gingham blankets and mason jar drinks or pull off a beach theme with tropical decorations and fruity cocktails. Choosing a specific theme can help inspire your menu, decor, and even attire. 

3. Gather your picnic essentials

Ensure your picnic goes off without a hitch by gathering all the essentials ahead of time. Important picnic equipment includes a durable blanket to sit on, a cooler or picnic basket to store and transport food, plates, cups, utensils, napkins, and a corkscrew for wine enthusiasts. Depending on the location, you may also bring sunscreen, insect repellent, and a portable speaker for some background music.

4. Plan your menu 

One of the most important aspects of your picnic is the food. When planning your picnic food ideas, choose a mix of foods that are easy to eat and travel well. Typical picnic foods include sandwiches, salads, dips, and desserts that are portable and require minimal assembly. To make things easier, pack items in leak-proof containers and use insulated bags or coolers to keep items fresh.

Don’t forget to consider your guests and accommodate any dietary restrictions or preferences to ensure everyone enjoys the meal. 

Delicious picnic food ideas  spread on a cozy blanket

The Best Picnic Food Ideas

From classic picnic staples to innovative new recipes, these picnic food ideas are sure to impress. In this section, we’ll go over delectable picnic lunch ideas that are perfect for packing and enjoying alfresco. 


  • Classic turkey or ham sandwich: A crowd favorite featuring layers of savory deli meat, crisp lettuce, juicy tomatoes, and creamy condiments. Extra points for making sandwiches with freshly baked bread!
  • Veggie sandwich: Cater to your vegetarian and vegan friends by making veggie sandwiches packed with a colorful array of fresh vegetables like cucumbers, bell peppers, avocado, and sprouts. 
  • Chicken salad sandwich: Break out your family recipe book to whip up this picnic classic. A creamy and satisfying sandwich, this recipe combines tender chunks of chicken, crunchy celery, sweet grapes, and tangy mayo.


  • Cranberry turkey wraps: A delightful fusion of sweet and savory flavors reminiscent of Thanksgiving dinner, this wrap effortlessly combines succulent turkey and tangy cranberry sauce.
  • BLT wraps: Everyone loves a BLT, so why not make it a wrap? Roll up a soft tortilla with the classic combination of crispy bacon, fresh lettuce, ripe tomatoes, and creamy mayonnaise. 
  • Baked falafel wraps: Bursting with flavor, this vegetarian option features crispy falafel balls, crunchy veggies, creamy hummus, and tangy tahini sauce for a satisfying and nutritious meal. 


  • Cesar pasta salad: This pasta version of the traditional Caesar salad combines pasta shells, romaine lettuce, Caesar dressing, parmesan cheese, and crunchy croutons. Pack the croutons in a separate container to maintain their crunch.
  • Watermelon salad with feta: Perfect for hot summer days, this refreshing and vibrant salad features juicy watermelon chunks, tangy feta cheese, fresh mint leaves, and a drizzle of balsamic glaze. 
  • Salade Niçoise: A French-inspired salad showcasing a medley of ingredients such as tuna, hard-boiled eggs, green beans, tomatoes, olives, and potatoes for a unique and protein-filled meal. 


  • Deviled eggs: Finger foods make the perfect picnic snacks. Pack some deviled eggs for a zesty and flavorful snack. 
  • Cookies and brownies: Indulge your sweet tooth with tasty and portable desserts. There are many types of cookies and brownies you can bring to your picnic to finish the meal on a sweet note. 
  • Charcuterie board: Take your picnic to new heights with an elevated spread of cured meats, artisanal cheese, crackers, olives, nuts, and dried fruit. Perfect for a more sophisticated gathering. 
  • Fruit salad: Out of all the classic picnic snacks, fruit salad reigns supreme. A refreshing blend of fresh fruits such as strawberries, grapes, melon, pineapple, and berries create a delicious and nutritious snack. 

Fun Picnic Activities 

A great picnic doesn’t have to stop at just food. Enhance your picnic experience with engaging activities that add an extra layer of fun to your outdoor gathering. Whether you need picnic date ideas or activities for large groups, we’ve got you covered. 

  • Outdoor games: Classic games like frisbee, badminton, or soccer get everyone moving and enjoying the outdoors. You can also try lawn games such as cornhole, ladder toss, or horseshoes. 
  • Nature scavenger hunt: Create a nature-themed scavenger hunt with items found outdoors, such as a feather, acorn, wildflower, or interesting rock. This picnic idea is great for groups with kids. 
  • Picnic DIY crafts: Get creative with some picnic-themed DIY crafts that can be enjoyed by kids and adults alike. 
  • Picnic cookie exchange: Who said a cookie exchange is just for the holidays? Host a picnic cookie exchange where everyone brings their favorite recipes and treats to share. 
  • Stargazing: Evening picnics are perfect for taking advantage of the clear skies for a bit of stargazing.
Group of friends enjoying an evening picnic

Tips for a Successful Picnic 

To execute these picnic ideas with ease, follow these simple steps for a successful picnic: 

  • Consider the weather. Check the weather forecast before heading out to avoid rain or extreme temperatures. 
  • Pack picnic essentials. Don’t forget to pack essential items such as a blanket or picnic mat to sit on, utensils, a cooler, and a trash bag for cleanup.
  • Ensure food options are easy to transport and eat. Choose foods that are easy to transport and enjoy outdoors. Ditch the fork and knife and opt for finger foods instead. 
  • Don’t forget the drinks. Bring plenty of drinks to stay hydrated throughout the day. Pack drinks in reusable bottles or insulated containers to keep them cool and have plenty of water on hand. 
  • Prevent perishable items from spoiling. Prevent food from spoiling by packing perishable items in a cooler with ice packs or frozen gel packs. 
  • Look for picnic locations with additional amenities. Select a picnic spot with picnic tables, shade, and access to restrooms to make your picnic experience more comfortable.
  • Have fun. Relax and enjoy the experience, ensuring you spend quality time with loved ones while enjoying the great outdoors. 

    Elevate Your Picnic Experience

    As you prepare for your next picnic adventure, remember that you can transform a simple outing into a memorable event with a little planning and creativity. We’ve explored many picnic ideas filled with delicious food, fun activities, and cherished moments. From choosing the perfect spot to packing must-have items, picnics offer an opportunity to unwind, connect with nature, and create lasting memories. 

    Make your next picnic even more memorable by adding Mrs. Fields® cookies to your outdoor dining spread. From red velvet to chocolate chip, frosted sugar, and beyond, Mrs. Fields® cookies and treats are the perfect addition to your picnic. Gather your picnic essentials and prepare to enjoy a day outside with delicious goodies to ensure an unforgettable picnic. 

    Back to blog