It’s not easy being a master of all trades—but that doesn’t stop us from trying. To help you in the ever-ongoing pursuit of thriving in your career, your personal life and beyond, we’re debuting a new series called Keep It 100 in partnership with Dole Packaged Foods. Each week, we’ll share helpful hacks and tips on how to balance the various interests in your life, and help you keep it at 100 every day.
With spring just around the corner, the longer, sunnier days are giving us more reasons to unplug, decompress, and head outdoors. While lazy two-hour Saturday brunches are on your usual weekend programming, when the temps start rising, we all have one to-do: host a picnic.
Picnicking can be a work of art. From finding (and fighting for) the perfect grassy nook with a view of a pond (if you're so lucky), to putting together a gorgeous spread, some creativity and artfulness are required for noshing and picture-taking with ease. But perfecting a picturesque picnic-scape—the kind that ends up on everyone’s social feeds—takes a bit of finesse and the right gear.
Ahead, we've put together the 13 best made-for-picnic upgrades to outfit your spread, along with hearty menu suggestions to add to your usual cheese and charcuterie fare. Consider this your checklist to keep it 100 and create the ultimate picnic spread. Ready to start packing?
Step 1: Think About Your Décor
The mark of a successful picnic is how much conversation and sustenance you have to keep the party going. To help encourage people to truly relax, kick off their heels (literally), and enjoy good company, start with making a comfy environment with layers of blankets, throws, and cushions.
First, pick a couple different picnic blankets and layer them on top of each other to extend the real estate. Don't worry if they don't completely match. Bring an extra throw for people to bundle up in should a breeze come by, and add in a few cushions for guests to lean against.
Step 2: Plan Your Plating
While the park is no place for your wedding china, that doesn't mean your plating can't be considered. When it comes to plates and utensils, opt for paper over plastic (think green), and find a fun patterned theme to add to your decorative elements, like these adorable pineapple dishes.
Step 3: Elevate Your Finger Foods
Cheese and Charcuterie
First impressions are everything, so to start, all eyes will be on that cheese board—here's where you should make some indulgent choices.
- Pick out a few cheeses with a variety of textures and flavor profiles; think soft, semi-firm, firm and aged, creamy, and crumbly.
- Consider a similar treatment for your charcuterie mix as well, like thinly sliced jamón Ibérico and cured sausages such as a dried spicy salami.
- Finally, fill in any gaps with seasoned nuts, dried apricots, or an assortment of olives.
Fruit is the easiest way to add something crisp and colorful to your spread, but who's got the time to wash, cut, and pack them? Instead, opt for prepackaged portable fruit, like DOLE FRUIT BOWLS®. Bonus: These snacks are packed in 100% juice, so you know exactly what you're getting. Pick up an assortment, like cherry mixed fruit, diced peaches, and mandarin oranges.
Skewered food aren’t just for barbecued meats anymore; they make for a polished and clean aesthetic when it comes to dishes that could otherwise be messy, like salads. We suggest trying out skewered wedge salads. Chop up iceberg lettuce into one-inch cubes, and place them onto a skewer along with halved grape tomatoes and small slices of fried bacon. Arrange them in rows on a serving tray, and drizzle blue-cheese dressing on top.
Everyone loves a good savory, bite-size pastry. For a unique spin on spinach-and-artichoke dip, opt for flaky spinach dip bites. They’re a mixture of garlic, spinach, and artichoke hearts with three kinds of cheeses—mozzarella, cream cheese and Parmesan—and stuffed in little crescent dough squares in mini muffin tins. Just bake them for 15 minutes or so, and you’ll have these decadent, ooey-gooey finger foods that will be sure to go quickly.
Make Your Food Portable
Do you feel like you’ve got your picnic-scape ready? Pack your basket; this weekend’s forecast looks sunny.