Pack the Perfect Fall Picnic

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Pink Picnic Blanket | Picnic Basket | Lazy Susan | Rattan Tray {similar} | Andrew's Shirt | Andrew's Shorts | Andrew's Shoes {similar} | My Shoes | My Brown Boater Hat | My Lipstick | My Lip Pencil | Bonnie’s Leash | Bonnie’s Water Bottle

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Is there a better way to enjoy the glory of autumn than with a perfect fall picnic? Fall is my favorite time of year, mostly because I grew up in Southern California, where jewel-toned leaves are basically nonexistent. Summer picnics might get all the praise, but as an autumn-loving girl, I prefer this season for eating outside. Cooler temperatures, fewer bugs, and if I’m really really lucky, a golden leaf or two. I love the little memory-making moments of fall even more than the foliage, like enjoying an afternoon with family and friends. After all, fall is the epitome of slowing down, spending time together, and all things delicious… so why not combine the three and throw your own picnic?

A fall picnic on a pink gingham blanket, decorated with autumn inspired foods and orange flowers. There are two glasses filled with rosé wine, and a two platters filled with pears, figs, peaches, apples, cheese, crackers, nuts dried fruits, and a baguette.

Pick The Perfect Spot

Just because the weather has cooled off doesn’t mean you have to head indoors for good. With a bagged lunch, a thermos, and a quilt from the backseat of the car, you can still have that picnic you were too busy to plan in August. Choose the perfect location for your fall picnic! No matter where you are planning on heading, pick a flat spot that has lots of room to move around. Be sure to choose a spot with shade so the sun isn’t beating down on you or the food.

Be sure to check the weather! The biggest problem a fall picnic could run into is the weather. You can’t change it, so make sure to check the forecast the night before and the morning of so you can arrange your schedule accordingly.

A woman in a pink dress holds her black and tan Pomeranian at a fall themed picnic. She is sitting on a pink blanket and leaning against a pink pillow.
There are two glasses filled with rosé wine on top of a piece of wood onto of a pink napkin that is in a rattan tray. There are pink pillows in the background. There is also half a grapefruit, half a peach, and a sliced fig on the rattan tray

Prep and Package

Preparation is key for a successful picnic. Bundle silverware and napkins, tag drinks and beverages with names to avoid mix-ups later, and pre-portion food into individual containers. No need for extra serving spoons. For kiddos, make grab-and-go snacks to make your life easier. I like to prep the night before because I want to make sure that I’m relaxed and get to enjoy the picnic too! 

Have Some Fun with the Fall Picnic Menu

On the face of it this is a picnic like any other. But with a little time spent on your ideas for your fall picnic food, you can turn this particular shindig into one to remember. When planning an outdoor festivity, consider switching out traditional summer fare for autumnal options. Try bringing a couple of thick slices of pumpkin bread and a few jars of hearty make-ahead salads. From snacks and sides to hearty main courses, think about how you can infuse all into your dishes.

Picnic food should not be overly complicated. A hearty salad and a favorite sandwich can be enough. While a picnic in the park is a simple and great way to spend time with friends, here are a few tips for food that I use to take a basic picnic menu and elevate it a bit:

Cheese, please

A cheese board is a great option for the menu. You’ll have a great time talking and leisurely munching. No need to feel pressured to eat all at once, or to keep any of the ingredients warm, yet you’ll still be fancy af. With fall’s mild temps, cheese will sit happily outside. A good cheese board should give your guests as wide a range, so bring a variety of textures to the party. Look for cheeses of contrasting texture and mix it up with soft and firm, creamy and crumbly. Add crackers, bread, dried and fresh fruit, a jar of fig jam, and don’t forget a knife and cutting board. 

A close up shot of a cheese board at a fall picnic on a pink gingham blanket, decorated with autumn inspired foods and orange flowers.
A fall picnic on a pink gingham blanket, decorated with autumn inspired foods and orange flowers. There are two glasses filled with rosé wine, and a two platters filled with pears, figs, peaches, apples, cheese, crackers, nuts dried fruits, and a baguette.

Snacks and drinks

Transfer snacks to wooden bowls or a rolled-down brown lunch bag for a more tied-together look. No one likes to reach deep into a greasy bag. Fruit is a must. Grapes taste delicious with cheese, and they’re oh so so portable. One bunch of grapes and a few sliced peaches, if they’re still in season. Figs give the best fall vibes ever. Do that. A dozen cookies, minimum. That’s obviously not negotiable.

If you live somewhere cooler than I do, then your fall outing should include a thermos with a hot drink to warm you from the inside out. My favorites are a hot apple cider or a spiced mulled wine. For the rest of us, skip the lemonade and the classic six-pack and stock a cute tub with beverages, such as sparkling water and rosé, or get seasonal with it and add pumpkin ale and apple wine. Oh, and don’t forget water. Stay hydrated, friends.

A fall picnic on a pink gingham blanket, decorated with autumn inspired foods and orange flowers. There are two glasses filled with rosé wine, and a two platters filled with pears, figs, peaches, apples, cheese, crackers, nuts dried fruits, and a baguette.
A bottle of rosé sits inside a unique basket made for carrying wine. The basket is tied with a yellow bow.
A fall picnic on a pink gingham blanket, decorated with autumn inspired foods and orange flowers. There are two glasses filled with rosé wine, and a two platters filled with pears, figs, peaches, apples, cheese, crackers, nuts dried fruits, and a baguette.

Think apples

Apples are the obvious – if not too obvious – choice. Hearty, sweet, and very fall-esque, apples are generally beloved by all. Consider visiting one of the last summer farmer’s markets or an apple orchard for ingredients. Freshly-picked apples you’ve stocked up on the day before can infuse sandwiches, sides, and desserts with a bit of fall goodness. Apples are very substantial, and since they hold up well in most recipes you really can’t go wrong! Try making an apple galette the night before, or slice them ahead of time. Dip the slices in water with a bit of lemon to keep the apples from browning. 

A Fall Picnic for two

Bring half of each salad recipe you make. You don’t want to run out, but you don’t want too much left over either. So if you make a grain salad, just bring two or three servings. Two sandwiches, max. If you’re going the cheese and crackers route, stick with an assortment, but bring half of each. One bottle of wine and a few bottles of good craft beer should work. As for smaller snacks, stay away from carting in the whole heavy glass jar around. Just put a few olives or pickles in a smaller jar or resealable container, and off you go!

A fall picnic on a pink gingham blanket, decorated with autumn inspired foods and orange flowers. There are two glasses filled with rosé wine, and a two platters filled with pears, figs, peaches, apples, cheese, crackers, nuts dried fruits, and a baguette.
A woman in a pink dress holds her black and tan Pomeranian at a fall themed picnic. She is sitting on a pink blanket and leaning against a pink pillow. Her husband is kissing her on the cheek. He has blonde hair and is wearing a pink shirt and blue glasses.
A woman in a pink dress and brown boater hat holds a basket with a bottle of wine. Her husband holds their black and tan Pomeranian and a round picnic basket. They are walking to set up their fall picnic.
A fall picnic on a pink gingham blanket, decorated with autumn inspired foods and orange flowers. There are two glasses filled with rosé wine, and a two platters filled with pears, figs, peaches, apples, cheese, crackers, nuts dried fruits, and a baguette. This shows a close up of brown clogs and tan Sperry's.

For a crowd

When picnicking with a larger group, say 6-8 people, you’ll need to think in more technical terms. Bring one batch of each salad recipe. For cheeses, plan to have 2-3 ounces per person for each type. If you’re serving other sides, there’s no need for more than 12-16 ounces of each cheese you choose. Crackers are easier than bread, but by all means bring that baguette or beautiful french loaf. Instead of slicing, have guests rips off chunks as needed. Three bottles of wine and a couple of beers per person do it. If you want more of a party rather than a relaxing picnic, have others bring their favorite fall drinks. This time, you might need to lug around a whole jar of pickles or olives.

Remember, the more options you have, the less you need of each one. 

Gather your Fall Picnic Supplies

If you look closely, and you’ll see that our spiffy little picnic uses supplies you probably already own. Antique supplies add a sense of nostalgia, so be sure to check your house for items you already own before you purchase anything new. Pumpkins, pears, and apples are natural fall centerpieces.

Thrift a picnic basket

A classic for a reason: light, pretty, easy to fill with goodies and carry. Definitely check out your local thrift stores to save a pretty penny (why are baskets so expensive?). I am always stumbling upon cute baskets in thrift stores! Check around your home for wood crates and wire baskets you might have on hand. These can help corral things like plates and silverware!

A fall picnic on a pink gingham blanket, decorated with autumn inspired foods and orange flowers. There are two glasses filled with rosé wine, and a two platters filled with pears, figs, peaches, apples, cheese, crackers, nuts dried fruits, and a baguette.
A woman in a pink dress and brown boater hat holds a basket with a bottle of wine and a pink and tan picnic basket
an adorable Pomeranian sits in an empty picnic basket looking up at you. She is black and tan and has a pink leash.

A great blanket is a must

Pack at least one blanket! Blankets, throws, and quilts are perfect ground cover. I love to bring extra pillows and blankets for snuggling or spreading on the grass, especially if the weather is a little chilly. Comfort is key here, people! Don’t be afraid to really bring the indoors out with pretty throw pillows. If you’d rather not sit on the ground, simply throw one over a park picnic table for instant style. Even on a sunny day, the ground may be holding moisture with plans to ruin your picnic. You don’t want to take a chance of ruining your blankets, so bring along a plastic tarp to layer under your main picnic blanket. You can buy an insulated, weather-proof picnic blanket to help with this.

Think about your serving pieces

Disposable is convenient, but let’s chat about the virtues of reusable plates and silverware. I tend to use real plates, silverware, etc. Why, you might ask? Because I have actually lost count of how many picnics have been ruined by an evil gust of wind. One time an entire table was cleared of literally everything, all because it was cheap and lightweight paper. Pretty plates and silverware instantly make any event feel more special – and they won’t tragically snap while you are cutting a crisp apple. Once everything is done, all of your materials can be easily gathered up and washed at home – ready to be used again for your next picnic! Plus, reusable is simply better for the environment. Get with it! 

Ceramic plates are a little heavy and easily breakable. If you happen to have melamine plates or pie tins on hand, those might work best! Wooden boards are cute and sturdy, even if you have nothing to cut. Jars are great for holding silverware. You can also use glass jars to serve drinks, but we also like the retro look of aluminum camp mugs. Since silverware has a habit of going missing, your best option is to put together a mismatched yet full-of-charm set from thrift stores, garage sales, or the clearance section at Target. You might also bring a roll of twine and scissors, because that always seems to come in handy.

A fall picnic on a pink gingham blanket, decorated with autumn inspired foods and orange flowers. There are two glasses filled with rosé wine, and a two platters filled with pears, figs, peaches, apples, cheese, crackers, nuts dried fruits, and a baguette.

Cleaning Up

Your last task is going to be dragging everything back home. Be sure to bring along trash bags, and a big galvanized or plastic tub to collect dirty dishes. When you get home, throw it all in the dishwasher.

Reasons to plan a fall picnic

If I’m embracing the fall picnic, I thought you might too. Besides the logical desire to carpe diem on the mild temperatures before cold weather sets in, here are my top reasons to plan a fall picnic:

Savor the Weather

The bugs are gone, and the wilting heat of August has disappeared. Thanks to this, fall picnics can be even more enjoyable than summer gatherings. As the weather cools and leaves change color, a picnic is the perfect opportunity to savor the season with family and friends. You may even discover some unexpected benefits to eating al fresco in the fall: less risk of sunburn, and a more private setting away from the summer crowds. 

Fall Foliage

Find a calm place where you can be surrounded by the beauty of nature. Give yourself permission to do nothing but take in the view. Appreciate the beauty. And when you’re done appreciating everything, remember that you’re never too old to enthusiastically jump into a big fluffy pile of leaves!

At a fall picnic, an adorable Pomeranian sits in an empty picnic basket looking up at you. She is black and tan and has a pink leash.

A woman in a pink dress and brown boater hat holds a basket with a bottle of wine and a pink and tan picnic basket. She is standing and swinging the baskets

Time to Slow Down

There’s something about fall that revitalizes the soul. Summer always seems to fly by, but fall is the time we allow ourselves to catch up and take in the magic of the season. A fall picnic gives you the opportunity to slow down. Stroll a trail, or sit a while.  Get comfortable and focus on an “unplugged” activity. Bring a favorite book, an instrument, card games, a kite or football, etc.

Embrace the Cozy Season

Fall is when we really begin to hygge. Hygge is a term used by the Danish, and is a lifestyle that celebrates living in the moment, finding beauty in simplicity, and nurturing yourself and others with coziness. I’m down with this. A fall picnic, especially with comfort food, plaid blankets, chunky sweaters, thermos of hot cider, is particularly hyggelig. Embrace it and I guarantee you will love it!

A fall picnic on a pink gingham blanket, decorated with autumn inspired foods and orange flowers. There are two glasses filled with rosé wine, and a two platters filled with pears, figs, peaches, apples, cheese, crackers, nuts dried fruits, and a baguette.
A woman in a pink dress holds her black and tan Pomeranian at a fall themed picnic. She is sitting on a pink blanket and leaning against a pink pillow. Her husband is kissing her on the cheek. He has blonde hair and is wearing a pink shirt and blue glasses.

Maybe you are planning to meet a friend for lunch in a park this week or you’re organizing an apple picking outing this weekend. Whatever your schedule, plan to pack a picnic. You’ll be glad you did. 

An adorable Pomeranian sits in an empty picnic basket looking up at you. She is black and tan and has a pink leash.
A bottle of rosé sits inside a unique basket made for carrying wine. The basket is tied with a yellow bow.

What do you guys think? Is having a picnic in the park with friends on your fall bucket list? What do you do to elevate your picnics? Let me know!

Cheers to fall, everyone!

Details

Pink Picnic Blanket | Picnic Basket | Lazy Susan | Rattan Tray {similar} | Andrew's Shirt | Andrew's Shorts | Andrew's Shoes {similar} | My Shoes | My Brown Boater Hat | My Lipstick | My Lip Pencil | Bonnie’s Leash | Bonnie’s Water Bottle

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