Right at this very moment we are overwhelmed. Our inboxes, our
kitchen islands, our messy cars. Things are coming to an end-like
school, spring sports leagues and graduations - which somehow
always means a little more hustle and a lot more to do.
And when we thought about all of the festivities coming up it's
sad to say our first reaction was to worry. Father's Day? (Do I
have time to order something online or are there printable golf
giftcards?) Graduation parties? (What's the going rate for
graduation and can we swing three open houses in one day?) Summer
vacation? (When? Where? What to pack?)
Are you nodding or shaking your head? Or both? Because we know
so many of us are in the same boat and yet we're kind of disgusted
listening to ourselves. Time to slow down and simplify. All of this
hustle and hyper-worry and we're missing the whole point.
So all of that to say, a summer picnic sort of seemed like the
antithesis of all this busyness and anxiety. A reminder of how
simple things can be and how if we unplugged and unwound a little
there might just be hope for us yet.
So here's what we came up with over our own lunch, out on the
patio in the near-warm sun, to keep you and your picnic calm, cool
and collected. For Father's Day, for a graduation picnic, for your
cul-de-sac or for you and your daughter some Tuesday:
1. Buy a collapsible picnic basket and
keep it in your car. There are some really cool and
inexpensive ones out there like this one and this one and if you have one
in your car, you can always run to the store on a whim, throw your
goodies in the basket and . . . picnic!
2. Stock up on picnic stuff all at
once. This sounds like something for the to-do list now, but
really if you make one trip, you can knock off a bunch of picnic
staples. You can also gather things you already have. Once you have
them together, you'll be much more likely to spontaneously picnic.
Here's our list, keep it in your collapsible picnic basket or
somewhere that's easy to get to:
- A waterproof picnic blanket
- Paper or plastic plates
- Paper or plastic cups
- Plastic or old silverware
- Paper napkins or old cloth ones
- Bug spray
- Snacks (variety packs are always a good
- A small scissors or pocket knife
- A corkscrew
- Plastic bags
- Re-freezable ice packs
3. Do pitch-in picnics. When some
of our kids were little, we'd meet friends at the same park almost
every Friday night in the summer. We'd email and split the menu,
the kids could run and play and we'd shake off the week together
4. Do mini picnics. A picnic
doesn't necessarily mean you have to have a three-course meal.
Forget the appetizers and main course and skip right to dessert.
Grab a couple slices of cheesecake and meet a friend at the park.
Split up the s'more ingredients and roasting sticks and meet by
someone's firepit. That qualifies as a picnic, right?
Cheat. If you're the one throwing the Father's Day
get-together or Graduation Party, get some or all of the food
catered. No one cares. In fact, a lot of people actually look
forward to food from some of their favorite local joints.
6. Hire help. Again, if you're in
the hosting hot seat, there's help to be found. Some friends of
ours hire family friends to set-up and cleanup, help in the
kitchen, reload trays, fix drinks or be in charge of music, games
and/or children. The small price is more than worth it when you are
free to actually enjoy your picnic party.
7. Have your kids plan the picnic.
Make it a special occasion to have your kids plan the picnic. Let
them create and make the simple menu, pack the basket and pick the
spot. Everyone wins.
8. Pretend you're a kid. One of
our mothers-in-law reminded us of this when she took her grandkids
on a picnic. She picked dandelions with them, rolled down the hill,
threw rocks in the pond and collected a quirky mix of found objects
on the walk home, including a blue jay feather, a bottle cap and
three sparkly rocks. She didn't worry about what they were eating
or finding the perfect spot in the shade, she just had a good time.
How cool is that?
There's a place for a little planning. But invite in some
unchoreographed moments this summer, too. Go on a picnic. And stop
worrying so much, it all has a way of working out.