10 Things To Pack in Your Picnic Basket

You’ve got the food, the location, and some good company. All that stands between you and a lovely outdoor meal is a well-packed picnic basket. Whether you have a proper wicker hamper or a canvas tote bag, fill it up with these picnic essentials and you’ll be prepared for anything.

Lisa Cericola
Perfect Picnic Menu
These portable dishes are not only easy to take outdoors, but the prep work and make-ahead tips allow for a stress-free and delicious summer afternoon.
Photo: Jennifer Davick

Frozen Bottles of Water
The main rule for outdoor eating is to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Ice packs will get the job done, but frozen bottles of water do double duty. After they melt (and the food’s been eaten), you’ll have cold drinks on hand for everyone.

Corkscrew/Bottle Opener
If you’re packing wine, beer, or bottles of soda, be sure to toss a corkscrew with a bottle opener in your bag. (Bonus points for packing plastic cups with sturdy, flat bottoms too.)

Wet Wipes
Pre-moistened wipes will keep hands clean and help clean up sticky spills, even if there’s no running water nearby.

Salt and Pepper
Seasoning is a small thing, but goes a long way in making your picnic feel more thoughtful—especially if you happen to be eating fried chicken.

Paper Towels
You never know when you might have a big spill on your hands. And a roll of paper towels won’t blow away like a stack of napkins will.

A Tray
If you’re eating on the ground, a lightweight plastic or enamel tray will provide a smooth surface to prevent drinks from toppling over.

Serving Spoons
Cutlery is essential, of course, but don’t forget a large spoon or two for serving food.

Folding Knife
A small folding knife will come in handy for a variety of jobs, and is essential if you’re serving meats and cheeses.

Cutting Board
A lightweight cutting board is also a good idea if cheese is on the menu, or if you’re slicing sandwiches or fruit.

Trash Bags
Always throw a trash bag or two in your bag for easy clean up when the picnic’s over. Even if there are plenty of trash cans nearby, your own bag will save you from having to walk back and forth to throw everything away.