Picnics are a summer staple for many people and a great way to enjoy a relaxing afternoon in a park or garden. The ongoing situation with Covid-19 has also placed a new focus on outdoor socialising, with most of us heading outdoors to help keep friends and loved ones safe.
As we head into winter, socialising outdoors might not sound like an appealing prospect, but it definitely can be if you know how to prepare. A winter picnic can be just as enjoyable and it’s a great way to recharge on a long winter walk. It’s likely that many of us will be restricted to socialising exclusively outdoors this winter, so if you want to know how to enjoy the perfect winter picnic, read on for our handy guide.
Wrap up warm
Wrapping up warm is key to enjoying a winter picnic and as the author Alfred Wainwright said, ‘there’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.’ Layers are key here; start with a thermal vest or long sleeved top, followed by a cosy jumper and a waterproof layer. This is likely to be more comfortable than sitting in a bulky winter coat and you’ll be protected if it starts to rain. Sturdy footwear is also important; think non slip boots, hiking boots or wellies if it’s snowing. You might also want to wear two pairs of socks to keep your feet warm.
Hats, scarves and gloves also make all the difference and bring extra blankets to help you stay cosy. If you want to go all out, you could even bring a portable outdoor heater to ensure everyone is warm and comfortable
What to pack
As well as the obvious food and drink (we’ll get onto that later) there are some smart extras you can pack to help make the experience more enjoyable. Bring something waterproof or insulated to lay down first (like a groundsheet from a tent) to stop chills from rising up through the ground. You can then lay woolly blankets on top and the bottom layer will prevent them from becoming wet or muddy.
You’ll also need plenty of napkins, hand wipes or sanitiser and a bag to collect rubbish. Biodegradable plates and cutlery are usually the easiest; they save sending plastic to landfill and you won’t have to cart heavy porcelain plates around. Look for utensils, plates and bowls made from wood, palm leaf, bamboo, or other eco-friendly materials.
As mentioned above, you might also want to bring a portable heater or even materials to build a bonfire, but check that this is permitted in your picnic area before doing so. If you do want to make a fire, you’ll need dry sticks and twigs, a long lighter and smaller kindling material (like dry pine needles or leaves). It’s also a good idea to pack a torch in case it gets dark before you’ve made your way back, as well as an emergency phone charger.
Food and snacks
You can still enjoy traditional cold picnic foods, like salads, quiche and sandwiches, but it helps to bring some hot food and snacks as well to keep you warm. Pack hot and cold food separately in thermal insulated or cool bags to keep things fresh. We’ll run through some of our favourite hot and cold food ideas in more detail, below.
A thermos isn’t just for soups or hot drinks, you can use it to transport more robust hot food too, like a stew or chilli. Jacket potatoes also keep warm well; simply wrap them in foil and place them in an insulated bag (if you don’t have a bag then wrap the foil potatoes in tea towels).
In some ways, winter picnics give you more freedom of choice, as you don’t have to worry about food overheating or wilting in hot temperatures. You can still include summer favourites like potato salad, quiche or scotch eggs, but add in some robust salads and dips too to keep energy levels up. Hearty white bean dips, hummus and red pepper dips pair very well with pitta or chunks or crusty white bread.
Winter salads can be made using a grain like lentils, quinoa or buckwheat, mixed with roasted butternut squash, sweet potato or aubergine. Add some crumbled feta, beetroot and herbs like mint or parsley for a delicious, filling side dish. If you want to make sandwiches, transport ingredients separately and assemble once you’re sitting down to prevent sogginess. Sliced cold meats, cheeses and pickles are still a picnic winner, but add a festive twist with cranberry sauce or winter spiced chutney. Finish with a rich, easy to transport dessert, like brownies or homemade cookies.
Hot drinks and soups
A thermos flask really comes into its own on a winter picnic, allowing you to enjoy delicious hot soups and drinks on the go. As above, you can even use it to hold a winter stew or chilli if you want more sustenance. There are plenty of fun drinks to share too, for both adults and children.
For the kids
Hot chocolate is a winner for all ages and you make it extra special if you bring added garnishes. Pack mini marshmallows, chocolate chips or cinnamon sticks, plus a can of squirty cream for the perfect finish. You could also make mulled apple juice for a child-friendly take on mulled cider. Simmer a litre of apple juice in a pan with one cinnamon stick, three cloves and a few pieces of orange peel. Pour through a sieve into a thermos flask to keep warm, and enjoy.
A hot toddy or glass of mulled wine is a winter highlight for many grownups and you can easily transport these in a thermos. You could also add a splash of whisky to coffee or hot chocolate, or add some brandy to the mulled apple juice to make a grown up version.
Many people combine a summer picnic with activities like frisbee, rounders or building sandcastles on the beach, but there’s still plenty of fun to be had in winter. Bring binoculars to spot local birds and wildlife or go searching for bugs and animals if you’re near woodland. If you’ve built a fire then you could toast marshmallows or tell campfire stories (even if you’re having the picnic in the middle of the day).
A pack of cards also provides hours of fun and there’s no risk of losing small board game pieces. If you’re feeling brave and fancy a picnic in the snow then bring some buttons and a carrot to help you build a snowman, plus waterproof gloves for a snowball fight.
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We deliver to customers throughout London, Wales and across the UK and our reliable services cater to a variety of businesses of all sizes. Whether you’re a small local cafe, bakery, or a large chain hotel, we have the products you need to help your customers enjoy an al fresco picnic this winter. For more information about any of our products or services, don’t hesitate to give us a call today or get in touch via our website.