June 18th marks International Picnic Day, an informal holiday that celebrates the simple joy of gathering and dining outdoors. The origins of the holiday are unknown, but the tradition of outdoor banquets can be traced back to medieval Europe, where feasts were held in the open air after successful hunts. Here’s some advice on how to make the most of the outdoor festivities this year.
Pick the perfect location
The key to a lovely picnic is finding the right spot. Remember that you’ll have to haul all of your food and supplies to the site, so don’t pick anything too remote. If you absolutely must travel far afield to get to your favorite vista, travel light. You can find parks near you using the National Parks Service’s “Find a Park” tool.
Invite your friends or coworkers
Picnics make great potlucks, where each attendee brings a dish she’s prepared for the occasion. This diffuses the amount of cooking each person has to do; plus, people tend to prepare the one dish they’re especially good at making, raising the quality of the spread overall.
Skip the messy foods
Foods that make a mess, like tacos or pasta, are best avoided. In fact, you might want to pass on anything that involves cutlery and stick to finger foods and simple fare—you can’t go wrong with a loaf of French bread, some good cheese, fruit, cured meats, and a bottle of chilled white wine. If you want something more elaborate, let your imagination run wild. Wraps and tea sandwiches work well for no-fuss, satisfying meals.
Be prepared for the bugs
It’s summer, otherwise known as the halcyon days of bugs. Be sure to pack your food and drinks in sealable containers that won’t attract as many insects, and come armed with bug spray. You can also bring foods that naturally repel creepy-crawlies—grapefruit and bananas will do the trick.