I don’t pretend to be someone who spends a lot of time cooking. Sure, I’d like to try all those recipes on Pinterest like Nutella Cheesecake in a Jar, but my schedule doesn’t allow for it. The good news? Nowadays, you can entertain and have a fabulous, homemade-like vibe to your gatherings even if you’re not the one behind the stove. So, with summer past the halfway mark (how’d that happen?), there’s no better time to gather your friends, pack up some food, and enjoy a fabulous picnic!
When it comes to picnics, I like to be unique while keeping things as effortless as possible—in other words, the easier the better. I’ve realized that it costs practically the same to order a fabulous picnic basket and let others do most of the work than to slave away in a kitchen trying to make my setup look all Instagram-worthy. Sorry, Instagram; I want fabulous with no filter necessary. So here are some tips!
You can do it two ways: You can go to someplace like Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s to assemble all your favorite culinary delights; or, you can order a gourmet picnic basket online. I know—who knew? In most cases, the cost is about $100, not including beverages (pro tip: Have your guests bring their favorite wine. Done and done!). I found a few good choices that will satisfy even the most particular of wannabe foodie types. Personally, I like The Fruit Company’s Summer Picnic Basket (seen above; $139.95, thefruitcompany.com), D’Artagnan’s Grande Charcuterie Basket ($ 99.95, dartagnan.com), and Amazon.com’s Artisan Cheese Picnic Gift Basket ($104.49, amazon.com). Just order, add wine, and you’re good to go!
If you’re going the DIY route, use different kinds of items and containers. I like open baskets because you can fit more tasty things in them and they double as festive decor. The standard twofer picnic basket will probably be available at your local crafts store for a couple of bucks.
What to Eat:
Simple is always chic! If you have a theme, that can help focus your plan—wine and cheese, sandwiches and fruit, and so on. The sky is the limit; all you have to do is let your personal tastes guide you. For example, I love French food, so I prefer pate, bread, olives, cheese, and wine. Maybe you like Italian food or Middle Eastern snacks. It’s all up to you.
A little goes a long way! A bouquet of flowers can be purchased pretty much anywhere for under $10, and the entertaining street cred is worth millions! You can place your blooms in a Ball jar or another smaller basket. For a beach picnic, try making a glass hurricane with sand and rocks on the bottom and the flowers with some water on top. Five minutes to fabulous? Yes please!
Serve It Up!:
I am not a fan of paper plates, especially the ones where a dollop of potato salad can rip the whole thing apart. My disapproval for the ubiquitous red cup runs even higher. I just think you can do better. Melamime and paper have come a long way! For example, fabulous design impresario Michael Aram now has a collection called MADHOUSE. It’s a line of upscale yet affordable dinnerware and serve ware designed to integrate perfectly with his signature looks and existing collections. The line includes statement melamine pieces, fine paper tableware options, and unique accessories for indoor and outdoor home entertaining. Anywhere I can find iridescent purple paper plates, count me in!
Repeat after me: A sheet is not seating. Bring something cozy. Setting up chic gourmet fixin’s is pointless if you’re doing it on a few towels you, er, accidentally took home from the gym. Bring a cute blanket or throw—plaid, ikat, or chevron will do for patterns. A trip to Home Goods will score you one for under $20.
I think parties without music are awkward and lame. Someone in your circle probably has a wireless speaker, so load up your iPhone with all the summer’s hits and you are good to go. Trust me—after a few glasses of Chardonnay, everyone likes to embrace their inner Robin Thicke. Don’t forget to post pics!
Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter whether you order your picnic online or you assemble it yourself. It’s about food, drinks, and good friends enjoying the last few official weeks of summer. And no matter what you’re eating or drinking, those times are always fabulous.
You can catch celebrity designer and style expert, Courtney Cachet’s design tips, gift guides and easy entertaining ideas on NBC and Better TV, where she dishes out all the latest in all things fab for your home and lifestyle! Keep up with her at courtneycachet.com.