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Yes, I know picnics are usually associated with summertime. But why not be adventurous and try it out a winter picnic? Because let’s be honest…summer is short and I still want to do all the awesome things (like picnics!) during the rest of the year.
It’s also great to show kids (and yourself) how to overcome small obstacles or discomforts and be rewarded by a unique new experience!
Not to mention every season has something special to offer. Warm food and drinks are particularly nice to enjoy while fluffy white snowflakes are falling softly around you. And did I mention there are no bugs?
Have I convinced you to try it yet? If so, here are some ideas for a simple winter picnic!
Choose your location.
The first step is to decide where to have your winter picnic. I would recommend choosing whatever spot would be the absolute easiest option for you, at least on the first time out. It could be your backyard, a nearby park, or during a winter hike (if you’re already accustomed to such things).
We had ours in the backyard of a home where we recently stayed during vacation. The yard was surrounded by beautiful woods, so we laid our blanket down right at the edge of the clearing. Ours wasn’t waterproof, so I also added a tarp underneath.
Simple meal ideas:
The best way to ensure a successful winter picnic is to keep the food super simple for the sake of packing and eating. Finger foods that don’t fall apart are ideal and much easier to eat with mitten-wearing hands. Preferably there would be at least one warm option. It is winter, after all.
Here are some ideas:
- Soup – For the absolute easiest option, I bought some prepared boxed chili, warmed it on the stove right before heading out, and poured it into a thermos that maintains temperature. Since we were just in the backyard, I also packed along a few toppings.
- Hot chocolate in a thermos
- Celery, carrots, cucumber slices + hummus
- Cookies, chips, etc.
After years of backpacking, I’m partial to using mugs for outdoor meals whenever possible. The absolute best one that we’ve found is this Yeti mug. We put off purchasing it for years opting for cheaper versions, but finally we gave in :).
If you drink out of a mug frequently (especially outside), it’s every bit worth it! It maintains the temperature better than any mug we’ve ever tried. It also has a cover with a small opening for sipping, which is great news if it might sit a while before drinking (or if you’re prone to spilling, like myself).
For this particular picnic, I just used the mug for my chili since I failed to bring hot chocolate. (I know, I know…that’s like THE most essential thing for a winter picnic! Don’t make my mistakes, people.)
The way you approach packing depends on the location you chose. If hiking, you’ll probably want to pack simple, light, and have as few moving parts as possible. If you’re just heading to the park or backyard and don’t have to carry your food far, you probably feel alright about packing a few more (heavier) options.
Here are some things you might need:
- cooler/basket for the food and goodies
- waterproof blanket or tarp
- adequate snow clothes so ya don’t mind just sitting on the ground
- camp mugs or non-breakable bowls
- spoons for soup and stirring hot chocolate (and any other utensils you deem necessary)
- water bottles
- any other necessary dishes for the food you decide to pack
Word of advice, don’t choose an extraordinarily cold or super windy day. Remember, you want as few obstacles as possible to this being an enjoyable winter picnic experience! And, as always during the winter months, make sure everyone is dressed adequately for the weather! You can always remove layers if need be.
Take your time to make sure everything is packed up securely. As a professional “spiller”, I can vouch for how frustrating it can be to spill EVERYTHING all at once. Minor spills, however, are no big deal :).
As far as involving kiddos in the set up process – that is up to you and what you and your kids are feeling that day. Some kids might enjoy gathering supplies or readying the picnic spot, others might get too impatient and sabotage things. As always, do what you think is best for you and yours!
While picnicking, I’d highly suggest talking about what you hear and see around you. Depending on the age of your kids, discuss the different colors, shapes, textures, animals, plant life, etc. There’s always a way to spark curiosity and interest outdoors if we just guide them (and ourselves) to it!
Now go on and eat some food outside!
Looking for other winter activity ideas, check out my Winter Archives.
PS – Do you know someone that would like my blog? Please forward it to them!