Or your roof.

On a gorgeous spring day after months of hibernation, snagging a spot on a outdoor patio in Manhattan is no easy task. Rather than battle the hoard of New Yorkers all fighting for the same crowded space, I love to opt for a picnic outside instead.

While I can’t say the first picnic I ever planned was a success (I set everything up only to realize I forgot plates and utensils), over time I’ve become somewhat of a picnic connoisseur. And I can tell you the difference between a good and a great one really all comes down to your preparation.

Whether you’re gearing up for an outdoor concert in park or just eating brunch alfresco with friends, here’s what to bring on a picnic for a guaranteed good time.

Backpack

Make It Portable

Of course you can go the classic basket route (this one is particularly charming), but if you live in an urban area and don’t have a car, there are easier ways to carry your essentials. Complete with an insulated leak proof compartment, this houndstooth backpack is perfect for a picnic. Really want to impress your date or bestie? Along with an insulated section for food this navy version also comes with a two-person place setting.

Blanket

Comfort Is Key

It’s always a good idea to keep a layer between your food and the ground. So, unless you’re heading to a park with a bunch of picnic tables, a blanket is a must. From your standard red and black checked blankets to waterproof styles, there are dozens to choose from. This striped fleece blanket tote is particularly amazing because it refolds into a convenient tote for easy carrying. Bonus: It’s soft on top but water-resistant on the underside to protect you from moisture. Because no one likes a wet blanket.

Mangos

Don’t Forget The Food

When thinking about what to bring on a picnic, food is the most important part (right after wine of course). Whether you’re packing finger food or bringing a full spread, there’s nothing better than enjoying food with friends al fresco. If you’re looking for tasty snacks to pack, this maple BBQ jerky and these dried mangos are both delicious options. Charcuterie is also a no brainer for any picnic, and these herb crackers and strawberry jam are the perfect complements for your meat and cheese.

Ice pack

Keep It Cool

When the sun is blazing and temperatures are high, it’s important to keep safety in mind. To keep cold foods cold and safe to eat, don’t forget to place an ice pack in your basket or backpack. Frozen water bottles also work great to keep food cold, and they pull double duty as you can drink them once they melt down. For larger groups coolers are your best bet, especially those with wheels for easy transportation.  

Flutes

Pack Some Plates

Even if you are packing mostly finger food, it’s always a good idea to bring some disposables like paper plates, plastic cups, utenscils, and napkins to your picnic. That is, unless you sprang for the fancy backpack I mentioned earlier that includes place settings. It makes for less mess at the end of the day, and a more enjoyable experience while you’re picnic-ing. Hosting a picnic brunch? These plastic flute glasses are perfect for mimosas and will make any spread extra festive. Just add champagne.

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