Spring and summer should not have all the fun picnic time. Healthy autumn days or even a cool winter afternoon are wonderful times to host a picnic as long as you prepare and pack the right equipment and the kitchen to keep everyone well warm.
There is nothing like a clean blanket of glittering snow under a cool blue winter sky to bring family and friends together. There is solidarity when people are gathered around a campfire, telling stories, keeping warm with warm mugs of cocoa while wrapped together in thick woolen scarves and comfortable blankets.
A winter picnic requires a little more planning than one arranged in the warmer months, as there is nothing that completes a picnic faster than cold fingers and toes. With a little planning of games before the picnic, your frosty party will be a success.
- Stay focused on the items that will keep your family and friends warm by packing cozy blankets, scarves and mittens. Also bring an insulated pillow so you can lie down on the ground as the first layer before spreading your picnic blanket out.
- Pack binoculars to watch birds or wildlife and a set of cards or old-fashioned games like Yahtzee for picnic entertainment.
- Do not forget tissues to help with cool noses.
- If there is an abundance of snow, pack a snowman set with a carrot nose and pebbles for the eyes and buttons. Gather twigs on the spot for the arms, but skip the scarf to make sure your snowman is fully recyclable when he melts away.
- If the conditions are right for a bonfire, bring a bundle of wood, a long lighter and a lighter to get the bonfire going.
- Continue the theme of keeping warm by wrapping a thermos of hot soup or casserole, another of hot mulled wine cider, and round it off with a thermos of hot chocolate. Pack small bags of cinnamon sticks and mini marshmallows to garnish your cider and hot chocolate. For a little adult fun, you can bring a bottle of bourbon or brandy to spray in the cider or cocoa before serving.
- Pack cloth napkins, compostable utensils, hand napkins, recyclable plates and glasses, and a small garbage bag to collect garbage to take home at the end of your winter party.
- Bring a small vase and a sprig of holly or other winter flowers to add a touch of unexpected elegance.
- Pack robust dips like creamy artichoke, white bean hummus or roasted red pepper topping accompanied by roasted pita triangles brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with thyme and crispy sea salt before baking.
- Store sliced bread, cold cuts, cheese and pickles in separate plastic bags until the sandwiches are ready to be designed to avoid softness. Consider winter sandwich garnishes such as cranberry cold cuts or cranberry chutney.
- Prepare hearty winter salads such as an old grain like amaranth or barley garnished with roasted butternut squash or sweet potatoes garnished with roasted hazelnuts and mint.
- Finish the meal with a sweet finish such as homemade chocolate cakes or cool brownies.
Warm up this dip just before you leave for your picnic, and keep it warm in an insulated container. It is the perfect way to start a winter picnic and will keep everyone warm from the inside out. The creamy texture and melted cheese that surrounds the light green spinach and velvety artichokes are ideal for roasted pita triangles sprinkled with crispy sea salt. Get the recipe.
Barley is a solid grain that can withstand the cold on a winter day. This salad can be served cold, but it is even better when warmed up just before you leave the house for your picnic. The tender butternut squash with its earthiness is lightened by the addition of balsamic vinegar. Add a little freshly grated mint for an even more nuanced taste. Get the recipe.
A thermos with this hot beef stew keeps everyone warm while quenching their hunger with its rich and soothing taste. The beef is coated with flour before cooking, to give the stew a thick, velvety texture. Get the recipe.
With the crispy texture of the toast, the lively apple and the silky melted brie, this winter sandwich is a guaranteed picnic delight. The taste is sophisticated, but the preparation time is minimal. If you want to keep them warm during transport to your picnic spot, wrap each sandwich individually in a double layer of aluminum foil right after grilling. It should keep them toasty, but even served cold, they are sandwich masterpieces. Get the recipe.
This cold weather classic is the favorite hot drink on a lively picnic day. The cider is infused with seasonal favorites like orange peel, star anise, cinnamon and even ginger, and it evokes a pleasant sip after sip. Pour it on a thermos while still hot and start your picnic with a glass of it to keep everyone toasty. Do not forget the cinnamon sticks for a fun winter bloom. Get the recipe.
Do not reveal these decadent brownies until the very end. They will surely bring joy to even the most dessert-loving in your group. Their cool texture and generous chunks of chocolate are made even more luxuriously drizzled with ribbons of amber caramel. Get the recipe.