National Picnic Month :: Out of the Basket Picnic Ideas

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July is National Picnic Month. Storied to have been founded by the American Bakers Association in 1952, National Picnic Month invites us to enjoy the great outdoors, summer sunshine, and of course, picnics.

In celebration of National Picnic Month, here are some out-of-the basket picnic ideas to try with your kids and shake up your next picnic.

Storytime Picnic

There are so many possibilities when planning a story time picnic! It can take place anywhere: your living room, yard, porch/patio/balcony, or at a park. You can make traditional picnic foods, foods inspired by the story, or use a recipe right of the book you’re reading.

Aside from reading the story, some great picnic activities include dressing up like characters from the book, or acting out the story with toys or puppets. A story time picnic is a great way to not only celebrate National Picnic Month, but to earn points for the Richland Library’s Summer Learning Challenge as well.

Outside – In Picnic

Indoor picnics are nothing new. Most of us have probably laid a blanket in the middle of our living room floors to eat snacks and build pillow forts. An outside-in picnic invites you to recreate the outdoors inside; perfect for staying inside on a stormy, rainy day.

Pretend to picnic by a lake or pond by arranging couch cushions and pillows around a blue blanket, and toss in some toy fish. Enjoy an imaginary mountain view by piling up pillows on the sofa and pointing out the toy villagers and forest animals down in the “valley” (on the floor). If your kids have a playhouse inside, set up your picnic in their “yard.” The sky’s the limit on this one. Let your imagination run wild!

Around the World Picnic

Bring out the adventurer in you and your kids, and traverse the world through your picnic basket! This picnic theme is loaded with potential to be fun and educational. Pick a country or countries to learn about their food, culture, and maybe even learn to say a few words in a different language.

If you’re a do-it-yourself mom, try a recipe or two from another country. If you’re not, order some take out instead. If you’re in between, pick up premade international treats from the grocery store. I highly suggest visiting Columbia’s International Corridor for your picnic’s international cuisine, whether it comes from a market or a restaurant. 

Drive-In Movie Picnic

There are two ways you can do a drive-in movie picnic. The first is to actually go see a movie at a drive-in movie theater and set up a picnic in/at your vehicle. For Columbia moms, the nearest drive-in is Monetta Drive-In Movie Theater, aka The Big Mo. The Big Mo also has a concession stand for extra treats you can add to your picnic.

The second way is to create your own drive-in theater in your yard/driveway, with a projection screen and video projector. Richland library’s Library of Things offers projection screens and video projector kits for check out. Hop into your vehicle, or lay down a blanket, and let the kids park their do-it-yourself box cars in front of the screen with their movie snacks.

Tasty Craft Picnic

My son doesn’t just eat his food, he experiences it. He reenacts scenes from his favorite movies with his finger foods, gobbles up his cookies like Cookie Monster, and if I’m not paying attention, catapults his oatmeal against the wall. With the exception of the food on the wall (or carpet and furniture), I don’t discourage this food play. Especially when it leads to him trying, and even eating, new foods.

If you don’t mind a mess, put together a picnic that encourages your child’s creativity and helps them to explore their senses. The tasty craft picnic consists of edible craft supplies, like edible play dough, and yummy crafts like fruit cereal necklaces. I suggest skipping the picnic blanket. Instead, grab a plastic shower curtain and spread it out on the porch, patio, or garage (open up for fresh air) floor for easy clean up. A simpler version for babies and toddlers would be to spread out bowls with foods of different textures, like pudding and Cheerios. Then let them move around from bowl to bowl investigating the different treats sans spoons and forks.

As you can see, there are many ways to plan a picnic. Let your imagination free and see what picnic goodies and summertime fun you can make. Happy National Picnic Month!

What imaginative picnic ideas would you add to this list? 

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Shacoya is a devoted wife, mother of an Âûsome son (‘16) and vivacious daughter (‘19), and caretaker of her loving mother. Columbia became her home after surviving sunburn and mosquito bites to meet and fall in love with her husband while they were working at the Riverbanks Zoo gift shop. Her love of writing began when she won the Young Author’s Award in the fourth grade and culminated in her writing a 50,000+ word novel in 30 days for the annual National Novel Writing Month challenge, NaNoWriMo, in 2019. Along with writing, Shacoya also enjoys the art of fake 'n bakin’ (making premade ingredients taste like homemade), developing the skill of actually using the pins on her Pinterest boards, fangirling Richland Library, window shopping on Etsy, and learning about ways to be a better human being.

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