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10 things to make summer picnics more enjoyable

Get ready for your most stylish picnic yet.

Left: Mother and child beach picnic; Right: Woman carrying watermelon picnic bag Credit: Sunnylife / Ban.do

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With restrictions lifting across the country, people are looking forward to enjoying a variety of activities to their fullest this summer. After all, have you ever been on a picnic? There’s something so fun (and nostalgic) about getting in touch with nature while you eat and mingle with friends and family.

To orchestrate the most enjoyable (and most visually appealing) picnic possible you’re going to need a few essentials that are both practical and stylish. From classic baskets to top-of-the-line waterproof speakers, these are 10 things you need to upgrade your summer picnic festivities.

1. A classic picnic basket

Sunnylife Picnic Basket
Credit: Sunnylife

It has everything you need for a four-person picnic.

Hoping to have a classic, picturesque picnic? This woven willow basket is the perfect purchase for you. I own it and can attest to how well made and well thought out it is. It looks like a traditional basket from the outside but features a well-organized interior complete with a cooler, wine opener, cheese board, and service for four (including plates, cutlery, and cups). In that sense, it takes all the prep work out of picnic planning, as you’ll only need to gather up food for lunch outdoors.

Get the Sunnylife Large Picnic Cooler Basket from Amazon for $210

2. A cute picnic blanket

Packed Party Picnic Blanket
Credit: Packed Party

This rainbow one packs up nicely for easy carrying.

I love Mexican blankets as much as the next gal (I grew up using them for everything from picnics and river rock hangs to camping and nights at the amphitheater), but when it comes to creating a fun, colorful picnic backdrop, this Packed Party one is my new go-to. What I love most about this 60-inch round blanket (beyond its colors and cute saying) is how it folds up into an easy-to-carry tote that you can use to lug a bottle of wine or snacks in. So smart, no? Best of all, it’s water-resistant, so even if the ground is damp, it won’t soak through.

Get the Hey Sunshine Picnic Blanket from Packed Party for $48

3. A roomy cooler bag

Ban.do Watermelon Cooler Bag
Credit: Ban.do

Photo opp, anyone?

Want a more playful picnic carrier? This watermelon cooler bag, which has long, comfortable straps for easy carrying), from ban.do is a fan-favorite for its playful design and effect temperature retention. One thing to remember with this roomy bag is that the brand recommends using ice packs only for insulation, as ice cubes can melt and get messy inside of it.

Get the Super Chill Watermelon Cooler Bag from ban.do for $32

4. A travel cheese board

Sunnylife Cheese Set
Credit: Sunnylife

Because charcuterie is everything these days.

While you could absolutely display cheese and crackers on a paper plate, it’s just not the same as creating an aesthetically pleasing cheese board. Of course, bringing your favorite charcuterie platter on a picnic may prove to be challenging due to its size and weight. Thankfully, Sunnylife recognized that and launched its travel cheese board, which comes with a slide-out compartment stocked with a cheese knife, cheese fork, and wine opener. One thing to note about this truly convenient board is that it is hand-wash only, so it will require a little extra TLC post-picnic. But, then again, most cheese boards are.

Get the Sunnylife Travel Cheese Set from ban.do for $38

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5. A stylish picnic backpack

Corkcicle Cooler Backpack
Credit: Corkcicle

It’s easy on your posture and your eyes.

If your picnic goals include creating a tasty spread and a stylish aesthetic, look no further than this faux-croc, vegan leather cooler backpack, which is sold in seven colors. I own it and can’t tell you how many compliments I’ve received for it. Since it can be comfortably worn on your back, it’s especially great for picnics that require a bit of walking or hiking to get to. Plus, it’s reinforced, so you don’t have to worry about it becoming weighed down by its contents and it can hold up to 12 cans or eight cans and two wine bottles.

Get the Eola Cooler Bucket Bag from Corkcicle for $149.95

6. Our favorite reusable sandwich bags of 2021

Lunchskins
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

Because there’s no need to add to plastic waste for a picnic.

As easy as it is to portion your favorite snacks into single-use plastic bags and throw them out afterward, it’s simply not great for the environment. And, since picnics are largely enjoyable thanks to the environment, it only makes sense to pack with it in mind. Instead, swap to a couple of Lunchskins Reusable Bags. We ranked them as our favorite reusable sandwich bags of 2021 thanks to their temperature protection and the fact that they’re dishwasher safe. Plus, they come in varying sizes and patterns, which makes them the perfect option for sandwiches and snacks alike.

Get the Lunchskins Reusable 2-Pack Bag Set from Amazon for $11.98

7. A pretty wine tumbler

Brumate Tumbler
Credit: Brumate

It’s spillproof!

If you’re going to go through the effort of trying to keep your favorite bubbly or white chilled in a cooler, you might as well ensure it stays cool in your glass, too. That’s why we love BrüMate’s wine tumblers. The stainless wine cups will help keep your wine (or whatever you’re drinking) cold for hours on end. It comes with an air-tight plastic lid, so it will keep liquids from spilling during your outdoor picnic adventures, too.

As someone who owns a set of these Glitter Mermaid tumblers, as well as BrüMate’s matching Winesulator (which keeps an entire bottle of wine cool), I can attest to the quality of the cups. My favorite thing about them—besides how well they keep drinks cool—is that they come with non-slip silicone bottoms. Plus, since they have plastic lids, you don’t have to worry about a metallic taste from sipping directly from the metal cup. Needless to say, I’m a big fan and bet you will be, too.

Get the BrüMate Uncork’d 14 Ounce Wine Tumbler from Amazon for $22.99

8. Our favorite reusable straws

FinalStraw
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

Because, again, why rack up plastic waste?

Whether you’re bringing along solo cups and want to sip out of a straw or don’t want to put your mouth directly on a can, having straws for your picnic is a good idea. Instead of grabbing a cheap bag of plastic bendy straws (convenient as they may be), consider doing the eco-friendly thing and stocking up on the best reusable straw we’ve ever tested: the FinalStraw.

The metal straw comes disassembled in a small rectangular storage box complete with a mini key ring so you can easily attach it to your bag. Then, whenever you need a straw, simply pull it out of the box, pop it together, et voila. Just be sure to rinse it out between uses—especially if you’re using it for anything other than water. For enough straws for the whole gang, we recommend this set of SipWell straws, which were our favorite affordable ones.

9. A top-quality portable speaker

Harman Kardon Speaker
Credit: Harman Kardon

This one has a convenient handle and stellar sound.

We’ve tested our fair share of portable, waterproof speakers, and while our experts have yet to test the Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 6 Wireless Bluetooth Speaker, I adore it. Larger than many other portable speakers on the market, this round, upright speaker has an incredible sound that will make you feel like you’re at a live show.

My brother-in-law is a huge fan of the brand and whenever we have an outside gettogether or weekend-long outdoor trip, he brings not one, but two, so that we never have to go without quality tunes. The speaker features eight hours of playtime and has a rechargeable battery that takes just a few to fully recharge, so it will last through a picnic. You can also connect multiple phones to it, so you and your family and friends can take turns picking and playing songs. All around, I’m a big fan and believe you will be too. But don’t just take my word for it. Nearly 900 Amazon shoppers have given it their 5-star seal of approval.

Get the Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 6 Wireless Bluetooth Speaker from Amazon for $238

10. Our favorite large cooler

YETI V Series Cooler
Credit: Yeti

It’s pricey but effective.

If your picnic is more of a large gathering than an intimate event, be sure to come prepared with the Yeti V Series Hard Cooler. It’s the best cooler we’ve ever tested thanks to its superior temperature retention and durable stainless steel exterior. That said, we’d be remiss not to mention that, yes, it is quite expensive. However, if you’re looking for a way to keep enough food and beverages chilled for four or more people, it’s the best option.

Get the V Series Hard Cooler from YETI for $800

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

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