The joy of picnics

Picnics can be as enjoyable as eating at a restaurant - but they’re so much cheaper!

Whether it’s a sunny late summer day or we’re lucky enough to get an Indian summer this year, one thing is for sure and that’s that picnics are a delight whatever the time of year. They’re the perfect opportunity to be sociable, get outdoors, and enjoy some good food and drink - without spending a small fortune.

Have you arranged or been invited to a picnic yet this year? If the answer is “yes”, you’ll know how much fun they are. And if the answer is “no”, well don’t worry, there’s still plenty of time to get your picnic on, and who knows, maybe this SavvySave blog post might even inspire you!

The beauty of picnics is that you don’t have to go far to have one: spread out an old rug in the back garden, take a blanket to the local park, or pack up your trusty picnic hamper and hit the grounds of a far flung stately home nestled deep in the UK countryside. Need a little inspiration? Take a look at the National Trust’s list of perfect picnic spots for a starting point.

Depending on your style, picnics can be as low key or as fancy as you make them too. If grabbing some plastic cups, disposable knives and forks, and paper plates, and throwing some pre-packed snacks from the supermarket and a few cold beers into a cool box is your thing, we say go for it. Or maybe you like your picnics to be a little more organised and are a sucker for a traditional wicker hamper, proper cutlery and glasses, and a classic tartan picnic blanket? Whatever you prefer, you only really need a few basics to get you on your way.

Here at SavvySave, we also love a good picnic because they’re inclusive, meaning they’re great fun for all the family, from babies to great grandparents. No one has to miss out; you won’t need a babysitter, you don’t have to worry about whether one of your group may feel uncomfortable at a certain venue, and there’ll be no chance of anyone getting bored either. If you have kids you’ll know what a chore it can be trying to keep them under control in a pub or restaurant - there’s none of that with a picnic; just pack a frisbee, cricket bat, football, or kite along with your grub and they’ll be kept entertained for hours. Meanwhile, those who are less sporty can go for a wander, enjoy a spot of nature, or simply sit and chat.

As well as getting some good old fashioned fresh air, one of the other benefits to packing a picnic is that you can cater for all tastes - and things are kept even simpler if those with certain dietary requirements bring along the things they’re happier eating and drinking. You probably know as well as we do what a pain it can be trying to organise a meal out when one of you is a hardcore carnivore who’s dying to check out that new steakhouse in town, while another is a committed veggie. And that’s without taking into consideration those who require gluten-free meals or who have nut allergies. Take a look at BBC Good Food’s list of tasty picnic recipes to find something that’s sure to keep all tastebuds happy.

Picnics also add a healthy dose of quirkiness when celebrating a special occasion. Are you organising a hen night but don’t fancy taking the well trodden route of wedding veils, ‘L’ plates, male strippers and ‘team t-shirts’? Arrange a picnic! If you’re a like minded group of girls and you think the bride would enjoy it, why not order a pre-packed hamper for a special event, put the bubbly on ice, and tell everyone to come wearing their prettiest boho chic florals. Flower crowns optional.

Likewise, alfresco dining is a romantic option for couples celebrating an anniversary. Picnics are also perfect for birthdays, final get togethers before the gang go off to college, or one of your close group leaves for a new job in a new town, or even a different country. Whatever the occasion, you’ll be sure to end up spending far less than you would if you’d booked a restaurant, plus you can usually be as loud as you like when dining in the open air!

And while we’re on the subject of birthdays - if you’re a parent, can you honestly say you LIKE the idea of 25 over-excited children, all hopped up on sugar and E numbers, running around your house and smearing cake icing and chocolate all over your soft furnishings? No, we didn’t think so. Take ‘em to the park instead and have a picnic! You can still play party games - but make the little tykes earn their prizes with games and sports, instead of playing pass the parcel. The other parents will thank you for it too when they come to pick them up and find them tired, happy, and ready for a good night’s sleep. Plus you can also get a few other willing mums and dads to help you out and keep an eye on the kids - luring them in with a cold beer or a glass of Pinot should do the trick.

Maybe you don’t have any birthdays, anniversaries or leaving dos coming up, but hey, that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the picnic action. If you’re a sports or music fan, why not say goodbye to soggy burgers and over priced drinks at events and festivals and pack a picnic instead? A hamper or cool box is a particularly good choice for sports such as cricket where you usually have a bit of room for maneuver and you’re there for a while (assuming rain doesn’t stop play, of course). In a similar vein, smaller more low key music festivals or outdoor concerts and gigs are just crying out for a picnic. Here at SavvySave we’re always keeping an eye on your pennies for you, and trust us, and you’ll spend a lot less by packing some tasty snacks, sandwiches, wraps, cold beers and wine than you would at the pop-up on-site fast food places and bars. And that could be something of a bonus if you’ve already spent approximately two months salary on a ticket! Slight exaggeration, but you catch our drift.

We also like the healthier aspect of picnics - they’re great if you’re trying to watch what you eat but you don’t want to miss out on hanging out with the family or your friends, because you can pack and snack upon what you want, and as much of it as you want. If you don’t have a big appetite anyway, or you’d rather just have fruit and a salad and perhaps a slice of Camembert, you can. And if you’re all splitting the costs and/or contributing to the “pot”, you’ll be able to eat what you paid for and won’t get stuck with a pocket cringing ‘split the bill’ type scenario which so often happens with big groups when you’re dining out. After all, there’s nothing like leaving a bad taste in the mouth after a nice night out than having to pay for someone else’s three course meal when you just had a starter.

So there you have it: we’ve put the case forward for the humble picnic. Now all you have to do is grab friends, family, food and fizz and find somewhere to have fun!