'I Style Picnics for a Living – Here Are the Most Common Mistakes Everyone Makes'
We are all guilty of excitedly settling down to enjoy a picnic only to open our baskets to find room temperature food that should be hot, warm champagne that should be chilled, and a lack of stylish supplies. It's disappointing to feel as though we have spent our money and planned a nice day out only for it to not go quite as expected. After all, we aren't experts!
While picnics are generally very laidback affairs, we can't deny that we would love to know exactly what we should be doing to have the best outing possible, especially now that we are able to gather with family and friends again.
We spoke to picnic expert Vicki Ryvchin of Milk & Honey Picnics to find out what the most common mistakes people are making when it comes to organising and executing a picnic and how we can avoid them for the perfect day out.
And if all else fails or you are looking to host a picnic for a special occasion, use a professional picnic service and/or use a caterer.
The Most Common Picnic Mistakes Everyone Makes and How to Avoid Them
1. Packing food that needs to be cut
Given you will unlikely be using a proper, sturdy table, opting for foods that don't need cutting or that you've already cut at home is a good idea. Think about cutting food items like bread ahead of time so you're not attempting to do it on a soft surface or left rocking your small portable table and spilling food.
2. Packing hot food
Foods that are designed to be be eaten hot, like a roast, aren’t a good idea. “Think of the transport time to your picnic, laying it out, by the time your guests come, it's been exposed to so many elements, will it still taste good?” says Vicki. Instead, opt for foods that are ideal at room temperature.
3. Choosing food that doesn’t do well at room temperature
Avoid bringing along food that doesn't do well in the fresh air or food that can't be served at room temperature. In particular foods like eggs, mayonnaise, creams, fruit salads, and seafood - As much as Australian's love fresh prawns, they are also very messy to deal with at picnics. Some great options include zucchini slice, focaccia, rice paper rolls, and a cheeseboard.
4. Food that easily melts
"I've seen many a disaster scene with a cake completely melted by the time you're ready to cut the cake!" Stick to foods that won't melt easily or make sure you are fully prepared with an esky that's filled with ice packs.
5. Over catering
Over catering is another issue. People don't usually expect to eat a gigantic feast at a picnic, so don't bring your entire fridge. Picnics are for nibbling and mostly finger food. "A charcuterie spread is the ideal picnic accompaniment!" says Vicki. Food wastage is a huge problem and you don't want to be left throwing away spoiled food and the end of the day.
6. Poor styling
Styling goes wrong because people don't typically have lots of accessories and decor that's appropriate for picnics lying around.
“There is so much that goes into our styling process, we have beautifully matching linen for the table, lots of candles and candle sticks, and beautiful dried flower arrangements to add depth to the table. I've seen picnics fall down with the colour scheme (where there isn't one), mismatched cushions with clashing colours are a big no no.”
If you're on a budget, do something small that will bring your picnic to life; add a small bouquet of fresh flowers, try to source some matching napery, use ceramic plates and real cutlery, and bring along your glass goblets.
7. Choosing the wrong location
Your location is a huge part of how your picnic will feel. Get it wrong and your whole event will be thrown off. Vicki recommends finding a location that reflects you and the event. It could be somewhere right by your house, your garden, a national park, beachside or at the cliffs overlooking the ocean (be mindful as some places require a permit).
Find a spot with some shade or sun if it's a nippy day. If you're using a professional picnic service, ask if they have a sun umbrella for you. If you have less mobile or elderly guests, bring chairs to assist them, sitting on the ground isn't for everyone.