Terrific Kid-Pleasing Picnic Ideas
Pack a basket with treats kids make themselves for outdoor eating adventures
Think no-cook snacks and bite-sized finger food
Say “picnic” to children and watch their faces light up. Magic happens when meals are eaten in the open air. Maybe it’s eating in a different place—outdoors, on the ground—with no table or chairs! Maybe it’s the special picnic food, the easy-to-transport-and-nibble treats. Even spontaneous rainy-day picnics inside on the family room rug guarantee delight. Kids also adore the opportunity to cook, so double the fun by letting them prepare their own picnic goodies.
Make these kid-friendly picnic favorites
Picnic foods kids make themselves needn’t be complicated. Think no-cook snacks and bite-size finger food, simple sandwiches, cheese sticks, fruit and veggie chunks, drinkable yogurt cups, and you’re there. A little adult supervision is the trick to get things ready.
- Combine handfuls of small crackers, dried cranberries or raisins, almonds, and a favorite dry cereal for a jazzy trail mix.
- Make funny face sandwiches using a 3- or 4-inch (8- to 10-cm) round cookie cutter to cut out bread slice circles. Place a circle of cheese on the bread and use cucumber rounds, pepper slices, cherry tomato halves, and sliced olives to make eyes, nose, eyebrows, and mouth.
- Spread whole-wheat tortillas with softened cream cheese, then layer your child's favorite salad leaves, turkey or ham slices, and grated carrots; roll them up and they’re ready to go. “Hold them together with a party toothpick and they’ll look pretty, too,” advises Gillen Freebing, age 13, of Memphis, Tennessee.
- Toss precooked bow tie or elbow pasta with mayo, peas, and halved cherry tomatoes; season with salt and pepper for a tasty picnic salad.
- Stash water bottles or juice boxes in the freezer an hour before leaving so they’re super cold; add fizzy water to juice for a soda substitute.
Buy these picnic essentials, too
Ensure kids have a super-fine picnic by packing these basics in their basket:
- Large blanket or tablecloth to sit on
- Nonbreakable plates, cups, and utensils
- Napkins, handiwipes, and paper towels
- A large garbage bag (don’t leave any trash behind)
- Sunscreen, insect repellent
Judith H. Dern, an independent writer living in Seattle, is especially fond of picnics on warm summer evenings before performances at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.