Perfect Picnic Accessories for Fabulous Alfresco Dining

What's not to love about a picnic? You've found the perfect spot (a bit uneven) to spread the rug, you've laid out the perfect lunch (so what if the sarnies are a bit soggy?), and you're ready to relax (spend the next hour shooing a bee away). But seriously, we love a summer picnic and all that comes with it. Having the right kit (basket, blanket, picnic knife – yes, you can have a knife just for picnics) can make it even more enjoyable, so we've picked a few of our favourite alfresco finds to get you started.

Family picnic

The blanket

You may think a blanket is a blanket. Well, think again, as we educate you in the ways of the master picnicker. Choose your style – country gingham, classic wool (but do think about those summer bare legs), linen for a Mediterranean vibe…the list goes on. Whilst we can’t tell you which aesthetic is right for you, we can give you some top tips on what to think about when buying a picnic blanket. If your ideal spot is a walk away, then you might want to try a foldable version that rolls into a bag (you’ll look cool carrying it too…we promise 😉). Or what about opting for one that comes with a waterproof underside, handy for British summer time and soggy bottoms. We also suggest you go to town and give that rug a glow up. Throw down some outdoor cushions (like indoor ones but, well, more suited to the outdoors) and add a few folding chairs (for those that prefer to picnic in comfort).

Picnic basket

The basket

What picnic type are you – practical rucksack or cute picnic basket? Wicker baskets are the most quintessential way to transport your picnic, and they’re highly Instagrammable too. You can even get them complete with a picnic set inside. A pre-loved Fortnum & Masons picnic hamper is the definition of a good find.

These days, there are also rucksack designs where pretty meets practical and all your essentials have their place inside. A cooler bag or a cool box is a fantastic idea for sweltering summer days and will make sure your lemonade stays at the optimum temperature and your chocolate remains un-melted.

cutlery at a picnic

The picnic set

Some people (the smart ones who like to save time) like to take a pre-made picnic set, complete with all their cutlery and al fresco dining essentials inside. If you’re making your own set, here’s a little checklist:

  • Cutlery (for obvious reasons). And you might need a sharp knife or bread knife if you haven’t pre-sliced things (no-one wants to be gnawing from a block of cheese…)
  • Picnic glasses. At Gumtree, we believe in reusables, so instead of the plastic cups from the corner shop, why not pack some cups and glasses that not only look better but are better for the environment?
  • Plates and/or bowls (it would be hard to eat otherwise 😉). Of course, a cute matching set of reusable plates and bowls completes the picture, and ensures you don’t need single-use paper ones.
  • Napkins are handy for spills and crumbs. Linen and cotton napkins are having a bit of a resurgence recently, thanks to the Cottagecore trend. They are less likely to blow away too!
  • Tupperware or plastic boxes – or even beeswax wraps – are great for transporting your food to the picnic and keeping your leftovers afterwards.
  • Ice blocks inside your cool-bag will keep everything at an ideal, edible temperature, especially if you have melt-able morsels.

Our top tip: if you’re taking spare sun cream or SPF (always handy), pack it in with the cool blocks. There’s nothing more refreshing (and non-sticky) than cool sun cream on hot skin. Thank us later for this one…

picnic with friends

Other handy picnic accessories

These little extras are the cherry on the cake:

  • Refreezable ice cubes to keep everyone’s drink cool once it’s decanted.
  • A flask, because an afternoon is rarely complete without tea (and a day at the seaside in this country can be a tad breezy).
  • A camera (disposable, Polaroid or just your phone), to capture the moment.
  • Pre-mixed cocktails or mocktails to add a little extra pizzazz to an adult picnic party.
  • Fresh flowers, if you’re feeling a bit ‘extra’ or you’re celebrating something special (not that essential if you’re hiking to a cairn for a sandwich).
  • Some kind of entertainment. Why not pack your book, a magazine or a Bluetooth speaker for some gentle tunes (as long as they don’t disturb your picnicking neighbours)? Alternatively, you could bring a game or bat and ball as a post-lunch activity.
Cream tea picnic

Top themed picnic ideas

Now you’ve got your picnic accessories, it’s time to plan out the menu. We have plenty of picnic ideas for the whole family:

  • The Famous-Five-Inspired Classic: includes things like sandwiches, sausage rolls, scotch eggs, quiche, ginger beer (lashings of it, apparently) and possibly fruit cake.
  • The Cream Tea: includes – you guessed it – scones, jam, cream and a flask of tea.
  • The Pudding Picnic: only sweet things, so stick on an episode of Bake Off and go wild.
  • The Mediterranean Lunch: think meat and cheese platter, some falafel, focaccia, a Greek salad, even cold pizza if you fancy… there are so many options.
  • The Cornucopia: a fruit platter with watermelon, pineapple, oranges and berries galore. Strawberries dipped in chocolate on a kebab-style stick are a great pudding option here and a smoothie wouldn’t go amiss.
  • The Nostalgia Picnic: what’s included will depend a bit on your age, but let’s wind it back to vintage picnics, children’s birthday parties and the buffets of yore. We’re thinking cheese and pineapple, melon and ham, cocktail sausages, devilled eggs, fairy cakes or fondant fancies and a crisp flavour that takes you back (we recommend Skips, Wotsits and prawn-cocktail-anything).

Looking for more ideas to liven up your picnic or want to take advantage of your garden space at home for alfresco dining? Take a look at our article 7 themes for the perfect garden party.

Fruit platter

Feeling hangry? We’re not sorry. It’s time to start packing your hamper. Find all your essential picnic accessories on Gumtree and conjure up a fancy and picture-worthy afternoon on a budget by giving pre-loved finds a second chance. We’ll see you at the park.