When you think of a picnic, do you picture a blanket spread over lush green grass, tall glasses of lemonade, and a lazy day spent in the warm sun? Well, let's reimagine what a picnic can be by giving it a wintry-white backdrop and activities that include snowmen and sledding! Go on a winter picnic? Of course you can! Picnics aren't confined to 80° days. Here are some tips to make your winter picnic just as enjoyable as their warm-weather counterpart!
Dressing For a Winter Picnic
What to wear will greatly depend on where you are and what kind of weather you'll be picnicing in. For example, here in Michigan, we can have a sunny 50° day followed by a blustery 16° day, so we always have to be prepared for what's coming. Layers work wonders! You can shed them if you get too warm, and put them back on when it gets cold. Also bring along gloves, hats, scarves, snow pants, and a nice warm coat. And if you're lucky enough to have a pair of gloves or mittens with removable fingers, you'll be able to keep your hands warm when you eat.
Packing For Your Winter Picnic
Take advantage of what nature has given you! Bring along cans of soda but ditch the cooler and bags of ice! When you get to your destination, just plop those cold drinks into the snow and let nature keep them cool! If you have hot food, you’ll want to make sure to bring along things that will keep them warm like insulated containers, thermoses, or something you can plug in like a crockpot (assuming you’ll have electrical outlets where you’re going). The rest of the items are pretty typical such as plates, napkins, etc. One thing we like to remind picnickers to bring is trash bags. It’s no fun having to carry out a bunch of garbage with nothing to put it in. And you never know if your picnic location will have trash receptacles, so be prepared to leave the area as you found it--trash free! Finally, for easy-peasy transport, bring along a sled! Put your food and other belongings in it and simply pull it across the snow.
The Right Foods For a Winter Picnic
What does one bring to eat on a winter picnic? Refrigerated items, like potato salad and turkey sandwiches, are easy to keep cold, but who wants to eat cold food when it's freezing outside? Instead, opt for items that will warm you from the inside out. Just make sure you have thermoses and other insulated containers to keep them in!
Hot Chocolate: No cold-weather outing is complete without steaming-hot cups of hot chocolate! Make it at home and fill thermoses with it! And don't forget the marshmallows (lots of them!).
Soups/Stews: There’s nothing like a hot bowl of soup or stew to hit the spot on a cold winter’s day! Cook up some soup or a nice hardy stew before you head out for your picnic! If you’re going where you can plug in a crockpot, keep it in the crockpot so it stays nice and hot until you’re ready for it! If you won’t be able to bring along a crockpot, do like you did with the hot chocolate and fill up your thermoses with it.
Hot Sandwiches: You can prepare hot sandwiches beforehand and then wrap them in heavy foil to help keep them hot. Stay simple with a grilled cheese or go all out and make a French dip with au jus (in a thermos!).
Grill/Campfire Cooking: Just because it’s cold doesn’t mean you can’t harness the power of a campfire! If you’re in an area where you can build a campfire, do it! Not only can you cook and keep food warm this way, but your posse can gather around it to keep themselves warm. If you can’t do a campfire, bring along a portable grill! You can set a Dutch oven on it or grill up some perch that you caught ice fishing!
Winter Picnic Activities
There’s more to a picnic than just the food! Just like a summer picnic, you’ll want to plan activities for your picnic goers. Here are some fun things you can plan to do in the winter wonderland in which you set up!
Sledding: Plan your picnic somewhere near hills and have everyone bring a sled! This is one of the most fun and easy winter activities you can do in the snow. It’s great for all ages and provides hours of fun!
Snowman Building Contest: See who can build the biggest and best snowman! Afterward you can all vote to determine the winner. People who aren't building can be judges.
Snowshoeing/Cross-Country Skiing: If there are trails around, take advantage of them! Have everyone bring snowshoes or skis and get out there and explore. You’ll be amazed at the winter wildlife and scenery that's uncovered now that the trees are all bare.
Snowball Fight: Who can resist a good snowball fight? Build snow forts and unload on one another! The fun competition and fresh air will wear out the kids for a sound night of sleep!
Heading out on a winter picnic is something anyone can do! Just make sure you stay warm and know when to head inside. You don’t want anyone ending up with frostbite!