The start of football season and shorter summer days have me hankering for a classic picnic in the park before the chill of fall hits. When I was a kid, that meant heading to Arbuckle Acres park in Brownsburg, Indiana, with my parents and brother for grilled hot dogs and time on the playground. As an adult, I prefer to dress up my alfresco dining a bit: spread colorful blankets on picnic tables, tie streamers from low tree branches and bundle utensils with napkins—though hot dogs and playtime (flag football, anyone?) are still a must. Add a little flair to your next picnic, perhaps this upcoming Labor Day weekend, with these ideas and fun new products.
1) No picnic table? No problem. Prop wood planks from a home store on milk crates, use Kraft paper as the tablecloth and surround the stylish makeshift table with colorful pillows or cushions as seats.
2) Dress dogs with atypical toppings: barbecue sauce and coleslaw; peanut sauce, carrot, cucumber and cilantro; or bacon, tomato, onion, pinto beans, tomatillo salsa, Cotija cheese and green chiles. Of course, don't forget traditional ketchup, mustard and relish. (See our homemade relish, sauce and spread recipes.)
3) Serve fruit-flavor beverages in Mason jars with handles, lids and straws for easy sipping.
4) No picnic is complete without melty, sticky s'mores. Take it up a notch with creative fruit and candy fillings: thin candy bars like peppermint patties, chocolate chips, banana and strawberries slices, or coconut flakes. Click for s'mores ideas.
5) Need new picnicware? Try these stylish outdoor-friendly products:
Durable melamine plates from JCPenney.
Simple, sustainable birchwood flatware set from Crate and Barrel.
Old-fashioned oil lanterns in super-fun hues from Terrain.
Wood plank table and Mason jars photos by King Au; produced and styled by Stephen Perfetto. Hot dog photo by Blaine Moats; food styling by Dianna Nolin. S'mores photo by Blaine Moats; produced by Diana McMillen. Plates photo courtesy of JCPenney. Flatware photo courtesy of Crate and Barrel. Lantern photo courtesy of Terrain.
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