What to pack for a cool weather picnic.

The leaves are off the trees and your local convenience store is already selling holiday goods: that's one sure sign that it must be cool weather picnic season. Wait, what? Yes, it's a thing everyone should be enjoying. Cool weather means less bugs, more space in the parks, crunchy leaves for a softer pad under the picnic throw, and a switch to warm, yummy favorites vs. cold cut sandwiches and salads.

Get those picnic plans in motion. There's really only so much time before you have to break out your skis again. Plus, what's the point of the cool season if you don't have a picnic potluck? When life gives you blue skies and sweater weather, you grab the picnic basket.

What are you going to bring along? Let's get right to it.

Here is a list of the cool weather picnic essentials:

The key to having a great picnic is to avoid overpacking. Bring the essentials but remember that the whole reason you're going is so that you can enjoy the free time out with your friends.

  • Picnic basket. With plates and utensils. Some baskets have coolers and a spot to chill your wine (rosé not included).
  • Blankets.
  • A large heavy book. It may sound counterintuitive to lug extra weight with you, but if you want to keep a piece of fall for your scrapbook, you can use the book to press leaves.
  • Water. You don't want to lay the blanket down, have all the food ready to go and then realize there's no water fountain for miles. That's a harsh reality and it does happen. So bring that water!
  • A sun hat in case all the good shady spots are taken. If it's overcast, don't overthink it.
  • An emergency umbrella. You can keep it in the car, maybe use it as a parasol if you're a glass half full kind of person. But it is there to save you in case of rain.
  • Speaking of glasses, bring cups.
  • Decorative gourds? Yes. Bring those unless you feel like you're overpacking.
  • Do I even need to put this on here? Cheese board. And the right cutlery. Read on!

Best platters for a fall picnic?

We'll get to the lunch and dinners soon, but what's a picnic without the appetizers? Here are some pretty platter ideas for your fall picnic.

  • Call it a charcuterie board or nosh plate. You'll thrive with assorted meats (salami, prosciutto), olives, dips, nuts and sliced bread.
  • Tea sandwiches. You can make them Thanksgiving-centric (turkey and cranberries with stuffing, on multi-grain). Or you can keep it classic with a BLT. Mix and match your Autumnal taste.
  • Like we said before, a cheese platter will tie it all together. Throw in grapes, brown mustard, and water crackers and your cheeses will astound.

Is it a friends and family fall picnic?

Picnics are unique. Each and every one. When you plan your fall picnic you want to be sure that you invite the right amount of people so that you bring just the right amount of food. Larger friend groups and family picnics are going to call for larger spaces and table areas. Not only for seating but for all the food you'll bring. Let's take charge of this event.

Bring along one or two strong canvas totes and you can fit all the extra fix-ins. And if you're feeling like you're taking on too much, see if a friend can help you buy a couple groceries or help with the recipes for your outing.

Recipe ideas for larger group picnics:

  • Beet and Apple Salad.
  • Pumpkin Pie. Sure, apples are in season too, but you can make apple pie year-round without anybody thinking twice. Now's the time to get all the pumpkin pie your year desires.
  • Butternut Squash with Goat Cheese and Spinach. If you're feeling like making that into more of a pasta dish, it would be stellar for a big picnic group.
  • Pro tip: Make sure you're aware of everybody's dietary restrictions. For instance, if somebody has a gluten allergy they'll bring something that they're able to eat. If that's you, then you might have to take on that task.

Or is it a romantic fall picnic date?

If you're not sure if it's a romantic fall picnic date check to see if you're going with anybody aside from your SO. If it's a planned date night, wonderful.

If it's a third or fourth date, you're going to want to make sure you both know what to bring. In that case look at the list above, but if you're more interested in crafting a cheese and charcuterie plate, find a nice wine to pair with the occasion.

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