The Ins And Outs Of Picnics: How To Picnic In Style

As the lockdown measures ease up, picnics are a safe way to socialize and party with your family and friends. You can turn them into an elegant soiree, a romantic night, or a fun-filled girls night: the choice is yours. We are here with some ideas and inspirations for you're the ultimate party!

Picnic Origins

Originally created by the French, picnics were indoor gatherings where guests would bring along food to share. It's not until the 19th century that it became exclusively associated with eating outdoors. Although "pique", meaning to pick at food, was used to describe the activity, "nique", in perfectly French style, was simply added to make it rhyme.

Picnics were current in medieval times, especially during the hunting season as large banquets were often organised. Yet they only really took off and became trendy in the Victorian times due to painters such as Monet and Cezanne and writers such as Dickens and Jane Austen including them in their works.

Although picnics were originally exclusive to the wealthy class, after the French Revolution, the royal parks opened to the public for the first time, allowing the newly enfranchised to take part in such activities. Ultimately picnics became accessible to all.

Today, picnics are a wonderful way to get family and friends together. Often taking place in beautiful surroundings, picnics can either be classy or laid-back and sometimes even romantic or intimate depending on what you are after.
Riverside picnic, arranged and styled by Chaika Events

Get Inspired

On the screen

The most famous picnics to get inspired can be found in the all-time favourite movies.
To Catch a Thief, 1954

We adore the picnic from Alfred Hitchcock's To Catch a Thief movie with Grace Kelly and Cary Grant. Set up on the Grand Corniche coast road, between Nice and Monte Carlo, it's an elegant open-air soiree with an intimate lunch from the hamper basket.
To Catch A Thief Movie Scene,
To Catch A Thief Movie Scene,

Emma, 1996

For something closer to home and easier to re-create, head over the Box Hill in Surrey, where Jane Austen's Emma, picnics with her friends and finally realises that she's in love. The scene is beautifully depicted in this 1996 film adaptation of Emma with Gwyneth Paltrow as the lead actress.
To Catch A Thief Movie Scene,
Emma Movie Scene,

Sideways, 2004

This romantic comedy about two friends travelling through California wine country is a perfect inspiration for the casual picnic at the vineyard. Grab a blanket and some sandwiches, and head for the walk around Bluebell Vineyard Estates. Don't miss the chance to try some wine in the open air.
To Catch A Thief Movie Scene,
Sideways Movie Scene,

Picnic, 1955

Of course, we could not oversee the Picnic, a 1955 romantic comedy. The main action of the movie happens during a huge Labour Day picnic in Halstead's Riverside Park, Kansas and provides us a perfect look on the casual picnic version.
To Catch A Thief Movie Scene,
Picnic Movie Scene

In real life

If you prefer to get inspired by real-life events rather than books and movies, here are a few ideas where to find classy picnics.
Glyndebourne: Where Picnic and Opera Meet
Glyndebourne is the epitome of picnicking in style. If you enjoy opera and dressing up for the occasion, look no further. Glyndebourne gardens offer opera lovers the opportunity to enjoy an outdoor dining experience while savouring the sumptuous sounds of opera music. You can bring your own picnic or enjoy a fully catered experience, which comes with picnic furniture and a porter. Settle down in the beautiful gardens of Glyndebourne and enjoy the countryside views.

Beaulieu: Park Up and Enjoy Your Picnic
If opera isn't quite up your street, Beaulieu offers the opportunity to enjoy a drive-in picnic with some live music. This is the perfect opportunity to take your classic car out for a drive and enjoy the company of friends and family while picnicking in the beautiful grounds of Beaulieu. Sit back, relax and enjoy live New Orleans style jazz music.

In addition to the live band, you can take a tour around the National Motor Museum. For your little ones, there is a "Little Beaulieu" play area with secret passageways to discover.

Pub in the Park
If for you picnic is first of all about good food, Pub in the Park festival is the great option for you. The festival is a combination of glorious British pub food from the award-winning chefs led by Tom Kerridge, and live music with old favourites, popular bands and cult classics.

This summer, they switched to the drive-in Garden Party. It's an innovative way of enjoying amazing food and a great line-up of live music and all from the safety of your own private enclosure!

Arrange your own picnic

Where to host a picnic

Of course, you can always go with a scenic natural spot in one of the Natural Trust properties or famous British castles, or opt-in for more unique experience.

For example, why not hire a boat and enjoy a picnic while travelling downstream on the Thames. We can help you arrange this romantic ride down the river or a family day out to discover London landmarks from the water.

If the idea of having to pack a picnic and get in your car is too much hassle, why not have your very own outdoor movie picnic evening. You'll need some bean bags, cushions and blankets to get cozied up in front of Vamvo Outdoor Projector Screen for a movie night. That's a perfect format for a romantic night, kids party, family gathering, a girls-only sleepover or a hen-do.

Picnic Essentials and Recommendations

No matter which format you choose, you'll always need a few essentials for the top-notch experience, such as picnic baskets, blankets, tableware and glassware. Carefully selecting these essentials will make your picnic stand out.

For a boat picnic, we recommend the turquoise homeware picnic collection of Fortnum & Mason or their ready-made hampers Fortnum & Mason Luxury Hampers.

For a more classy option, perfect for Glyndebourne, go for Tolly McRae's luxury picnic rugs, The Luxe Company's rangpur leather picnic trunk and J.A. Marshall & Sons' drinks case.

For a picnic like Beaulieu or Pub in the Park we recommend Not On The High Street's personalized picnic hamper and Daylesford's white and green tableware collection.

A perfect food selection is key to a successful picnic. To avoid the stress of preparing entrés, mains and desserts, you may want to hire a caterer and enjoy your picnic without the stress of cooking. We recommend Duke's Hotel especially if you want to bring along your furry friend and allow them to enjoy their very own bespoke picnic. Other options include Platter London and Daylesford.

Set up you picnic spot

Arrange your setup in layers, starting with the iconic English wool picnic blanket. You can find a perfect option at the F&M in neutral beige and off-white colours with a handy genuine leather handle to carry it around. Arrange your plates on top of contrasting napkins – I like fine cotton white with pink scallop napkins from Sophie Conran London - or rattan placemats, which you can find in Zara Home or Anthropologie stores. Bring food to your picnic spot in the elegant picnic basket; it gives your al fresco setting classic and contemporary vibes at the same time.

Now to the plates. To add some life to the muted natural colour palette of our blankets and placemats, we chose the Bordallo Pinheiro crockery. This fine earthenware is hand-painted by skilled artisans in Portugal, featuring detailed daisies, dahlias and roses with cheerful green, pink and yellow. Another bright accent is the eye-catching serving ware in pink and green: cake stands, large platters and small leave-shaped dishes are a perfect choice to present your cakes and canapés in a stylish and fun way. Match the plates with genuine bamboo handle cutlery and stainless steel from Sabre Paris.

What about drinks? Natural colour rattan cage pitcher and coordinated high ball from Hammett and a fresh pink swirl from Murano Italy will complete your bohemian set perfectly.

If you plan a picnic party, we are here to help. Drop us a line and we'll arrange for you a picture-perfect setup, the best catering, and a photoshoot or some live music at the venue of your choice. Let's embrace the warm weather and party outdoors!

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