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Packing a Romantic Picnic

Usually, the word "picnic" conjures up thoughts of large gatherings of family and friends enjoying food and time together, usually in a park-like setting. But for eons, smart couples have been recognizing that there's much more to a picnic than just food and games. Picnics can be ultra-romantic and add a little spark to your love life, if you take a little time to plan and be creative.
Indeed, not everyone likes picnics. Some people loathe the idea of eating outdoors where all sorts of nature's critters can hone in on the fun. But when you set up your own picnic for you and your partner, you're in control and you can determine when and where you'll dine and what you'll eat. And the possibilities are endless!

Location, location, location!

Where to have this romantic rendezvous is probably the most important choice you'll have to make when planning your picnic lunch or dinner. Options include:

A park – A perennial favorite, parks are a great option, especially in the city where just about everything else is concrete. If indeed you decide on a park, scope it out beforehand and find the most secluded place possible, away from the noise of kids and other lunchtime guests.

The beach – If you're lucky enough to be near the water, choose a spot where you can view the surf or watch the boats as they sail by. If you're not near the coast, choose a spot by a local lake or other body of water.

On the water – Consider renting a canoe or other small sea-faring vessel and enjoy your picnic while on board out in the middle of the water.

On the roof – For city dwellers that live in high-rises, the roof is often a great place to plan a surprise picnic. After all, how could you beat the view?

Inside your house – Who says a picnic needs to be outdoors? You can plan a very romantic picnic in front of the fire in your living room or den. Be sure to have someone take the kids for the day (or night) so your meal (and whatever follows) is not interrupted.

The element of surprise is important when planning a romantic picnic, so
wherever you go, plan to whisk your partner off without telling him or her where you're going. Be sure, however, that he/she has time to enjoy your special meal, especially if it's a workday and he or she is expected back after lunch.

What to Pack

Picnic lunches or dinners present endless possibilities. You can pack your love's favorite cold foods or opt for a themed lunch that might have special meaning to both or you or that may hint about things to come (like a future vacation).

The French Picnic – This is a favorite with many couples and one of the easiest picnics to prepare, so it's perfect for a novice picnic planner. This simple French meal might include a large loaf of crusty bread or a few baguettes, French cheese like brie or boursin, perhaps some herbed roast chicken, strawberries, and – of course – a bottle of good French wine.

The Italian Picnic – Another ethnic favorite, Italian picnics might include an antipasto salad, a variety of olives, a few Italian cheeses like Asiago or Fontina, focaccia bread, and a rich, red wine like Chianti in a traditional basket-bottle. Biscotti rounds out the meal. Include a red-and-white checked tablecloth for a real authentic feel.

The Classic Picnic – Some picnic trends never go out of style! If you and your love enjoy the traditional, opt for cold fried chicken, potato or pasta salad (keep it cold if it contains mayo), biscuits or dinner rolls, and chocolate cake or apple pie for dessert. Make a thermos full of lemonade or ice tea to quench your thirst.

The Urban Picnic – If you're celebrating somewhere in the city, make the meal decidedly urban. Grab some great sandwiches from the local deli, and include some Kosher dill pickles, potato chips, and a few cans of root beer or other favorite soft drink.

Packing the Hamper

Once you've decided on a menu, you'll want to make sure you have everything you need or the surprise and the ambience will be ruined. First of all, invest in a good picnic hamper that can carry everything you require so you're not juggling a bunch of bags or other packages. Many include dishes, cutlery, napkins and tablecloths, wine glasses and cork screw, and insulated bottle and food holders. What you need will depend on what you've planned for the meal. Other necessities may include:

A sharp knife and small cutting board for bread
Salt and pepper shakers
Serving spoons
Zippered bags for leftovers
Garbage bags for trash
Wet wipes or hand sanitizer
A small CD player for listening to romantic music
Candles and matches for some romantic ambience