By Elizabeth Palmer
Recently I read my son’s story book, where he wrote about our last holiday. It said “We are going to Tathra, because we never get to go anywhere”. I’m afraid it’s true. Lack of funds and my husband’s work commitments generally means we are staying home when other people are leaving town. But one thing we do do – and do often – is have picnics.
Picnics are a great way to spend some quality family time together. And it’s a fun way to do something special when a holiday is out of the question. Even though it doesn’t take up much time, it can be just as meaningful as a holiday. I can remember each picnic our family has had – and I know the children do too.
The best thing about having a picnic, is it’s easy to have a picnic that suits your needs. If you only have an hour to spare, you can make a quick snack and take it down to the local park or river. If you want to make a day of it, packs lots of food and lots of games and pick a place that is good for a walk or a swim. And don’t forget to take a camera, so you don’t miss out on your “holiday shots”.
If money isn’t an issue, pack some special food that you don’t generally eat. Splurge on the kinds of foods that you generally pass by in the supermarket. If you’re on a budget, then limit the foods to less expensive ones. Enhance the experience by cooking some food with your children beforehand.
Picnics can also be a great time to socialise with other people without having to spend a lot of time preparing your house or trying to impress. Ask people to bring along their own picnic lunch or a meal or snack to share. On the subject of socialising, I’ve found picnics are a fun way to have a cheap stress-free birthday party. Children seem to have more fun in an outdoor environment and there’s very little cleaning up to do afterwards.
Our family has special picnic spots that we go to often. They feel like our own special places. But we also like to try out new spots. There are so many places you can go to have a picnic; neighbouring towns, spots by a river, playgrounds, historic buildings, botanic gardens, national parks. When all you need is a picnic rug and a hamper full of food, there are tons of possibilities. I could have a picnic at a new spot every week and still never run out of places to go.
We also have special days when we have picnics. Boxing Day is a good day for us to have a picnic. It gets rid of some of those Christmas leftovers. However, I do live in Australia and the weather might be a bit better for a picnic on Boxing Day for me than it is for you.
A picnic can become a pain if you are not prepared. Check and double-check your food hamper. Do you have enough plates, knives, serving spoons, napkins? Make sure you have a picnic rug if you need one. Check the weather and be prepared. Take sunscreen, hats and aeroguard if necessary, or warm coats if the weather is cooler. If there’s a possibility of rain go somewhere where you can eat under shelter.
Think about ways you can make your picnic even more special. Take a pretty tablecloth, pretty napkins and a nice centrepiece. Write notes to your family, telling them how much you love them and love spending time with them, and place them under their plates. Include a favourite food for each family member. Pack a surprise that nobody knows is in there. Create your own picnic traditions. How about a special song you sing on the way to the picnic? My sons and me sing a song about a bumpy road that always has everybody in giggles. Create a picnic king or queen. Make special hats that you only wear for picnics. Create a rule that everybody going on a picnic has to wear something blue or red.
If everybody is starting to get stressed or irritated, then it’s time to rethink what you’re doing. If you hate cooking, don’t feel like you have to cook food for the picnic. Buy it instead. Don’t make everybody play a certain game if nobody really likes it. The picnic should reflect what your family likes doing. Remember that the idea of a picnic is to bond as a family and have fun.
For more articles on arts and crafts, family and relationships, homemaking, christian living, frugality, fun and entertainment, food and more, go to Elizabeth Palmer’s Traditional Living website, at [http://geocities.com/historylass/tradliving.htm] or you can subscribe to the Traditional Living newsletter by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org