July is National Picnic Month! Dr. Kirby Shares Her Top Tips for Planning the Best Family-Friendly Picnic
As a mother of two, I cherish spending long summer days with my family—and nothing says summer fun quite like a picnic! Picnics are the ideal opportunity for bringing together immediate and extended family, or friends you have not seen in a while. Whether you are embarking on a full summer vacation or just a quick day trip, here are my tips for planning the perfect family picnic.
1. Pack foods that everyone will enjoy
Though it can be tempting to pack the latest gourmet recipe you have been wanting to try, the best picnics are simple. If you stick to easily prepared foods that appeal to everyone in your group, you will have more time to enjoy yourself and keep the focus on having fun.
Are gluten-free or vegan family members complicating the matter? Choose a menu that is readily adaptable. For example, assemble-your-own sandwiches allow everyone to enjoy the same meal together: vegetarians can swap meat for avocado slices, while gluten-free friends and Paleo dieters can enjoy their fillings on alternative “bread” (or in a bowl without bread) You can also pack extra snacks that are easy to share, like cheese & crackers or a veggie tray, for your group to munch on while you set up the main meal.
Remember to select foods that will travel easily and are not extremely sensitive to temperature variations. If anything needs refrigeration, be sure to keep it in a sturdy cooler with plenty of ice packs.
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When it comes to beverages, instead of corn syrup-laden sodas, consider picking up some healthier fruit-infused iced teas, like Tazo’s Lemon Ginger tea or Honest Tea’s Mango White tea. If you are packing for sweet-toothed little ones, IZZE makes delicious fruit juice seltzers with no added sugars or preservatives that come in fun flavors like blackberry, pomegranate, and apple.
2. Know your location
Choose a space that you know has picnic tables. If you are planning a large gathering, try to reserve your spot in advance. If you are going somewhere that does not have tables, make sure you have a flat, dry place to lay out blankets or towels on the ground—or you might choose to pack your own chairs and foldable table.
Above all else, consider restroom facilities!
Shade is also essential; check online photos of the park or read Google reviews to make sure there are trees or shelters nearby for your family to get a break from the sun. And, above all else, consider restroom facilities!
3. Always pack these essentials
It’s hard to enjoy a picnic without certain essentials: napkins, hand wipes, silverware, and plates. A roll of paper towels always comes in handy too! If you want to cut down on plastic and paper waste, consider packing lightweight reusable bamboo plates and silverware that you can throw in the dishwasher when you get home. You may also choose to bring a separate bag for your recyclables if there will not be a bin nearby.
Also remember to pack sunscreen and bug spray. Kalos Medical Spa at Kirby Plastic Surgery, offers a variety of professional skincare products, including medical grade, broad spectrum sunscreens from brands like SkinCeuticals and iS Clinical. For bug spray, I like Greenerways Organic Insect Repellent because it does not stain clothing and it is safe for kids, pets, and even babies.
Finally, do make sure to bring a few blankets for people to relax on. The perfect picnic blanket is one that is lightweight, yet sturdy. Mark & Graham offers a gorgeous, high quality picnic blanket with a waterproof bottom and a leather carry handle available for monogramming.
Here is one of my favorite tips: Pack all of your non-perishable picnic supplies in advance, or simply keep extra silverware and napkins in your picnic basket. We also like to pack extra salt, pepper, and shelf-stable hot sauce in reusable containers ready for picnics and tailgating.
4. The more games, the better
From frisbee to basketball and everything in between, a picnic in the park is the perfect occasion for family games. This does not need to take too much planning—just toss any balls and toys you spy in your garage into the back of your car the day before you leave. Or, for a crowd-pleasing activity that requires almost no planning, have your family download a geocaching app on their phones and enjoy a team scavenger hunt!
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5. Be flexible
I cannot emphasize this piece of advice enough: if you want to have fun, stay flexible when planning your family picnic. Here are a few tips to help you go with the flow:
- You can have a last-minute weeknight picnic without needing to do a lot of planning or taking off work.
- Though your weather forecast may show sun, it sure does not hurt to prepare for rain. Is your picnic table under a shelter or is there a shelter nearby in case you need to wait out a storm? Check the weather before you go and plan accordingly, but be willing to adapt at a moment’s notice. Our family has finished a few picnics in our minivan!
- If you have invited friends or extended family to your picnic, know that they could cancel—and that is okay. Save any extra food and drinks, and make the most of your time with those who are present.
- Ask for help before you feel overwhelmed. You can ask your kids to participate in counting out all the items you need to pack and gathering accessories. If you are picnicking with relatives, ask them to bring a few dishes (but make sure you are bringing different foods).
6. Picnics are about spending quality time together
Above all else, keep in mind that family picnics are not about the food, the location, or the weather. While these things are important, the ultimate goal of your picnic should be about spending time with your friends and family.
Families can be difficult, and, like any family event, picnics can prevent opportunities for friction. In these moments, it is important to remember that you are not responsible for making sure everyone has a good time. Make your intention of bonding and creating memories together known, deal with issues as they (may) arise, and try to let any tension go in the moment. Practice these suggestions and you are bound to have a wonderful family picnic!
Bonus: My favorite Fort Worth picnic areas
Where are the best parks in Fort Worth to have a family picnic, you ask? Here is a short list of my family’s favorites:
- Forest Park. With over 180 acres of green space nestled right in the city, Forest Park is one of Fort Worth’s most popular parks. Located along the south side of the Clear Fork of the Trinity River, this park offers shelters, tables, trails, and grills, and is home to the Fort Worth Zoo, Forest Park Swimming Pool, and the Forest Park Miniature Railroad. This park gets a lot of visitors, so consider making reservations well in advance for large groups.
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- The Trailhead at Clearfork. The Trailhead at Clearfork is the perfect spot for an urban picnic. Conveniently located at the terminus of the 60-mile Trinity Trail system in Fort Worth’s Clearfork development, the Trailhead offers trail-goers healthy food options, shopping, group yoga, and more. You can pack your own food or grab a bite from Press Cafe or the Clearfork Farmers Market and spread out on the sprawling lawn. Plus, the Trailhead hosts a variety of children’s activities and classes to keep your little ones entertained!
- Trinity Park. Located just across the Clear Fork of the Trinity River from Forest Park, Trinity Park boasts 35 miles of multi-use riverfront trails. Kids are bound to enjoy the park’s duck pond and multiple playgrounds (including a separate toddler playground!), while parents will appreciate the reprieve of this green urban oasis. Trinity Park has picnic pavilions, restrooms, and water fountains located throughout.
Looking to enhance your appearance in the Fort Worth area?
Board certified female plastic surgeon, Dr. Emily Kirby, performs a wide range of surgical and nonsurgical procedures at her Fort Worth surgical center. If you are a Fort Worth resident or just visiting the area, Dr. Kirby invites you to schedule a personal consultation with her online or by calling (817) 292-4200.