The best family picnic ideas and essentials

family picnic ideas

by Samantha Ball |
Updated on

If you've been looking at ideas for days out with your toddler and family this summer, then you really should consider having a picnic with our best family picnic ideas and essentials.

Picnics are a fairly straightforward activity that can provide so many memories and hours of fun. And the best part is you don't have to venture too far for your picnic if you don't want, you can enjoy one in the comfort of your own garden!

It can become expensive looking for different outside activities to keep little ones entertained, but once you have all your picnic essentials, you can so many picnic adventures together.

Our favourite family picnic ideas shortlist 2023:

Our favourite picnic blanket for picnics: Tiny Love Outdoor Picnic Mat
Our favourite outdoor toys for picnics: Bubble Mania Bubble Machine
Our favourite shelters for picnics: Babymoov Anti-UV Tent
Our favourite picnic extras: Large Family First Aid Kit

Here at Mother&Baby, we've round up all the essentials you need for you to bring the best family picnic ideas to life.

Picnic blankets and sensory mats

Best child friendly picnic blanket for family picnic ideas

The extra large Tiny Love Outdoor Picnic Mat is the perfect mix of picnic blanket and a fun playing environment for babies. It has five engaging activities with easy grip textured starfish, shiny satin ribbons, peekaboo turtle and crinkly activity crab.

One review said: "Great picnic mat, most important that it's washable and don't like silver layer like other picnic mats. Colourful and great size. Would be very useful for picnic in the park and specialy in the beach, because of the ocean theme. Lovely attached bits and bob's makes little one intertained. Specialy my daugher loved tether. It's made from rubber, very good quality. In my opinion mat is slightly overpriced, but both other man like that on a market, so no competitors. Lovely present for new mums and dads, rather buying toys that babies loose interest in no time. Picnic mat will have use for years, even with older children."

Pros

  • Machine washable
  • 5 Engaging developmental activities
  • Water repellant base

Cons

  • No onsite reviews

Best waterproof picnic blanket for family picnic ideas

This large Life Venture Picnic Blanket is incredibly convenient for taking on picnics. It packs away small into a bag and doesn't take up much space, but when unfolded there's enough room for everyone! It's waterproof, and even has webbing loops to keep the picnic blanket secured - no more balancing shoes on the corners! It's even machine washable.

Our writer said: I love that this picnic blanket has webbing loops on the corners of the blanket so that you can make the most out of the whole picnic blanket! It's a beautiful colour that doesn't attract bees (my children were very grateful for that), and I loved that I could pop it on damp grass and it didn't soak through!"

Pros

  • Webbing loops for pegging down
  • Soft to sit on and lightweight

Cons

  • Some might prefer a more vibrant picnic blanket

Best discovery picnic blanket for family picnic ideas

Help keep your baby entertained on your picnic with the Infantino Jumbo Sensory Discovery Mat. Whether you want to give them their own space to play and explore the different textures and crinkle sounds or share the mat, they'll have a lovely outdoor sensory session!

One review said: "I got this so I’d have a good clean surface for my baby to roll around and play on since we have 2 dogs and dog hair of course. It’s large enough for a roly-poly baby, it machine washes well, and it’s just cute/bright coloured. I love it!"

Pros

  • Machine washable
  • Encourages developmental play

Cons

  • No waterproof base

Picnic baskets and food storage

Best family picnic ideas family feasting basket

While it might be on the more expensive side for a family picnic basket, it will have so much longevity as the basket can be reused, and it comes with all the cutlery essentials you need. It's a traditional hamper that's filled with lots of treats for parents and some tasty biscuits for children too. It will become a staple picnic essential for years.

Our writer said: "The basket is absolutely beautiful with enough space inside for all the food essentials you need. It comes with plates, mugs and cutlery, including a flask for hot drinks, so you don't need to worry about what you put your food on. The treats inside are delicious too, I always forget to pack food for myself and partner, so for the first picnic they're amazing to have!"

Pros

  • Long-lasting
  • Filled with delicious treats

Cons

  • It is a little heavy once full

Best traditional picnic basket for family picnic ideas

A traditional looking picnic basket, the Bekith Picnic Basket is perfect for carrying all your essentials. It has strong wicker handles for easy carrying too, and a removable gingham insert that you can wash after!

One review said: "Love this basket. Great for picnic."

Another review said: "Very nice and looks durable. Spacious. The inner lining is removable so you can wash it."

Pros

  • Removable washable insert
  • Convenient carry handles

Cons

  • Some mentioned it was more orange than brown

Best family picnic ideas fresh and save

best-family-picnic-ideas-fresh-and-save
Price: £79.95 (was £99.95)

www.zwilling.com

With a free app that calculates how long vacuum sealed food can be kept (with reminder functions too!) The Zwilling Fresh & Save Starter Set is perfect for using to store your picnic foods in the fridge the night before and pack in your picnic hamper. No more wilted fruits or salads!

Our writer said: "I love the design of the containers and loved that the bags were also reusable. I always find fruit doesn't last when going on picnics, especially in the warmth, but we found that the fruit didn't wilt! The vacuum pump is easy to use too."

Pros

  • Keeps food fresh for up to five times longer
  • Space saving
  • Lovely design

Cons

  • You might need more storage for all the picnic foods

Best family picnic ideas for lunchbox

With stainless steel utensils for little ones, the Bento Lunchbox is designed to fit small portions so your child can pick at whatever snacks you pack. It has five compartments for separating foods, and is beautifully designed and even has a practical carry handle!

Writers review: "It's really convenient having all my daughters foods in one place rather than having several different containers taking up space in the bag and a loose set of cutlery. It's super handy that the cutlery that comes with it can fit to the lid, and I'm not losing them! My daughter loves helping herself to the foods, and as the handle is on the opposite end to the close mechanism of the lunchbox, there's not accidentally catching it so that it opens!"

Pros

  • Five compartments for different foods or snacks
  • Comes with two cutlery items

Cons

  • No onsite reviews

Picnic snacks

Best family picnic ideas for kids popcorn

Made with no hard kernels, these light and crispy Organix Puffcorn crisps in strawberry and apple flavour are a real treat for little ones. They're made with no artificial colours or flavourings and are organic, making them great snacks to take on a picnic.

Writer review: the Organix strawberry and apple puffcorn didn't last two minutes in our house! Both my children really loved them and found them tasty, and my son was even happy to swap his packet of crisps for them! They're a great size for packed lunches and as snacks for on the go too.

Pros

  • Convenient for on the go
  • Delicious snack

Cons

  • Not suitable for children under 12 months

Best quiche family picnic ideas

A quiche is a signature staple to any picnic, so the Crackd Plant Based Quiche Lorraine is perfect for families, and especially ideal for vegans as it contains no eggs and no meat. It's delicious, and you can either heat it up at home, or just take it to eat cold.

One review said: "The closest you’ll ever get to a shop bought quiche without the dairy! It’s a perfect summer / lunch time meal. The Crackd egg brand are incredible. So tasty and convenient"

Pros

  • Suitable for vegans
  • Can be eaten cold

Cons

  • Some mentioned they were not fans of the onion chunks

Outdoor toys for picnics

Best family picnic ideas for bubble machines

Bubbles can provide so much entertainment for young children and a wonderful sensory experience for babies! The Bubble Mania Bubble Machine takes all the effort of bubble blowing away and creates hundreds of bubbles. The whale design is incredibly cute too.

One review said: "We've been gifted two and bought two bubble machines ourselves.. this one has definitely been the BEST! SOO many bubbles in such a short amount of time! Highly recommend"

Another review said: "This bubble machine give you bubbles.. my lounge is full within 10 minutes. Easy to fill. Baby loves all the bubble and make her giggle so it’s a 10/10 to me"

Pros

  • Bubble mix solution included
  • Extra large bubble reserviour

Cons

  • You will need to buy additional bubble mix

Best family picnic ideas for binoculars

The GeoSafari Jr.Kidnoculars are a great accessory to take on picnics for children. The chunky design makes it easy for children to hold and it's great for encouraging children to observe and become curious about their environments.

Writers review: My son absolutely loves spotting things through binoculars so to have a pair of his own, he was over the moon! He found them extremely comfortable to sit on his nose and he was able to focus more on what he was looking at as they are focus free. He loved that it came with a strap to hang around his neck. He loves spotting birds, trains and insects with them.

Pros

  • Focus free
  • Perfect fit goggles with placement guide

Best family picnic idea for mindful games

Designed to help children practise mindfulness, there's no better place than taking the Mindful Maze Garden's on a picnic! With four patterns on two boards, they're small enough to fit into a bag pocket. If your little one starts to feel some big feelings, it can help them feel a bit more in control too.

Writer review: when my son starts to feel a little bit restless, he likes to fiddle with toys and we found these mazes to help too. He's only used it to practise his breathing once, but the rest o the time he just likes tracing his finger around the mazes. It's a great little focus activity too!

Pros

  • Easy to store
  • Multisensory elements

Cons

  • It's a mindfulness game to help breathing techniques, not an actual maze game

Shelters for picnics

Best family picnic ideas for teepees

This gorgeous Linen Teepee Play Tent wouldn't just be for indoors on a sunny day, you can take it outside for your picnic to provide the perfect shelter for your little ones to play in while also shading them from the sun. It has a five pole design for extra safety when raised too.

Pros

  • Easy to assemble and store away
  • Spacious

Cons

  • It can't be left outside

Best family picnic ideas for pop-up tent

Designed to help protect against the suns UV rays, the Babymoov Anti-UV Tent features two mesh windows to allow air to flow through and is easy to take on the go. It can be folded away, and pops up easily, making it perfect to take on family picnics. It's even made from water repellent fabric, so it's handy for beach days too.

Pros

  • Light and convenient to carry
  • Helps protect against UV rays

Cons

  • No onsite reviews

Best family picnic ideas for dens

This awesome Pirate Den Kit is ideal for older children to help set up, but also great for little ones to snuggle under for a picnic. It's a great way to encourage imaginative play, and can eat their picnic snacks after exploring!

Pros

  • Den can be set up however you like
  • Easy to transport

Cons

  • No onsite reviews

Picnic extras

Best family picnic ideas for first aid kits

First aid kits are incredibly important when you have little ones, as they're always falling over and grazing their knee. With 115 items, you have everything you need in one place for burns, grazes or any accidents, the Large Family First Aid Kit is a great idea to take on a picnic, and is an essential for your picnic basket.

Writers review: I was really impressed by how much comes within this first aid kit, as the bag is a practical size that can easily fit into a changing bag or popped underneath the pram. It includes a lot of first aid items that you might not even consider too such as burn gel sachets, which is so important for during the hot weather.

Pros

  • Convenient to carry
  • Includes all the important first aid items

Cons

  • Might not need everything in the first aid kit

Best family picnic ideas for portable highchairs

best-family-picnic-ideas-booster-seat
Price: $150.80

This ultra-lightweight design means it's super easy to carry. The Chicco Pocket Snack Booster Seat can easily be stored in most strollers, so you can use it wherever you go. It has three different height adjustments and three tray positions, as well as a fully adjustable three-point harness. It folds down simply and is easy to carry.

One review said: "We bought this to see if we could eat in our garden and it was PERFECT. We now take it everywhere; to the park, on holiday, in the car, to restaurants etc. It makes feeding our nine-month-old so easy anywhere. WORTH. EVERY. PENNY."

Pros

  • Lightweight with shoulder carry strap
  • Height adjustable

Cons

  • Some mentioned you might need to add weight to the base to prevent children moving the seat

Best family picnic ideas for food coverings

The Sunflower Food Cover is perfect for taking on the go to cover up foods! It's not always practical trying to wrestle lids back over food storage, especially if you and your family want to keep picking. It's a beautiful pattern too and is easily collapsed to take on the go.

Pros

  • Keeps food protected
  • Easy to collapse

Cons

  • No onsite reviews

Best family picnic ideas pram aid

The Rockit Rocker is a little device that's going to make parent life easier, meaning your can enjoy your family picnic without having to rock the stroller! This portable Rockit attaches securely to any pram or stroller, and uses gentle motion to rock it. You can adjust the speed and it has a 60-minute cycle. It's even waterproof.

Our writer said: this was a really wonderful device that rocks the stroller really well. You do still have to push the pram if you need to add movement, but it saves your arms having to rock it while pushing, or sitting awkwardly with your foot on the pram rocking it. It was great being able to eat and have both hands free.

Pros

  • Gently rocks your pram so you can be hands free
  • Adjustable speed dial
  • Rechargeable

Cons

  • You might still have to push the pram back and forth

What are picnic idea essentials?

All you really need for a family picnic is a family sized picnic blanket and food! You can even have a mini-picnic inside your home on a rainy day, just by popping a picnic blanket on the floor.

It's also important to remember to keep food stored safely in containers and in a cool bag on hot days to make sure it stays fresh. You might also want to consider a portable highchair for young children who will be eating.

Where are some picnic ideas?

There are plenty of places you can have a picnic and depending where you plan on having one, will depend on what you need. Here are some of our favourite places to have picnics:

Garden picnics: you can have a picnic in the comfort of your own garden! This can make mealtimes more exciting for children. You can even get all their teddies outside for a cute teddy bear picnic.

Picnics at home are great for setting up shelters too. You can spend most of your day in the garden with plenty of shade from the sun for your little ones.

Park picnics: rather than just spending an hour at the park before heading home with tired little ones, take a picnic! Let them rest for a little bit and enjoy some yummy food and snacks outdoors. You can even invite some friends or family and all bring a little bit for the picnic with you.

Beach picnics: even if you're planning to buy some fish and chips, there's nothing better than sitting on a picnic blanket on the beach to eat dinner.

Samantha Ball is a Product & Lifestyle Writer for Mother&Baby and freelanced for the website for two years before joining the team full time. She's a mum of two and loves browsing for the best products and cute outfits.

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