Is it too early to pull out the picnic basket? I think not.
I find it so refreshing to go to the stores in our area this time of year and be able to shop for sand toys, picnic supplies, swimwear, etc. Even though it’s -10F outside and feels like we’re never going to see the grass peek through the frozen ground, it IS just around the corner! Why not lift those winter blues and go buy yourself something for summer? I did.
A quick visit to Walmart for milk today turned into a shopping cart of sand toys, bubbles, and summer sandals for our daughter. We plan to make several trips down to Sylvan Lake this summer and enjoy picnics on the beach, so it was hard not to take advantage of the clearance racks. Many retailers offer clearance sales on summer products at this time leftover from the year prior. Along with many other great deals, we came home with three pairs of summer shoes for her, all for less than $20!
Last year our little girl was barely walking, whereas this year she will be turning two in July and running! Needless to say, appropriate footwear is a must this summer. And since we mostly picnic at the lake, we picked up a pair of water shoes for her that will be great for this occasion. Family picnics can be a blast if you are well prepared and a disaster waiting to happen if you’re not. From proper apparel to ‘picnic friendly’ food, there is a lot for a parent to consider. Here are some picnic ideas to think about now, while there are great deals at your local stores:
1. Apparel for your toddler – If you plan to picnic near water and expect your kids to want to play on the beach, there are a few apparel options to consider. Water shoes are perfect for your active toddler. There’s no telling what they’ll be stepping on under the sand and these shoes will protect their little feet from any sharp objects. In addition, these shoes are great to have for traction while swimming at the local pool. SPF Swimwear is another great piece of apparel to consider investing in for this summer. Not only do these suits provide extra protection from harmful UV rays, they also help to keep your child warm after jumping in the water. Headwear is another must. If your child will allow you to put a hat on them, it’s great to keep their heads covered. Sunburn on the scalp is not a fun consequence to deal with. If they refuse to keep a hat on, lather their little heads with sunblock of course.
2. Supplies – You’ll need the obvious necessities such as plates, utensils (consider paper and plastic as not to lose any of your valuable kitchenware from home), and napkins for your picnic. One thing that I couldn’t live without when picnicking, is a good thermal tote or soft cooler. I have a couple, but the one I really enjoy for picnicking and even grocery shopping or carrying a dish to a potluck, is from Rachael Ray. You can find her products all over the internet and I believe mine came from QVC.com, but check out all the food totes she has available on her website www.rachaelraystore.com. One last important supply you DON’T want to forget is a blanket to sit on.
3. Activities and Toys – You will also want to consider activities for the kiddos. Think about the area that you will be picnicking; will there be a playground? Will there be a beach? If you’ll be near water, Buckets and Sand Toys are great and super cheap! You can find great deals in Sylvan Lake at the Dollarama and Walmart, just to name a few. Water Toys and Floats are fun for the beach too. You may consider some arm floats or a suit with floats built in for your child, should you plan on swimming.
4. Food of course! So many options here. If you have a busy toddler like myself, you’ll want to consider foods that can be mobile while being consumed. Without being in the comfort of their home, buckled into a booster seat at the table, they may be anxious to get back to playing in the sand or maybe they just want to stand next to the blanket and snack. Either way, you want finger foods that they can eat on the go. You don’t want to be cleaning noodles from a pasta dish off the grass and blanket for example. Here are a few kid-friendly foods that are great for picnics:
– Peanut butter and jelly sandwich (use a cookie cutter and make them a fun shape for the fun occasion!)
– Hot Dogs (with or without the bun)
– Lunch meat sandwich
– Pizza (super easy to pre-make at home and always popular with kids — use a hoagie roll cut in half, a sliced pita bread or english muffin for the base)
– Grapes, sliced apples, pineapple, banana slices
– String cheese or sliced cheese
– Muffins, cookies, or granola bar for dessert
5. And last, but not least…Always remember SUNBLOCK!
Well if you’re like me, you’ll read this and start craving sunshine immediately! When there’s no sun, it’s nice to know you can at least go to a warm store or mall somewhere now and find summer products to give you some hope and reassurance that Spring is just around the corner. Why wait? Start planning for your spring picnic now.