Your Picnic Essentials List: 12 Must-Haves For A Perfect Picnic


Did you know that picnics trace back all the way to 18th century France? What started as an indoor event for the French aristocracy has become an American pastime, the perfect way to enjoy the company of family and friends during the warm summer months.

Though it seems as simple as packing a lunch and enjoying it in the park, a lot of planning goes into this summer outing! Your big question? What do I need for a summer picnic? Do we need forks and plates? What food and drinks? And what to wear? We'll make that planning a little easier. Here's our picnic packing checklist of 12 essentials for the perfect picnic.

#1: Picnic basket

Nothing says picnic like the iconic picnic basket, born to carry your meal and utensils. But why not go for something sturdy and colorful that carries your picnic blanket and other picnic accessories too? A spacious fair trade market basket from Ghana or Bangladesh offers a robust construction from natural handwoven grasses, and you'll also supporting basket weavers around the world. Handmade baskets not quite your style? A sturdy jute tote or reusable cotton bag from India is a great alternative.

#2: Picnic blanket or tablecloth

No one likes to sit on itchy or damp grass while enjoying their ham sandwich and egg salad, so remember to pack a picnic blanket! You'll want something that's good for warm weather, so cotton is a great material to look for. You'll also want something machine washable--especially if you have little ones--to make clean-up easier.

An eco-friendly Rethread Throw from India makes a great outdoor picnic blanket. Made with rewoven fabric threads, these sturdy blankets come in a variety of colors and patterns, and put a soft and dry layer between you and the ground. Want something a little more fun? A Recycled Sari Kantha Throw is the blanket for you! Hand-stitched with kantha embroidery by artisans in India, these throws are lovely, light, and great for a hot summer day. Clean up when you're finished, flip it over, and you'll have a delightful place to sit and chat or play games.

If you prefer to sit at a table, add a pop of pattern with a handmade picnic tablecloth. Our screen print or block print tablecloths come in a variety of styles and brighten up any meal while helping artisans in India earn fair wages and health benefits. Throw it in the washer after you're done, and it'll be ready for your next outing. Summer not your season? We've got handmade fall tablecloths too!


A Kantha Throw makes the perfect picnic blanket!

#3: Food

No picnic is complete without food! But typical picnic foods like potato chips can be full of artificial ingredients and unnecessary additives, so why not go a more natural route and spice things up? Make your own healthy baked potato chips seasoned with flavorful spice blends from South Africa, and you'll be supporting income for small-scale farmers and artisans near Cape Town. Or, bake delicious snickerdoodles or chocolate chip oatmeal cookies with mixes from the Women's Bean Project and help unemployed women build life skills and a vision of hope for their futures. You'll have a memorable feel-good, taste-good spread even kids will love.

Want to add even more global flavor to your picnic food? Drizzle some drops or toss some sauce on wraps or chicken salad. Our hot drops from South Africa or chili sauces from eSwatini bring on the heat with ingredients like hand-grown peppers, pineapples, garlic, apricots, and more.

Going a more refined route for your picnic menu? No-nonsense Apple Jam from eSwatini is handmade from just a few natural ingredients. It's perfect for spreading on toast or crackers and pairs perfectly with soft and creamy brie and crispy French baguettes. Or, dip sliced French bread in some fairly traded organic extra virgin olive oil with za'atar seasoning from Israel for an extra-special picnic.

#4: Food storage

In transporting your picnic food safely and securely from kitchen to picnic destination, pack your treats in reusable containers to save on plastic bags, or wrap your sandwiches in reusable beeswax food wrap. Bringing fruit? Consider reusable Sari Pouches! Colorful and easy to clean, your cherries, grapes and strawberries will be safely contained in these handmade eco-friendly bags. They're also great for storing baked goods and other small picnic packing list essentials.

#5 Eating & Serving Utensils

Nothing is worse than opening the pasta salad and realizing you have nothing to eat it with. Avoid this picnic disaster by packing reusable utensils! Our handmade Reusable Utensils Set from Vietnam ensures you'll always have a fork, knife, spoon & straw at hand. For serving, lightweight bamboo utensils will skip the need for plastic spoons while still being easy to clean. You'll be helping global artisans too-- what could be better than that?

Planning a French charcuterie board for your perfect summer picnic? Don't forget to bring along a set of handcrafted cheese knives and an acacia wood cutting board. You certainly don't want to be slicing fancy cheeses with a credit card!


Turn up the fancy for any picnic with handcrafted cheese knives and onyx serving pieces.


#6: Plates

Next on your picnic checklist: plates! No one likes having to balance sandwiches, chips, fruit salad, and drinks while trying to find a place to sit AND not trip over the dog. Our Acacia Wood Oblong Plates from Indonesia will add a little joie de vivre to your picnic plan, or you can use compostable paper plates for easy clean-up.

#7: Napkins

For the picnic spills that are sure to happen, go eco-friendly with 100% cotton block or screen printed napkins from India. We personally love the wood block print Kallada Napkins for their fun colors and playful patterns inspired by traditional Indian motifs (both kids and adults will love them!). If you're one to match, coordinate your napkins with a block print tablecloth, also handmade in India by artisans in Mumbai who receive healthcare and education opportunities through fair trade.

#8: Beverage Supplies

Whether drinking soda, pink lemonade or iced fair trade tea at your picnic, you'll want to make sure you have something to serve your drinks in! Our reusable glass Tropical Punch Collection brings bold summer color and will take your outdoor picnic spread up a notch! If water is your drink of choice, skip the 64-pack of plastic water bottles by bringing with BPA and PET-free reusable water bottles.

If beer or wine is on the list, remember the bottle opener, corkscrew, and wine stopper. To picnic like the French, add crystal goblets or a set of fair trade wine glasses with a bottle of champagne! And for a sturdy place to put your tumbler or stemware down, bring along handmade mango wood coasters.


Handmade glassware is perfect for any picnic!


#9: Cleanup Supplies

You'll be grateful to have something along to clean up any spills on your table, blanket, or yourself! Why not skip the paper towels and try our popular Kantha Dish Towels? No two are alike, and these recycled 100% cotton towels are soft and absorbent. They also help artisans in India receive fair wages for their work.

As the saying goes, "Take only pictures, leave only footprints." If your picnicking place doesn't have garbage receptacles, our reusable, colorful, and washable Recycled Sari Totes will ensure you don't leave any plastic or waste behind. Plus, they fold up to a convenient compact size when not being used.

#10: Bug Repellent

Don't let mosquitos, gnats, chiggers, and other pesky bugs get the better of you or your picnic. Make sure you pack bug repellent! Whether that's a DEET-free bug spray or a natural citronella candle from Bangladesh, you'll want to have get your bug defenses out as soon as you get to your picnic site. If applying spray, do it away from food and open flame.

#11: Sun Protection

Summer is the sunniest season of the year, but nothing ruins a picnic like sunburned shoulders! Don't forget a wide-brimmed hat with your sunglasses. A lightweight, hand-dyed fabric kimono is also ideal to cover your back and shoulders, and adds warmth if the weather turns cool. For any other exposed skin, wear high-SPF sunscreen (at least 30 SPF) and reapply every 2 hours. Make sure you look for broad-spectrum sunscreen--it'll protect you from UVA and UVB rays and keep your skin looking healthy. You can also bring an umbrella to sit under. To avoid the biggest chance of sunburn, try to avoid direct sun from 12-2 PM.


Sustainable serveware and clean-up options make your picnic eco-friendly.


#12: Entertainment

If you're looking for something to do after eating, you've got lots of options for fun picnic games and activities! Footballs, baseballs, and Frisbees are fun to toss around for the active picnicker, but you can never go wrong with a good book! Or exercise your brain with mind-bending, sustainable and hand-carved shesham wood puzzles and mazes. Want to play a game with a friend? Tabletop Tic-Tac-Toe is fun and easy, and you can make a difference for wood carving artisans in India. Everyone wins!

Did we leave something off the picnic checklist? Want to share photos of your fair trade picnic? Email us at

Learn more about fair trade here.

Tags:   Eco-Friendly   Fair Trade  

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