As we sit on our checkered blankets surrounded by sun-soaked grass, we carefully arrange our dishes full of cracker and cheese assortments and pop open bottles of sparkling lemonade.
Just like us, many people are making the most of the beauty of springtime after the cold, quarantined months, as seen with the recent increase of many picnic-goers posting about their experiences through social media platforms such as TikTok and Instagram. On TikTok, for instance, #picnicaesthetic has garnered 32.9 million views, and shows off an endless array of picnics that people have posted on the app.
Although traditional picnics aren’t always distanced, they can be easily adapted to fit our current circumstances by having everyone bring individual blankets to sit on. We also recommend ensuring safety bringing individual utensils, hand sanitizer and possibly individually packaged foods in order to follow guidelines from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Overall, picnics allow for flexibility and creativity in the locations, food choices and layout, providing an excellent way for us to safely see friends. For those looking for inspiration or guidance for their own picnics — look no further.
Step 1: Pick a splendid spot
An ideal picnic location is one out in the fresh air, surrounded by greenery. Luckily, Palo Alto offers many local parks to choose from.
A staple location is Mitchell Park, which is located near Jane Lathrop Stanford Middle School and Mitchell Park Library. This park offers spacious fields perfect for distancing, and is conveniently stationed near Ada’s Cafe and Peet’s Coffee, making it easy to purchase last-minute food for a picnic.
Mitchell Park is also a perfect place for those who enjoy a lively environment. On the weekends, children frolic across the grass or play with friends as their parents relax in the shade.
“I know a lot of people have a lot of artistic expression in plating food and … I’m able to get that through charcuterie … it’s just a really fun hobby for me to also express my artistic abilities.”
—Kimi Lillios, senior
Another one of our go-to locations for picnics is Foothills Nature Preserve, thanks to its trails and easy-to-reach viewpoints that show off the Bay Area skyline. A favorite picnic site of ours is the dock on the lake, where we can relax by the water as ducks swim by.
Our final recommendation for a picnic venue is Kite Hill, located in a neighborhood near Stanford University. While it is significantly smaller than the other two locations, the park is serene, with sufficient space to set up a blanket and enjoy the beautiful view.
Step 2: Prepare your basket
When we pack the perfect picnic basket, we think of food that can easily be laid out on the picnic blanket. Some ideas include sushi, sandwiches or fruits.
However, if you’re in the mood for something sweeter, why not bring a cake? A cake is a delicious dessert no matter the occasion, and you can enjoy it on a plate — or our favorite way, in a wine glass.
Another one of our favorite picnic dishes is a charcuterie board, which consists of a variety of cold-cut meats, cheeses and fruits arranged in an aesthetically pleasing design. Since she came across charcuterie boards on social media in December, senior Kimi Lillios has been practicing and perfecting her board making skills.
“I know a lot of people have a lot of artistic expression in plating food and … I’m able to get that through charcuterie,” Lillios said. “It’s just a really fun hobby for me to also express my artistic abilities.”
When putting together a charcuterie board, Lillios does not have a specific process. For aesthetically-pleasing arrangements, she focuses on ensuring there is enough color and contrast amongst the food on the board.
For those looking to create their own charcuterie board, one can never go wrong with cured meats — such as salami and prosciutto — and cheeses. Lillios recommends brie, iberico and cotswold as solid cheeses to build a board around, and though she can’t choose a favorite cheese, she loves the Boursin garlic and herbs gournay from Trader Joe’s. Finally, Lillios advises adding plenty of fruit, which balances out the flavors and saltiness of the meats and cheeses.
Lillios encourages others to try out charcuterie board making, which is a relatively simple and creative activity that can be done with friends and family.
Step 3: Take aesthetic photos
Whether it’s snapping a picture while sipping a sweet, refreshing drink or posing in your favorite outfit while laying on a checkered blanket, documenting your experience is one of the best parts of getting together with your friends for a picnic.
For the most aesthetically pleasing shots, we typically prefer to use ceramic plates and dishes with natural colors and graceful designs to bring a sense of elegance to the picnic spread.
Step 4: Enjoy your hard work!
Now that you have planned your picnic, it’s time to indulge. While we sipped our drinks, layered cheeses and meats on crackers, and munched on chips, the light, spring air was filled with our conversations and laughter. With longer days and warmer weather approaching, you too may find that a picnic is the perfect activity to enjoy with friends.