Hey there! Hope all is well. Today, please hang out for a spell with my closest friends and me. I am a huge celebrator of all things and will make an event out of anything. Unfortunately, with the global pandemic we have been dealing with for most of 2020, I have been very cautious about who comes to my home. I also rarely get out to do things that are not mandatory for me.
My bestie and I had been talking about having a “fancy picnic” for most of the summer. I even mentioned including some other lady friends of mine. However, we continued to procrastinate with the plans until summer passed us by. As the seasons changed and cooler weather started sporadically coming in, we decided to get our vision together. She agreed on having more guests than just the two of us. The cold weather changed our idea to be more dressy, but everyone intended to dress warm, and we pushed forward with the planning process.
Thank goodness my bestie is crafty and just as extra as me! I gave her my ideas, and she ran with them. She created the digital invite for me to send out, then we went to work from there. I went into my typical “event planner” mode. I created a list of ideas, and I started a Pinterest board of other ladies’ picnics for inspiration (mostly food). I knew I wanted a small bites menu, but I didn’t know the specific foods we would have since I’m not your average cook. As usual, I found some great ideas to add to my board and then made them my own.
My friend is much better at using her Cricut than I am, so of course, I solicited her help for all of the stationary and labels. It’s funny that she created a menu mockup before I gave her the full menu, but it’s like we were telekinetic, making things happen through thought-transmission. Every item she named was perfectly aligned with my ideas. Since I am an event planner on the side, I knew I probably had enough inventory, not to mention items around my home that I could use for the setup. I was 100% correct!
I’m a visual person, which means I have to physically see the layout, or at least the idea, before the actual day. I had some pallets leftover from a grass order that we kept in the garage for a future outdoor project. I knew that I wanted to use those as the idea for the table. I then pulled out an old blanket large enough to place the pallet on and still allow room for seating. Ideas started racing in my head, and I went back and forth, up and down the stairs, like Miss Celie from The Color Purple, getting items from my storage room. Because the original plan was to have a fancy picnic, I wanted to ensure that things weren’t average. I chose some cool placemats to start with, then added a layer of chargers. I knew I would top that off with a glass plate that I kept put away for special occasions and holiday setups.
My friend helped me finalize the starters for the menu. Everyone would begin with bread and spreads, so the charcuterie board would finish the overall place setting design. I also planned to make each guest, including myself, an acrylic place card. These would mark everyone’s seating area. Unfortunately, I did not get this done. I’ll explain later. I went to my garage to pull out some centerpieces from a past wedding that I knew would be perfect for our fall-inspired picnic. They spruced up the pallet so nicely. Then I added several autumn pieces I’d picked up from Dollar Tree that I never used to decorate around the house. Everything was coming together so nicely. I had a good enough visual of the eating area, so I moved on to create ideas for the food table.
Because of the pandemic, I wanted to keep this event fun but as SAFE as possible. With that in mind, instead of a buffet-style food table, I created a way for everything to be individually packaged and set up separately. Every food item was in its own container or serving dish so that each guest could grab and go. Everything was in small bites, so that made it even easier to prepare and set out.
Prepping and Execution:
Although I was the host of the event, everyone played a part in making sure my vision was fulfilled. Besides everything else I mentioned that my bestie created, she also purchased the charcuterie boards. She dressed them up with jute twine and finished them off with a decorative leaf. The plan was to put everyone’s name on the board’s handle, but the vinyl would not stick. Since I had run out of time to make the place cards, her work did not go in vain. We used the names she had cut out and placed them on the acrylic place cards.
Another friend purchased the loaves of bread and spreads, and she was a great help for getting everything put out and cleaned up. One of my other friends is a fantastic cook, so I asked her to prepare a delicious soup she shared with me last year. Like always, she came through with the culinary skills, and the soup was absolutely amazing!
Keeping with being safe, we didn’t play any games that required moving from our spaces. We took a couple of pics as a group, but most of the time, we stayed in our assigned seating until time to pack up and leave.
I wanted everyone to have a picnic basket to-go as a thank you gift. The baskets were set out on a table, already pre-packaged with a few goodies. We had placed a candle, decorated candle holder, a bag of chips, instructions for cleaning the boards, and a couple of bread bags. There was also a twist-tie, decorative bow, and plastic basket cover to close everything inside. As part of the event, everyone added their final items to take home. That included the charcuterie board, place card, individual containers of jam and garlic butter spread, to-go guacamole, fruit, pie in a jar, and creamy tomato soup. Everyone enjoyed the idea of making their own to-go basket.
We all had a great time, and I cannot wait to do it again! Hopefully, things will be much better next year, and I can invite even more friends and family to hang out with us.
Take temperatures (Hey, we are all about safety)!
Meet and greet
- Give your name, tell something about your family, how you met Toni and how long you’ve known her
- Two Truths and a Lie
- Go around the group and have each person say three things about themselves: two things that are true and one that is a lie. Then, the rest of the group has to guess which ones are the truth, and which is the lie.
Group pics with my tripod
Share something you’re thankful for
Make to-go baskets
Until next time, I’ll leave you with this. Don’t forget to spend time with the ones you love. Most times, those not kin to us are still like family. We never know when our time here is over, so make the best of every moment you can have with your family and friends. Also, please don’t get caught up with how we put this together. Anyone can use this picnic idea during any season. It can be as casual and simple as possible, and it can take place indoors or outdoors. That’s left up to you and your girlfriends! Some people don’t like the outdoors or don’t want to be out in specific seasons (especially the cold or the heat). Either way, plan something, no matter how big or small, and have fun doing it. Has this event inspired you in any way to do something with your close friends or family members this season? If so, please share it in the comments.