While the days of picnicking on the beach may be finished for the year, that doesn’t mean you should give up on the concept altogether. Sunday afternoon football, impromptu games nights, a romantic evening for two…all great ways to take shelter from the chill and all perfect for an indoor picnic. From decor inspiration to the clever menu tips, read on for our how-to guide to planning the perfect indoor picnic.
Set The Mood
Sure, you could have your indoor picnic in your living room as is, but where’s the fun in that? One of the best parts about indoor picnics is the departure from everyday routine. In order to prepare for your feast, clear out enough floor space to accommodate your guests. Push aside furniture and spread out cozy blankets and pillows, making the area warm and inviting. Anticipate that not everyone will want to break bread on the floor so add a few creative seating options, like the Exuma ottoman, to create a cozy yet unconventional spot to enjoy your meal.
Plan Your Menu
Because of your picnic location’s close proximity to the kitchen, you can afford to get a little more creative with your menu than you would if you were lugging all your food and gear on a hike or to the beach. To make things special, consider establishing a theme and planning your menu in accordance. Getting the old gang together to watch your alma mater duke it out with their rival on a Saturday afternoon? Try serving classic stadium foods with a twist. Sliders with gourmet toppings, sweet potato fries, and carefully crafted cocktails (mocktails work well too) are all great options. Since you have the luxury of being able to use cutlery, you can get a little fancy with your offerings. But sometimes, simple can be just as wonderful and there really is something to be said about eating with your hands.
Consider the Details
It’s often the little things that end up making the biggest impact. Something as easy as a couple of jars of fresh cut flowers or some strategically placed mood lighting can make all the difference when it comes to creating the ultimate indoor picnic ambiance. For dinner on a cool evening, light the fireplace (if you’ve got one) and set up shop close enough to be able to enjoy its warmth. Don’t have a glowing hearth to snuggle up by? Try clustering candles to create a similar glow. Just be sure to keep them at a safe distance to avoid any mid-meal disasters.
Keep it Simple
The last thing any host wants to do is spend the bulk of their time dealing with food preparation or cleaning. To make your indoor picnic something that everyone enjoys, opt to simplify things so that you have the time to enjoy your food and guests. There’s a reason paper plates and easy foods are so popular on picnics- they work! Pick up some recyclable dishes to use for serving and eating and consider preparing foods that don’t take much effort. Pre-cut fruits and veggies, easy to assemble salads, charcuterie platters, and cheese plates are all great options that are as simple as they are delicious. When it’s all over, clean up will be a breeze and the only thing you’ll have to worry about is whether there are any leftovers to snack on.
Make It A Potluck
Gathering a group of friends together to share a meal is one of the best ways to usher in the cooler weather. It also doesn’t get much easier than having every guest bring a favorite dish. When planning your indoor potluck picnic, send out a sign up sheet to ensure that you don’t find yourself with 4 salads but no mains. Once you’ve established who’s bringing what, prepare your space accordingly. Set up the offerings buffet style and let guests load their plates before settling onto the floor for a cozy meal amongst loved ones.
Part of the fun of an indoor picnic is adding some unexpected touches to the experience. To make the meal one to remember, try infusing a little festive flare into whatever you choose to do. Planning your meal around a games night? Have guests come dressed in their chosen game piece’s color. Watching a movie while you eat? Serve foods that suit the film’s theme. Hosting a group of kids (or just the young at heart)? Consider creating a hot chocolate bar, a candy table, or just add some balloons to the room to make everything just a touch more special.