Fresh air, good food, even better friends—yep, there’s nothing like an easy breezy picnic. Alas, the weather doesn’t always cooperate and, let’s be honest, a stuffy dinner party just isn’t the same. Well, friends, we found a novel solution to the ‘it’s raining outside and I want to picnic’ problem: Just recreate a classic alfresco meal inside the comfort of your own home. Here, 10 indoor picnic ideas to help you pull off the perfect event.
1. Set the scene
When it comes to the definition of a picnic, any indoor event is already pushing the limits, but we’re all for breaking boundaries. That said, an indoor picnic in your dining room is a bridge too far. If you want to make this shindig legit, we suggest setting up in a room you wouldn’t ordinarily chow down and decking the space out with plenty of indoor plants and fresh flowers to recreate an authentic picnic vibe. Bonus points if you open up the windows for fresh air (even if it means you have to blast the heat) and tune into a playlist of nature sounds.
2. Consider lighting
Natural light is another feature of a typical picnic and will do a lot to help set the mood. Plus, good natural light also goes a long way towards ensuring your indoor picnic is Insta-worthy. With that in mind, be sure to throw back the curtains (or raise the blinds, what have you) and set up your picnic in the sunniest spot of your home. In other words, let there be light!
3. Make it comfy
One of the major benefits of an indoor picnic is that you can skip the grass stains and opt for an extra cushy seating arrangement instead. Generously-sized floor pillows are an excellent way to provide maximum comfort for your guests—so, by all means, strip your couch of its cushions and steal some throw pillows from your bed as a no-cost way of accomplishing this goal.
4. Pick a theme
Although optional, a theme does considerably up the novelty factor of your indoor picnic, whilst transporting your guests to a completely different place (you know, so they don’t wonder why you aren’t just eating at the dining table and calling it lunch.) English tea party, Hawaiian luau or any other creative idea you can conjure up—a theme will only improve your indoor picnic.
5. Serve finger foods
In general, picnics are carefree and unfussy meals—just wash some fruit, slap together a sandwich and head out the door with picnic basket in hand. Although the menu options increase significantly when you take a picnic indoors, it still makes sense to maintain that laidback spirit by serving an assortment of finger foods. (Hint: You’ll be grateful when it comes time to clean up, too.) We’re fans of cheese plates, crudité platters, chips and dip, tea sandwiches and deviled eggs at indoor picnics, to name a few, but really we’ve never met a finger food we didn’t like.
6. Or heartier make-ahead fare
If finger foods aren’t your style, don your top chef hat, tap into your inner Julia Child and turn your indoor picnic into a proper multi-course feast. Just be sure to maintain the illusion of a fuss-free meal (and avoid spending the whole event in the kitchen) by serving dishes that can be made in advance and easily reheated.
7. Opt for a potluck
A potluck-style meal is yet another option to consider, and a decidedly stress-free one at that. Have guests sign up to bring something to the picnic so that everyone can enjoy a diverse sampling of tasty foods without the host having to break the bank (or her back in the kitchen).
8. Whip up a big batch of drinks
By all means, serve some booze at your indoor picnic…but whatever you do, don’t get stuck cracking ice cubes and shaving dainty lemon-zest twists for every guest who wants a cocktail. Instead, make a big batch of drinks—negronis, mimosas, sangria—and set the pitcher out wherever the picnic is taking place so folks can re-up without asking.
9. Serve dessert
Be sure to satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth before you send ‘em home by whipping up a make-ahead dessert. Fancy single-serving desserts will impress your guests, but lemon bars and homemade cookies are always welcome, too. You can even phone it in with a quality candy bar. (We promise no one will complain.)
10. Plan an activity
There’s nothing wrong with an unstructured eat-and-chat picnic, but why not add some entertainment into the mix with a planned activity? Bust out a board game, bring a deck of cards or break the ice with a round of two truths and a lie; no matter which direction you go, a party game of one kind or another is a recipe for picnicking success.