how to plan a fancy picnic
Havana from Picnic Styling Co shares some tips for outdoor merrymaking.
With big indoor shindigs off the cards this year, heading out for a celebratory picnic has never felt more special. Nothing beats chatting and snacking with pals out in the sunshine, whether you’re lazing about at the park or chilling in your own backyard. If you’re looking to fancy up the al fresco experience this summer, keep scrolling. Havana Tan from Melbourne’s Picnic Styling Co specialises in setting up elaborate picnics in any location, and she has some expert advice below. Hi Havana! What's your top tip for planning a fancy picnic? It’s simple: start by developing a clear vision and aesthetic. What's the occasion? What type of mood do you want to set? Draw on colours, places or foods you love (e.g. commemorate your cancelled Europe trip with a Mediterranean-style dinner). Pinterest will be your best friend when gathering inspiration (and you might like to check out our pics @picnicstylingco, too).
Let's talk about furniture. What pieces are essential? If we're talking fancy picnics here, it's essential to have rugs, cushions and a table or similar platform for place settings and decor. Even if you're skipping formal place settings and opting for a more relaxed grazing style event, a table will serve as a focal point and will make your picnic feel that little bit more special.
What else do you need to keep guests comfy? Load up on cushions! Ottomans are great, too. If it's a cooler day, provide some blankets to keep your guests warm. If it's the peak of summer, provide lots of bottled water and some handheld fans or cute umbrellas to keep everyone cool.What kind of styling details make a big impact? Statement floral arrangements are by far my favourite form of decor. They can completely transform the look and feel of any event. Lighting is another favourite – if your picnic will run into the night, set the mood by lighting some taper candles along the table or draping some overhead fairy lights above the table setting.
How can you source picnic essentials without breaking the bank? Start with what's around the house. Look for blankets, bed sheets, throws – anything you can layer together to form one large makeshift picnic rug. You could always use recycled timber pallets for a low picnic table, too. These are often cheap to grab off Gumtree, and if you're lucky you might find someone giving them away for free. Think outside the box and try to avoid spending too much on anything heavily themed that you're unlikely to keep or use beyond the one occasion.
What's your favourite place to have a picnic? If you can, definitely opt for a backyard picnic. You have complete freedom to go all-out with the styling and decor when it's your own home, and you save yourself the trouble of transporting any furniture to and from another location. You don't need to worry about permits and there are no set restrictions around guest numbers or alcohol consumption. If a backyard isn't an option, we're lucky to have an abundance of beautiful parks to choose from. Just remember to check the local council website for information on whether a permit is required (e.g. when there are more than a certain number of guests attending).
What are your favourite picnic foods? I love anything fresh and light that you can just keep reaching for. Antipasto platters are great, as well as summery fruits like watermelon and mango. I would avoid anything that could go soggy quickly.
Any final words of wisdom? I definitely recommend having a wet-weather plan. There's nothing worse than having weather anxiety in the lead up to an outdoor event, so it helps to have a marquee on hand or a backup undercover location.