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How to simplify picnics in the park this summer

Stock up on these essential picnic items and follow CDC safety tips before you head out to the park, rooftop or backyard for summer fun outdoors.
Couple on picnic wearing face masks with their cat. Shop picnic essentials for a day in the park, backyard or roof, including a picnic basket, face mask, hand sanitizer, sunscreen and more.
Shop essential items for a fun and safe picnic at the park or beach. CasarsaGuru / Getty Images

A picnic is a great way to spend socially-distant time with friends outdoors. While the weather is still nice, spread out a blanket at a park or in someone’s backyard and follow CDC guidance regarding outdoor activities to ensure a safe experience for all who attend.

  • Sit six feet away from those who don’t live in your household.
  • Avoid sharing items like serving utensils, beverage containers and condiment bottles.
  • Picnic buddies, friends and guests should bring their own food, drinks and utensils.
  • Make sure you wear a face mask as often as possible.

Because seeing friends and family requires a bit more planning these days, we compiled some picnic products you might want to have on hand before you host (or attend) a socially distant picnic. Of course, consider bringing disposable plates and utensils (unless you can carry home reusable ones) for an easy clean up, and avoid hosting your picnic in a crowded place.

1. Extra-Large Sand Free Beach Blanket

This highly-rated and waterproof blanket measures about seven feet in length and is about nine feet wide, giving you plenty of room to spread out food and drinks. It also helps you socially distance from friends — your friends can sit on opposite sides on the blanket so you’re close enough to talk while still keeping space between you. The blanket, which holds a 4.3-average rating from more than 600 reviews on Amazon, folds easily and can be stored in the attached bag, so it’s more convenient to travel with.

2. Irwin Marking Flags

If you haven’t seen your friends for awhile , you won’t want to waste precious time figuring out exactly where everyone needs to be set up. Instead, get there a bit early with your tape measure and use marking flags to let everyone know where their blankets should be. It’s practical, polite and ensures your picnic spot is staked out before everyone arrives.

3. Every Man Jack Hand Sanitizer, Fragrance Free

Hand sanitizer is an important accessory during a pandemic, allowing you to clean off your hands after you touch surfaces and before you eat. If you don’t want your hands to smell “Lemon Fresh” or “Aloe Cool,” opt for a fragrance-free hand sanitizer. This hand sanitizer is paraben- and dye-free, made with naturally derived and plant-based ingredients that are less likely to irritate your hands after multiple uses.

4. LANOUOGGK-Picnic Basket

This insulated picnic basket is great for transporting BBQ meat, snacks and cold drinks. It's lightweight, foldable and waterproof, which can prove useful if you encounter some light rain. While this black model features a sleek design, it also comes in colorful stripes. If you're looking for a more affordable option, consider this highly-rated BlueMake Woven Basket for $16.

5. IceMule Pro Cooler

To help carry everything over your shoulder, a cooler backpack gives you the convenience of keeping your hands free and the function of cold drinks. This 23-liter option from IceMule is the brand's entry-level size. If you need more room, it also comes in a 33-liter size and 40-liter size. Plus, it comes in a variety of colors including Olive, Matte Black, Camo and Tan Brown.

6. Coleman Kickback Breeze Chair

If you prefer not to sit on the ground during your picnics, you may want to consider this blue folding lawn chair from Coleman. At only 26 inches tall, this chair is low enough to the ground to keep you as part of the group picnic. And while it's lightweight and portable, it can hold up to 250 pounds. Additionally, it features a mesh backing which allows the breeze through to your back during particularly hot days.

7. Everlane 100% Human Face Mask (Pre-Order, Ships Aug. 19)

While you won’t wear a face mask while eating, you should have one on-hand to wear while walking to your picnic spot or back to your car. These reusable cloth masks from Everlane come in a pack of five. They’re made from a double-layer knit fabric and have cotton-Lycra ear loops that offer stretch and comfort. The masks come in a variety of colors, from Tie Dye to Black and Grey. For each face mask sold, Everlane donates 10 percent of sales to the ACLU.

8. Heinz Glass Condiment Miniatures

Normally, you’d probably pass around condiments to share at a picnic. Now, everyone should have their own individual items, reducing the amount of items multiple people touch. Buy small bottles of mayo, mustard, ketchup and even an assortment of hot sauce packets for you and your friends. Any extras can be saved for a future socially distant barbecue.

9. Disposable PE Plastic Gloves

Bring food-safe gloves to wear while handling anything that’s shared, like food, utensils and other supplies These come in a pack of 500 and can be used on both the right and left hand. They’re BPA-free and are designed to fit any size hands.

10. Corkcicle Classic Stemless Glass

These stemless, triple-insulated glasses will keep your beverage cool for over nine hours or hot for about three hours. They can hold 12 ounces of any beverage and come with a shatter-proof lid that’s designed with increased durability. Fill the glasses with wine, beer or soda before you head to your picnic, and it will still be the perfect temperature when you arrive.

11. Bamboo Charcuterie Platter & Knife Set

Communal cheese boards aren’t a good idea these days, but that doesn’t mean you have to forego a snacking spread altogether. This bamboo board comes with a hidden tool tray that equips four carving knives and food-safe soapstone chalk to write directly on the board — to identify cheeses, for example. It also features a recessed moat along the edge to hold nuts, berries and other smaller food items.

12. Tub O' Towels Multi-Surface Sanitizing Wipes

Even if you’re not sharing food and supplies with your friends, consider bringing these sanitizing wipes to your picnic. Wipe off the utensils after they’re used or clean off the handles of your picnic basket — in a pinch, use them to wipe down your own hands.

13. Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Sunscreen Lotion

While outdoors, protect your skin with this broad spectrum sunscreen. It’s made from an oil-free formula that won’t leave skin feeling greasy when applied, and it’s water-resistant for up to 80 minutes. This sunscreen is also non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t clog pores.

14. Cutter Skinsations Insect Repellent Pump Spray

Help reduce the amount of bugs swarming around your picnic by applying insect repellent to your skin, clothes and even blanket. This spray contains aloe and vitamin E, which softens skin, and it has a seven percent DEET formula to repel mosquitos. The bottle features a cap — you can throw it in your bag without worrying about leaks — and its 360 degree pump allows you to spray at any angle, as well as upside down.

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