The Best Recipes, Hacks + Games for a No-Stress Picnic

Your guide to a breezy summer picnic.

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Summer's not quite here yet, but it's just around the corner. Where I'm located, it's warm enough that you want to be outside but not hot enough that you immediately regret it. This type of glorious weather calls for a picnic, IMO. But before you get any wild ideas about an extravagant, pack-up-the-whole-kitchen kind of ordeal, take a look at my easy, no-stress picnic guide. I've rounded up the best recipes, hacks and games for a low-key, stress-free day outside.


Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches

Rotisserie Chicken Trick

Rotisserie Chicken Trick

Need to serve your guests protein-packed sandwiches, but don’t have the time or skill set to cook something up from scratch? Pick up a rotisserie chicken from the supermarket; then pull it apart and serve it as barbecue chicken sandwiches or sliders.

This is so much easier than you'd think. Simply buy a rotisserie chicken from the supermarket and pull it apart before your picnic. Store the pulled chicken in a container, and pack it in your cooler with a bottle of barbecue sauce. Bring a package of buns, and voila! Guests can build their own sandwiches; just don't forget the napkins.

Potato Salad

Best Potato Salad

Best Potato Salad

With so many different potato salad recipes to choose from, how can you be sure you have the best potato salad? Though taste buds are subjective, it is hard to imagine anything more delicious than just the right mix of pickles, dill and the pièce de résistance.

Nothing pairs better with a barbecue sandwich than creamy, homemade potato salad. You can whip up this recipe a day in advance to make your day-of picnic prep a breeze. Tip: Prepare the vegetables and dressing separately, and combine the two an hour before the picnic for best results.

Make It: Potato Salad

Cole Slaw



Barbecue? Check. Potato salad? Check. Now there's just one major food group missing from your picnic fare: cole slaw.  Our variation is simple and quick to make ahead of time.

Make It: Cole Slaw

Cut-Up Fruits + Veggies

Offset the heavier dishes (ahem, potato salad) with an assortment of fresh, healthy fruits and veggies. Cut them up ahead of time, and store them in containers in your cooler.

Pineapple Hibiscus Punch

Make a large batch of this refreshing punch before your picnic, and bring it with you in a large pitcher. Don't forget to pack ice and cups!

No-Bake Cheesecake Parfait

Make No-Bake Cheesecake Parfaits

Make No-Bake Cheesecake Parfaits

Refrigerate until ready to serve, at least one hour.

Photo by: Daniela Lukomski

Daniela Lukomski

These make-ahead, no-bake cheesecake parfaits are the perfect picnic dessert. Made in individual jars, they pack easily in the cooler. They're also simple to make, only requiring seven common ingredients.

More Easy Food Ideas + Packing Hacks

Picnicking 101 00:58

Follow these clever ideas for packing an easy, breezy summer picnic.


Basket Hack

Picnic Items

Picnic Items

Board with picnic items, silverware and utensils stored on back of board.

Add convenient utensil storage underneath your picnic basket’s lid so guests can easily grab flatware, bottle openers or other necessities. Simply attach elastic cord to the bottom of the lid with dots of glue or staples spaced out 1/2-inch apart.

Snack Cone Hack

Mobile Vessel

Mobile Vessel

Once the paper cones are made, guests can walk around freely and keep themselves fed as they mingle.

Photo by: Flynnside Out Productions

Flynnside Out Productions

Bringing along snacks like popcorn, nuts, chips or candy? Instead of buying plastic bowls, DIY these cute, inexpensive paper cones. To make them, enlarge our free template by 50 percent, and print onto legal-size copy paper. Transfer the template onto 12x12 card stock. Cut it out, and use a craft knife to cut a slit opposite the tab. Assemble your cones, and secure them with tape.



Designer Cornhole Boards

Designer Cornhole Boards

These boards aren't quite up to official regulations but will still provide lots of good play while complementing your style. Bonus — they are a snap to make!

Photo by: Emilee Stanley Photography

Emilee Stanley Photography

If you have space for cornhole boards in your car, bring them along to set up at the picnic. Don’t have boards? Make them with our easy tutorial.

Yard Yahtzee

Yard Games for Casual Bachelor Party

Yard Games for Casual Bachelor Party

Yard games are perfect for the groom who loves a low-key shindig. Have the handiest groomsman make a set of these giant wood dice for a fun game of yard Yahtzee.

Photo by: Momtastic ; Ryan Foy

Buy or make large wooden dice, and throw them in a pail for a portable game of yard Yahtzee.

Jumbo Dominoes

Backyard Dominoes for Easy Entertaining

Backyard Dominoes for Easy Entertaining

A backyard bash isn’t complete without a competitive outdoor game. Make these oversize wood dominoes for a casual gathering to keep guests entertained for hours.

Or, if jumbo dominoes are more your style, bring them along, instead.

Classic Dominoes

10 Ways to Take Holiday Entertaining Outdoors: Games and Puzzles

10 Ways to Take Holiday Entertaining Outdoors: Games and Puzzles

Both kids and adults love to bond over games and puzzles so keep a few on hand in a cute caddy that’s easy to take outside.

Photo by: Tomas Espinoza

Tomas Espinoza

Maybe you'd rather just hang out on your picnic blanket. If so, bring classic dominoes or a deck of cards for low-key fun after you've finished eating.

Throw the Best Summer Party Ever With DIY Ideas Kids Will Love

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Follow our must-know tips for keeping everyone super cool and totally entertained.

Water Balloon Pinata

Skip the hard-to-bust candy version, and let kids cool off with loads of water balloons.

Water Gun Paint Party

Load up water guns with acrylic paints, lay out a few drop cloths, then set up an easel and canvas. Your little Picassos will love it!

Bubble Station

Everyone loves bubbles, so make sure you've got plenty of suds, bowls and wands to go around.

Big, Big Bubbles

Keep your ultimate bubble enthusiasts happy with this larger-than-life activity. All you need is extra-sudsy water, a hula hoop and a baby pool.

Get Our Homemade Bubble Recipes

Easy Party Snacks

Serve up tasty wraps with plenty of protein to avoid sugar-crash meltdowns later in the day.

Get Our Best Wrap Recipes Kids Will Love

Cool-Down Time

Whip up healthy frozen treats packed with vitamins and minerals to keep kids cool and hydrated.

Get Our Favorite Frozen Concoctions for Little Ones

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Sponge Ball Bucket Toss

If your kids love water balloons, they're sure to like this game, too. Cut up sponges into long strips, then gather the strips and secure in the middle using zip-ties or twine to create a ball. Soak the sponge balls in ice-cold water, then let the kids start playing. The one that gets the most balls into the bucket, wins!

Chilled Sponge Necklaces

These colorful, ice-cold necklaces are a perfect party favor and a fun way to keep kids chilled out all summer long.

Movie Time

When the sun sets, it's time to fire up the projector for a backyard movie night. Simple molding and a projector are all you need. This projector shelf is designed with thin chain link and eye hooks so it's easy to take down and store away when not in use.

Take 'Em To Go

Keep the fun going long after the party ends with bubble wand party favors.

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