Easy Outdoor Entertaining: Plan a Picnic Potluck

Share the work and expense of hosting a summer party by organizing a potluck in the park. Keep these 10 tips in mind.
By: Leslie Judson

Find a Venue

Take advantage of public parks. Look for one with a picnic space you can reserve, or arrive early and claim a section of grass. Ask guests to bring their own lawn chairs, or spread blankets or tablecloths for traditional picnic seating.

Coordinate the Menu

Ask friends to bring a favorite picnic food, or divide up the ingredients for a build-your-own sandwich buffet. Prepare Fun Sandwich Cutouts for the kids. Fruit Skewers are a convenient and pretty way to serve up what's in season. Make sure you have enough paper goods, drinks and ice on hand. Photo by Leslie Judson.

Don't Forget the Sweets

You can't go wrong with cupcakes. They don't require a plate or a utensil, and they're easy to serve. If you don't have time to bake, opt for store-bought treats and add your own colorful touches. This cake-topping critter came in a bag of 20 for $1. Photo by Leslie Judson.

Create a Candy Bar

Candy buffets are a crowd pleaser; this one was assembled in less than five minutes. Gather goodies and display on a tray in unbreakable containers. Include healthful alternatives such as blueberries. Photo by Leslie Judson.

Think Easy-to-Eat and Transportable

Have some food options that are good on the go. These small plastic cups were bought in bulk at a dollar-discount store and can be used to hold a variety of foods. Photo by Leslie Judson.

Plan Activities

Gather at a park with sports fields, or ask friends to bring outdoor games. Scout the location to see whether there's a good place for sidewalk chalk or a water-balloon fight -- fun activities for all ages. Photo by Leslie Judson.

Decorate the Tables

Recycle colorful cans to serve as containers, and fill with fresh flowers. Artifical arrangements can be almost as beautiful as the real thing. The trick is to buy realistic-looking flowers, cut the bunches apart and arrange single blooms in varying heights. For stability, add water to the containers and surround with rocks. Photo by Leslie Judson.

Picnic Perk: Easy Clean-Up

If you're serving messy foods such as barbecue chicken, opt for disposable or easy-to-clean tablecloths. No worries about staining carpet at this 1st birthday celebration. Photo by Leslie Judson.

Bring a Bunch of Balloons

This is a good idea, especially if your picnic is held in a large park. Balloons will help partygoers find your location while adding a splash of color to the festivities. Photo by Leslie Judson.

Don't Forget Lighting

If you anticipate that your friends will party past sundown, bring lights. Citronella candles are decorative and functional, and flashlights will come in handy. Consider investing in inexpensive paper lanterns to use at all your outdoor functions. These are battery-powered and hang from shepherds' hooks. Photo by Elizabeth Totten.

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