willowbrook farm

historic yellow springs

The Summer Picnic

Inspired by this rattan picnic basket that I purchased years ago and have never used, along with a visit from our daughter and her newly acquired rescue puppy Auggie…we just had to style a summer picnic! Upon embarking on this activity, we found that it was much easier than it looked and I wanted to share some of the ideas that we used on that lovely late afternoon earlier this summer.

To make and style your own Summer or upcoming Fall picnic, there are a few elements that are important to consider.

The most important is “What are you going to eat?” –¬†hint, scroll to the bottom of this post for two of my favorite sandwich recipes…

and the second is “How are you going to package it up to be portable?”

When it comes to packaging, I LOVE wax paper and parchment paper along with bakery twine for packing up sandwiches. Together, they keep the ingredients in the sandwich that might otherwise leak out… and they look pretty!

When wrapped around the sandwich, they make it highly portable and you can even tuck in compostable silverware and a napkin into your portable little package. We served our boxed lunches that we’d created for the Yellow Springs Art Show luncheon in this fashion. You can change out the color of your bakers twine to what you love… I am partial to blue… if you didn’t know that.

Now that you have packaged up your sandwiches, if that is something that you have chosen to be on your menu, you most likely will want to serve a side dish or two.

Ball jars always make for fabulous portable serving containers that are environmentally friendly, which is something that we are ever concerned about. 4 oz Mason jars are perfect for salad dressings, sauces and the likes and the larger 8 oz jars can hold a nice portion of a side salad.

Of course, you can package your salads up in plastic serving containers but they don’t look as pretty and we are reducing our plastic usage. If you do choose to use them, you can always wash them out and use again for your next picnic, or recycle them.

If you, like us, are looking for more environmentally friendly packaging options, Bio & Chic has a fabulous assortment of eco-friendly tableware, like these mini glass jars and these plates made from palm leaves.

Another option that I love for packaging food that looks pretty and is better for the environment are these recyclable brown food containers. They come in a variety of sizes. You can either eat right from the box or empty the contents onto a plate and eat from there.

Of course a picnic would not be complete if it did not have a sweet ending… so here we served yummy but simple fruit parfaits by layering crumbled lemon pound cake with fresh blueberries, raspberries and peaches along with layers of Trader Joe’s coconut whipped cream in vintage jelly jars that we carry in the barn.

Have you tried the coconut whipped cream yet? So good!!!

Obviously, we had to bring along some of Life’s Patina Mercantile and Cafe Raisinet Oatmeal cookies baked by our masterful in-house baker, Suzy.

These little brown paper bags with a clear window are the perfect packaging material to serve cookies, candies and brownies in.

Toss in bottled beverages like this French lemonade from World Market and you have a beautiful picnic lunch! Or a chilled bottle of wine or champagne if you so desire.

Opps… I forgot one of the most important elements to make your picnic pretty and practical… vintage linens! Don’t forget to pack along a vintage linen tablecloth to both sit on and serve your picnic on! They make pretty happen in a heartbeat!

Circling back to that picnic basket that prompted this whole story… you can use one if you have one on hand, for they often come with melamine dish ware that you can use, cups and the likes or if you have an empty one, just add your own.

They really are a great way to corral all of the goodies in one place for your picnic.

Oh yes… it really is in the little details that make a big impact.

Here, I snipped some fresh rosemary from the garden and tucked little branches into the baking twine. It is just a small gesture that goes a long way in making something ordinary special… and that really is what packing a picnic is all about.

As promised, I’ll leave you with two of my favorite sandwich recipes that are perfect to package up for a summer picnic.


Nicoise Sandwiches (via Victoria Magazine, July/August 2020 issue)

  • 4 oz slim haricots verts, trimmed and halved
  • 1/2 medium shallot, peeled and sliced
  • 4 diagonally cut portions baguette or ciabatta
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp country Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • Sprinkle of kosher salt and black pepper
  • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups baby arugula
  • 2 medium tomatoes, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, peeled and sliced
  • 2 (5 oz) cans albacore tuna, drained
  • 4 tsbp pitted Nicoise olives, halved lengthwise
  1. Bring water to a boil in a pot and add haricots verts. Cook until crisp, 2-3 minutes. Drain and transfer to an ice bath. Strain and transfer to a bowl. Add shallot and set aside.
  2. Using a serrated knife, halve each baguette or ciabatta lengthwise. Spread mayo on cut sides.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together mustard, lemon juice, salt and pepper and olive oil until well combined.
  4. In a larger bowl, toss arugula with 1 tbsp mustard mixture. Add remaining mixture to bowl with haricots verts and shallots, stirring until combined.
  5. Top bottom halves of bread with tomatoes and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with haricots verts and egg slices. Cover with chunks of tuna, then arugula and olives. Close sandwiches with top half of bread.


Eggplant, Prosciutto, & Pesto Pressed Picnic Sandwiches (via Host the Toast)

  • Click here for this delicious recipe from Host the Toast, featuring homemade pesto and fresh mozz on ciabatta. Yum!

Happy picnicking and if you would like to share some of your favorite picnic ideas or recipes, we would love to hear about them!

xoxo Meg







share to:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.