How to plan the perfect Valentine’s Day picnic

How to plan the perfect Valentine’s Day picnic
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Planning the perfect Valentine’s Day picnic doesn’t have to cause you anxiety. The French do it best (and arguably cheapest), armed with crispy baguettes, fresh jam, flavorful cheese and a casual class that only people who speak the language of love can command.

But who’s to say the rest of us can’t aspire to that romantic image? Especially on a day like Valentine’s Day. All you need is a location, preferably with a view, some greenery or even a few roses, some key picnic gear and the food.

With the rising trend in aesthetic picnic outings, mostly amassed on social media platforms like TikTok, humble viewers crave an Instagrammable afternoon meal en plein-air. So whether you’re hoping for a simple affair or a scene worthy of Edith Piaf’s timeless voice, this guide to planning the perfect Valentine’s Day picnic is for you.

Choosing your romantic location

Valentine’s Day picnic
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“Location, location, location!” says every event planner you’ve ever met. So if you want your romantic Valentine’s Day picnic to fulfill your and your partner’s expectations, your itinerary begins with the perfect location.

All picnics demand to be hosted outdoors, so taking weather into consideration is a must. Maybe you live in Southern California and bask in a perpetual balmy 70 degrees Fahrenheit, but February can be cold, wet and even snowy for others. Don’t worry! Winter weather picnics aren’t as rare or unappealing as you might believe. But they do require extra planning and gear.

From appropriate but appealing clothing to seating accommodations, location is about more than the aesthetic and the proximity to your dwelling. Extra points if the location happens to be of significance to your relationship.

Essential Valentine’s Day picnic gear

Valentine’s Day picnic
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Bring along your picnic basket. It might seem obvious – step one. But many forget to take this into account until the day of. Of course, it doesn’t have to be a literal basket. If you’re headed to a warm beach, you may need a portable cooler. If you plan to hike to a panoramic view, you might need a spacious backpack.

But what if you are going for the aesthetic picnic vibe, and you’re planning on taking some chic, adorable photos of your Valentine’s Day picnic? Vintage picnic baskets acquired at your local thrift store make for idyllic camera fodder.

Some sustainable items you should consider schlepping along on your V-Day picnic include reusable drinkware, metal straws and reusable bags. Nothing beats sparkly beverages garnished with glimmering fruit, except maybe that beverage inside a cute mason jar. They might not provide insulation to keep your drinks ice cold, but isn’t the fun of a picnic primarily aesthetic? Of course, you’ll need metal straws to sip on said beverage. Any leftovers can go inside reusable bags to avoid plastic use.

Every romantic picnic demands a gingham picnic blanket to keep your outfit clean and your body comfortable. OK, maybe gingham is too much to ask for, but as long as it’s a nice blanket big enough for two, you should be golden. Consider bringing a backup blanket or two for warmth and cuddling, depending on the weather and the time of day.

The most romantic day of the year should be accompanied by music, so be sure to pack your Bluetooth speaker. If you’re truly committed, you’ll curate a Valentine’s Day playlist for the occasion.

Top it all off with flowers. Another obligatory V-Day item, flowers look gorgeous, and it feels good to receive them. Bring some additional water to keep them perky and fresh.

Your delicious meal

Valentine’s Day picnic
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Something light with a few aphrodisiacs in the mix should do the trick. But again, the food depends on the weather. It also depends on the time of day. Maybe you’re hoping for a midmorning brunch affair or an afternoon charcuterie date, or maybe a sunset dinner with Champagne is more your speed.

For charcuterie board ideas – perhaps the most popular picnic appetizer – you’ll need to run to the market. While technically known as a display of cured meats, charcuterie can be vegetarian or even vegan. Procure some nicely seasoned crackers, a few quality cheeses, some nuts and fruit.

If you don’t mind a cliché, bring along some delectable strawberries, a selection of chocolates and a bit of liquid fun. Melted chocolate can be a mess, but if you can manage it, chocolate-dipped strawberries are ideal for Valentine’s Day snacks.

Last-minute options

So, you forgot about Valentine’s Day? No worries, we’re all busy, and some dates are bound to slip through the cracks of our minds. The good news is that the pandemic birthed a wealth of pop-up picnic small businesses.

Most provide consumers with a product line of prepackaged picnic supplies, and the majority include the word “luxury” in their company description. On one hand, who doesn’t love luxury? On the other hand, your wallet might suffer. Some options include Pop Up Picnic Co. in San Diego, California; Picnics With Elegance in Portland, Oregon and Picnic PopUp in Nashville, Tennessee.

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