Six Essentials to Pack for Leisurely Days in the Sun According to Picnic Queen Karina Findley
From old-school lawn games to gooey cheeses, here are the gems that'll upgrade your next picnic.
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Now that outdoor gatherings are back on the cards, Sydneysiders who have rolled up their sleeves to get the jab have also been rolling out their picnic blankets for outdoor hangs with four fully vaxxed mates. By now, you've probably attended a handful of slapdash picnics where seeing your friends was top of the agenda. Now, it's time to take things up a notch.
Enter Karina Findley: the brains behind The Picnic Club — a boutique service that curates chic picnics for all al fresco occasions, from social catch-ups to bridal parties, anniversaries and even proposals. Now that picnics are back, it's no surprise that Findley has been in high demand of late. "As soon as Gladys mentioned the word 'picnic', that was it," says Findley. "It's absolutely blown up."
So what are the foundations of a good picnic? According to Findley, it's about the company first and foremost. Then: location, location. "A nice view is very important. My favourite [spots] are Lawn 33 at the Royal Botanical Garden and Willow Pond in Centennial Park." Amenities should factor into planning — "especially important if you're having a few drinks" — and, of course, an abundance of snacks.
Together with our friends at Rosie Spritz, we asked Findley to share her top six picnic essentials that'll help level up your next one — because nobody wants to sit on a beaten-up tarp topped with a plate of Jatz and cut-up cabanossi. Check out Findley's absolute picnic musts, head to your local bottle-o and pick up a four-pack of Rosie Spritz, and make a beeline to your favourite (BYO-friendly) park, stat.
THE PERFECT BLANKET
In life, a solid foundation is the key to success — and same goes for picnics. That's why, according to Findley, a good blanket on which to lay your spread is crucial. "You want something that's really nice for the setting. But you don't want to be going to a picnic and carrying kilos of items. We do that when we set up for The Picnic Club, but it's not great for DIY," she says.
There are a few things to look for when selecting the perfect rug. According to the expert: "It needs to be large because you're going to have friends, food, drink and lots of other things on there. Also something that's got a waterproof lining underneath in case the ground is damp is ideal." The picnic queen loves this blanket from The Tartan Blanket Co. "It's light and has a chic leather carry strap, so it's easy to carry once you've finished or if you're planning to take a walk after," she says.
AN INSULATED PICNIC BASKET
A day in the sun with mates is glorious, but you know what can sour things? A tepid spritz because you didn't pop it in a cooler bag. And, as it turns out, not all insulated items are created equal.
"Eskies are great, but they're a bit too bulky. Whereas a picnic basket — especially one that's insulated — is great because you can put everything in there neatly, including both edible items and utensils and napkins; things that wouldn't fare very well inside a cooler," says Findley. "They can also be really light, so you can easily carry it with one hand and not have to be dragging it to your picnic spot." Her pick: this insulated wicker number from The Beach People.
SOMETHING TO GRAZE ON
Snacks are without a doubt the most important player in the picnic game. "You want to have enough that you can lightly graze on throughout the day without completely filling yourselves up, and ensuring there's enough for everyone to go around," says Findley. "If you're going the DIY route, you'll want a few different cheeses — a hard cheese, a soft cheese and a blue cheese. Olives are essential, along with a selection of deli meats, chips, crackers and dips. Then some kind of fruit — strawberries are always a good option."
Don't want the hassle of creating your own lavish spread? If you're planning a luxe picnic for a large group, Findley recommends local business Goodness Gracious Sydney for all your pre-made platter needs.
PROTECTION FROM THE ELEMENTS
While embracing the great outdoors, it's always important to slip, slop and slap. For Findley, sunscreen is a non-negotiable. "The Sydney sun can be brutal, so sun protection is a must. Pack sunscreen for your face and body as well as a hat (and perhaps a few extras in case picnic guests forget theirs)." Her protection picks are Ultra Violette sunscreen and a chic sun hat from Jac Cedeaux.
Because we're still in the midst of a pandemic, other protections are a must, too. "These days, I usually pop a few spare disposable face masks in my kit, and sanitiser is a must for good hygiene and sticky hands," Findley tells us.
"First things first, some background music is always nice. Bring along a portable speaker and let everyone add their songs to a Spotify playlist — one of my friends likes Phil Collins, the other likes soft house," says Findley. "It means you get some variety on the day."
With the mood appropriately set, you'll want to keep the party going. One way of doing this is with picnic games, for which Findley recommends Planet Finska. "At The Picnic Club, we love boules, giant Jenga, Finska, quoits and croquet on rotation." For smaller gatherings, she reckons you can't go past a classic: "Uno is a nice bit of nostalgic fun."
So, the sun is setting and it's time to pack up, but there's a heap of leftovers. Over-catering is not uncommon — as Findley says: "you don't want to run out [of food]." Her solution is both eco-friendly and efficient when it comes to packing up your basket after a day in the sun. Bring a few beeswax wraps — Findley suggests ones from Eco Bee Studio — in lieu of takeaway containers. After all, as Findley sagely says: "good cheese should never go to waste."
And that's it folks. Add Karina Findley's picnic essentials to your swag for your next park hang with mates — we're sure it'll be an upgrade from sitting on wet, itchy grass and having to make do with a single packet of chips.
Rosie Spritz is an ideal springtime sip and is available at BWS, Dan Murphy's and First Choice Liquor stores across Sydney. For more picnic inspiration, check out our guides to idyllic picnic spots where you can BYO booze in Sydney's inner west, inner city, lower north shore, eastern suburbs and northern beaches.
Top image (in order): Brooke Zotti and The Picnic Club
Remember to Drinkwise.
Published on October 01, 2021 by John Agnew