It’s never the wrong time of the year to be thinking of picnic ideas for a crowd. While the main course of any good gathering is the company itself, having something new and delicious to look forward to trying is just the icing on the cake. Whether it’s a summertime backyard soiree or a re-creation of the 1967 NFL Ice Bowl in January, thinking of picnic ideas for a crowd is always in season.
One of the most innovative picnic ideas for a crowd is to try a new sport. In the USA, cricket is a good example of a fun sport that is fairly easy to learn but rarely played. If you can hit a ball, throw a ball and tag a runner, you can play (sounds familiar, doesn’t it?) Having a new activity in which to immerse a group can lead to a greater connection than a gathering where everyone goes to their familiar corners of conversation.
How about, even if the faces are the same, each one of them makes a dish not served before at a group get-together? Not only will it spur conversation, it will also expand your palates. Make sure there is a flow, by having some chefs de cuisine responsible for sides, some for main courses, and some for desserts and beverages. Other than that, let your imagination run wild.
Why not do as the healthy ones do, and put more plant-based foods into your diets? This does not consist of solely eating raw carrot sticks and brussel sprouts on the stalk. Feel free to invite couscous salads, soy ‘chickn’ dippers, roasted vegetables tortes, and yes, even chocolate decadence goodies to the party. If everyone brings one non-meat item, it’s possible by the end of it, you will forget beef’s invitation that was lost in the mail…
There are almost as many types of barbecue in this world as there are people who adore it. Why not have a barbecue cook-off, with the grand prize being the immersion of your own appetites into this wonder dish? From the boldness of traditional Texas beef barbecue to the sweet spiciness of Korean BBQ and every part of the world in between, there will be a BBQ recipe to please all of the palates at your gathering. From Carolina’s pork variety to Kansas City’s sweet gooey recipe, to PETA’s vegan BBQ option, keep it coming! The good news is, many of these types are even better when cooked the day before. So, when you arrive at the party, just put your aluminum pan on the grill and let the flame do all of the heavy lifting while you lift another chip to your lips. For those who prefer not to try their hand at the special sauce, why not have them bring buns, coleslaw, and the aforementioned chips?
Yes, while looking for the newest yo-yo may not be on your must-have list (and no, we’re not talking about your next date), how fun would it be to have an activity where the prize is a bottle of the pinot noir that was the hit of your last gathering? Or how about a DVD of the classic movie your group recently spoke of that no one has seen? Have each of the attendees (or couples) bring a prize, and hand it to the host who will then hide it. While you are waiting for the grill to heat or the burgers to cook, get into small teams, and take a card from the host with clues on where to find the goody. The first person to find it wins it, whatever it is. During desert, if you’d like to have a ‘Pink Elephant’ trade-off of any unwanted gifts, go right ahead! This may be one picnic exception where the food ISN’T the main focus!
There’s nothing more fun to a wine or beer drinker than discovering something new to appreciate. Whether with your coat on or in your swimsuit, an outdoor blind tasting can be just the ticket for your next picnic. Make sure there is a dollar limit on the bottles, and have everyone bring one. Wrap them in brown paper bags, and label each one with a number, and let the pouring begin. Ask everyone to keep track of their favorite Top 3 choices. At the end, let the reveal begin. You may be surprised that the least expensive ones often outrank the Big Daddies. If there are those who would rather bring appetizers or be the DJ du jour, even better!
This is another case of ‘when we were kids’ becoming new and improved as adults. Take a white sheet, and hang it in between those two unsightly trees in your backyard, on your porch, or even over the garage door. Have your techno-friend be in charge of renting or borrowing a LED projector to hook up to your laptop, or dig the reel-to-reel with tape out of your parent’s basement. It doesn’t really matter what you’re playing on the screen, because the highlight of the evening will be the activity of a drive-in movie without the cars! Find some funky recipes for popcorn to enjoy too. From sweet kettle corn covered in chocolate, to savory parmesan and bacon popcorn, to la-di-da truffle oil corn, you will have as much fun making it as eating it. Well, almost…. This can also be done in advance.
Having an outdoor gathering somehow breathes new life into the ordinary get-togethers between family and friends. While there truly is nothing more important to a party than the people who attend it, showing extra appreciation by making it something unexpected is the cherry on top. What are some of your favorite ways to get together with family and friends?
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