There’s nothing more summery than grabbing bottle of something fizzy, a comfy blanket and chocolate covered strawberries while walking to your favourite park. You arrive, claim your sunny spot, and enjoy an afternoon feeling the sunshine prickling your skin and reading your favourite magazines, all while enjoying some fairly fresh air and getting an awesome tan.
But warm summer days and hours of evening sunshine are a distant memory. Before you begin to pack away your hamper HOLD YOUR HORSES, for a winter picnic could be just as enjoyable.
A winter picnic is exactly as it sounds. It’s a picnic. It is winter. Smoosh those two words together, and you have a picnic in winter, or Winter Picnic. Got it? Good.
The Mr and I have been meaning to try one of these for donkeys years. Being so close to London, it just seems a little bit more acceptable and proper, rather than hanging around notorious dogging spots in Essex. So, what’s the plan this year? He doesn’t know it yet (although he will on publication of this) but for New Year’s Eve instead of paying £10 to stand armpit to face distance with a load of rowdy tourists, we’re heading to Primrose Hill, settling down with scarves and many hot toddies and enjoying fireworks.
How to have a winter picnic (and not get hypothermia)
You’ll need a bit more preparation than your standard summer shindig, but here are a few tips for your very own winter picnic. Features fluffy socks and salted caramel, so clearly you’re interested.
Winter picnic food ideas
If you’re trekking miles out, like we are, keeping food warm will be a problem. See if you’re allowed to start a little campfire, and if so, get some food ready to warm up as well as a little portable barbecue tray. Hot dogs, burritos and soups are easy to assemble and even easier to heat. Plus, the added warmth of the fire will make it all the more enjoyable. Add marshmallows into the mix and you’re golden.
If not, it’s worth finding the nearest cafe and getting your food a short walk from where you’ll be sitting. This is probably what we’ll do, unless the Royals decide their parks can actually handle a small controlled fire and allows them for the night.
If you have the benefit of a short jog, by all means consider packing the following amazing foodstuffs in foil and keeping them in a thermal tub of some sort:
Cream of mushroom soup
Salted caramel hot chocolate (seriously, I dare you to look and not dribble)
Turkey, cranberry and brie grilled cheese sandwiches
The main thing is to choose warming foods that’ll keep you heated from the inside out. This isn’t the time or place for salad to put down that cucumber and ignore the goat’s cheese.
What drinks to make for your winter picnic
Drinks. Ah yes. Now, we’ve already mentioned the hot chocolate above. However, if you fancy adding a glug of alcohol, do it. Champagne, prosecco and Pimm’s really are for sunnier days, so something with a bit more body will work better.
If taking a Thermos flask isn’t possible you’ll need a hip flask, like this little number I was sent from buyahipflask.com. Fill it with whatever floats your boat. I love love love Islay whisky, so for me this’ll be coming along.
What to pack
Winter here could be anything from a sunny day and mild breeze, to full-on snow and fog. If you can pick a sunnier day, do. For the love all that is holy and true, do. If you know you’re planning to picnic on a certain date, such as we are on the New Years, then you’ll have to pack to prepare for the worst.
First, sort out your food situation. Try and pack it all in an easy to carry backpack or bag. Tisn’t the time for a twee wicker picnic basket which lets in all the cold air. Unless you like soggy hot dogs that is. Step away from Cath Kidston tablecloths, and head to your nearest camping/outdoors shop for an insulated bag. If you’re packing soups in a Thermos flask you can be a bit more relaxed about how they travel.
If you need a bit of style, we liked this spacious and pretty cool bag. It keeps food cool (or hot) for six hours, plenty of time for you to travel, unload and eat.
Seating. If there are no benches on which to recline, you’ll be on the floor mate. More than likely the ground will be slightly wet, so you’ll need something with a bit of protection. Again, a camping store will have a rage of plastic backed winter picnic blankets, and Argos has a nifty range too, meaning you’ll be warm and dry. If you’re in for the long haul, bring a sleeping bag. Double, if you want things really cosy.
If you’re planning on staying until dusk, bring some candles in jars, or if fire is banned, bring electric candles. Pillows can be squeezed into a good bag making things even more comfy.
So you have the food, the mood, and the dude. Now, what will you wear?
What to wear to a winter picnic
Google ‘what to wear camping’ and you’ll see threads and blog posts in the millions with distressed women wondering how to look cute while in sub-zero temperatures. Ladies. Gents. Young and old. This isn’t the time. A blogger, called Spunk (!!!) has this to say about braving the *shock horror* outdoors:
You see them all the time, those backpacker – camper girls. They wear their drab sensible shorts that come just to the knees and their button down, shapeless shirts. The camera bag slung over their shoulders seems to complement the accessory of a backpack on their back… Not a good look.
Riiiiight. Most of our readers, according to the googles, are travellers, so I’m assuming if you’ve hiked across SE Asia you’ll be familiar with fisherman’s pants, flip flops and a Singha vest that gets ‘washed’ with deodorant. You’ll know what to wear.
If you’re more of a fashion fiend and can relate to er, Spunk, you’ll need to get to grips with thermal underwear. Seriously, it’s amazing. Usually a vest or tights, it’ll keep you warm for hours. Layers are your friend, so wear them this way: underwear, thermals, t-shirt, jumper, coat. If you get warm, you can take off the top layer and not freeze to death!
Bring a warm hat and mittens. Wear boots, but if you plan on getting cosy, remember to bring fluffy socks to slip into when you’re in the sleeping bag.