Pack it up in style

Go ahead and call it “summer” if you like, but for some of us, it’s just as often known as “picnic season.”

We’re the hard-core picnickers. We search out and coordinate the perfect picnic baskets for the outing; we plan the locations and timing (sunsets! glorious weather days! concerts!) and menus for said picnics almost as if they were a wedding or anniversary, and we look forward to them every bit as much. Meanwhile, most of all, we make sure the whole shebang is stylish as can be.

All of that starts, not surprisingly, with a super chic basket. And it has to be appropriate to what it’s carrying and what’s getting served. (How much food? Are there drinks involved? Do things need to be kept cold? Do you need utensils?). The Party Pack Picnic Basket ($99 on westelm.com) is a true wicker classic — complete with leatherette straps — that can pack an entire afternoon’s worth of food. Count on room for sandwiches, sides, drinks and dessert for four people, along with the already-included porcelain plates, wine glasses, utensils for four, plus a corkscrew. All nestled into a snazzy canvas navy blue and white striped lining.

For something a little sportier that keeps foods colder longer, order up a Collapsible Market Basket by Picnic at Ascot ($52 on nordstrom.com). The preppy-cute fabric pattern covers a lightweight aluminum frame that collapses for easy storage. And it’s insulated and keeps everything cool for hours.

The basket also has to be appropriate to environment. So if you’re hiking, that means a setup like the Sunflora Picnic Backpack for 4-Person Set Pack ($89.99 on amazon.com). With a large insulated waterproof pouch, it fits food and drink for four, plus four sets of stainless steel flatware, melamine plates, environmental protection TPE wine glasses and one bamboo cutting board.

As for what to fill those pretty packages up with, if you’re sticking around the Boston area and don’t feel like cooking, sandwiches straight from the North End are my natural choice. Bricco Salumeria’s award-winning panino ($11.95 on briccosalumeria.com) — a layering of fresh mozzarella, tomato, basil and prosciutto — hold up well on the walk to your picnic spot.

MAY 27, 2021 – Trilly Maine’s Seafood Nosh Kit. Photo trilly-maine.com

Or, if you’re hitting the road for a day or weekend trip, check out the phenomenal premade picnic boxes created by Trilly (order a la carte on trilly-maine.com), which delivers, ships or does pickups. The sesame-seeded lavash, smoked trout pate, lemon-dill shrimp and peanut butter miso anise cookies are simply to die for.

MAY 27, 2021 – Waterproof gingham picnic blanket. Photo from markandgraham.com

And wherever you’re going, you’ll need something to sit on. Waterproof is always ideal, but so is comfort. So I love the Gingham Waterproof Picnic Blanket ($99 on markandgraham.com). When I’ve got my friends and family with me and am looking for a quick rollout and, after the fun, a quick rollup, Vera Bradley’s Picnic/Beach Blanket in Rain Forest Canopy Cora ($65.95 on thepaperstore.com) is what I’m glad I brought along. Its unusually pretty, bright pattern and long strap handles seal the deal for a perfect picnic outing.

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