Everyone knows that the first step in planning an al-fresco meal is choosing the right spot. Vancouver has an abundance of gorgeous parks and beaches to choose from but, on sunny days, these can be overrun with, well, people—not to mention errant Frisbees and meandering pooches threatening to disturb your setup or devour your Instagram-worthy spread.
For those looking to pull off a truly foolproof, picture-perfect picnic, Tarina Taylor and Kelly Bertrand of Say Events suggest renting a space, like a private farm. It may seem extravagant, but it will allow you to control the elements. The two have planned weddings, retreats and festivals but, during the pandemic, are shifting their focus to intimate outdoor events. To make even a simple backyard picnic feel special, they recommend adding such thoughtful touches as elegant balloons from Frankie & Co. or Balloon Studio and fresh flower arrangements. Also consider renting décor pieces and outdoor furniture from Ellssi, Past Pieces or Bespoke Decor, particularly when it comes to organizing a a picnic in celebration of a birthday or anniversary—or serving as the backdrop for a marriage proposal.
If you prefer to keep your outdoor gathering simple and low-key, and plan to arrange a few such events during these warmer months, you may want to invest in some fun picnic pieces. The Fjällmott picnic blanket from Ikea has a waterproof backing and built-in carrying straps, while a Turkish blanket from B Yoga is soft but durable. Basket wise, the large Sunnylife picnic basket from Indigo comes with plates, cups, cutlery, a bottle opener and a cutting board, plus an insulated compartment for keeping food cold. Add to it some cloth napkins and cheese knives from EQ3 and you’re set. For a one-stop shop, Bed Bath & Beyond stocks picnic items galore: everything from an ultra-practical Picnic Time folding sports chair to a chic Picnic at Ascot cake carrier. But our top pick has to be the Games Galore picnic blanket, printed with four classic board games, which can even be personalized with two lines of text.
Fun accessories aside, one mustn’t forget the food (to do so would be a picnic sin). Mouthwatering DIY options abound at specialty grocery shops like Meinhardt Fine Foods, The Gourmet Warehouse and Urban Fare. If you’d rather let someone else do the meal prep, then support a local resto by ordering a to-go box. A cornucopia of delicious takeout kits for convenient outdoor noshing are available from Vancouver favourites like Bel Café, Juke Fried Chicken, Chancho Tortilleria and St. Lawrence. The Beach Bag Combo for Two from Beetbox comes in a cute organic bag for you to keep, and the plant-based eatery’s new four-litre Beet the Heat Slushie Buckets are the perfect thirst-quenching accompaniment. Pretty much anything from the menu at Railtown Cafe and Catering is picnic-ready, but our top pick is the Parisian Picnic Lunch, with Niçoise salad, pâté, house-made baguette and more.
Further afield, Hopcott Farms packs each of its picnics in a charming wicker basket that looks ready for a photo shoot. The Graze Company has an array of boxes, including a vegan option filled with fruits, veggies, nuts, plant-based cheeses and chocolate. So, pack up and set out. Picnic season is here. —Sheri Radford
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