Hot Tips for a Hot Picnic: Staying active outside all year long
While you might think the time for picnics has passed with the change of seasons, there's nothing further from the truth! With the United Kingdom's largely temperate climate, we are lucky to have enjoyable weather for much of the year (snowy peaks and windy shorelines notwithstanding).
The key to a successful picnic in the late autumn and early winter period is warm, belly-filling food and vibrant, movement-focused activities for what we like to call a hot picnic! A barrier between bum and ground is crucial for moments of rest and relaxation, making a PACMAT the perfect choice for any hot picnic. Our PACMAT Patches (now made with recycled ripstop!) contain a bonus thermal layer making them an ideal buddy for outdoor activities that fall past the first frost. The waterproof nature of all of our PACMAT picnic mats is helpful for those patches of ground and wooden bench reluctant to give up their moisture to the late-autumn sun.
Here are some more ideas to make your hot picnics a hit with your family and friends! We've linked some relevant products from us and our friends at Ramble Co., Outdoor People and Little Trekkers.
Hot Tips for Hot Picnics!
- Don't forget the usual picnic essentials! Sunscreen and sunglasses are still needed in the colder months to protect from UV rays. Tissues and handkerchiefs are likely to come in handy for runny noses. Bring a bag for rubbish disposal and hand sanitiser to clean hands before eating. Packing cold-weather extras like hand warmers and extra socks or blankets may also be helpful depending on the day.
- Cook food to warm the body and spirit. This will look different for every family and friend group, so feel free to get creative! A potato and leek soup, oxtail stew, or sambar curry matched with some bread for dipping are great options. Vermicelli noodles cook within a couple minutes in hot liquids, so adding them to a phở or laksa soup is a quick way to add extra bulk to a flavourful dish without adding much weight to your pack. Pastas, beans, jacket potatoes, jollof rices, goulashes, meatballs, dumplings, cassoulets, and more can be packed in thermal food containers. You can even pack hot desserts like sticky toffee pudding, sweet plantains, and peach cobbler if you want to make a real party of it! The only limit is your imagination. While water is always important, hot chocolate, coffee, and tea are always crowd-pleasers in the drinks department.
- Keeping your food warm is easier than you'd think! If you don't mind the weight, a regular hot water bottle can be used much like an ice pack in the summer! While it won't keep anything steaming hot, it will help slow the impact of the cold, especially when combined with an insulated carrier bag. A cooler bag can be used the other way around, insulating hot foods from the chilly outdoors. Food flasks, thermal serving bowls, and other insulated containers are truly your best friend here. Tumblers and food flasks can be expensive, but they're made to last, so they'll be with you far longer than most plasticware. Looking for them second-hand is a great way to reduce cost and environmental impact without compromising quality. Wrap breads and tortillas in foil and towels if you aren't going too far! Packing every meal individually can also help by reducing exposure that might occur serving food family-style. A little bit of prep goes a long way to keeping food steaming hot for that perfect spot atop the hill.
- Plan activities that keep your body moving when not feasting! Nothing will feel colder than sitting still as the wind whips around you. Hiking, kicking around a football, and even charades can get your blood pumping with minimal equipment necessary. Having a dance party is an excellent option for groups of all sizes that allows you to share with your loved ones your sickest dance moves and the music that makes you happy! Nature-themed scavenger hunts offer an active way to learn about the environment's seasonal changes. Go Find It offers ideas for scavenger hunts no matter where you are! Our Pocket Pals offer even more ideas for activities on your picnics year-round, so check them out for even more ideas.
- Bring a head torch! The days are getting shorter and it can be easy to get carried away playing until sundown. Plus, there's no better time of year to catch sunsets with the little ones long before their bedtime. Whether you're in your garden, your neighborhood's local green space, or a national park, make sure to get home safely.
We hope you've enjoyed these ideas and will consider a hot picnic for any day in which you find adventure calling your name. Lay down your PACMAT and enjoy the bracing air.
Just like any picnic, be sure to leave nature as you found it, if not better! Doing a 10-minute garbage hunt as a final activity is a great way to care for the flora and fauna we share this Earth with.
Happy hot picnicking!