Picnics usually bring to mind images of summer, such as barbecues and fresh lemonade. They are, however, suitable year-round, depending on the weather. Customise your menu to work with your party guests, using more upscale dishes for adults and traditional down-home country fare for kids or mixed company. Your picnic birthday party will entice guests with the smell of food on the grill, the site of a buffet table lined with food or even their own stuffed picnic basket.
Host a picnic birthday party where groups of guests receive their own picnic party. Depending on the size of the baskets used, you may want to assign two to four guests to each basket. You can even custom make baskets for those with certain food allergies, vegetarian guests or guests who only eat kosher foods. Fill small containers with picnic-style foods, such as fried chicken, potato salad and pasta salad. For an adults-only party, use exotic or unusual offerings, including sushi, antipasto platters or muffaletta sandwiches. Each basket should include individual treats, such as pudding cups, wrapped cupcakes or fried pies. Add everything the guest might need, including napkins, utensils and plates. Make sure that each basket has enough food for each guest. Encourage guests to bring their own picnic blankets to share with their group.
The advantage to hosting a picnic potluck is that you aren't required to do all the cooking yourself. Ask your guests to bring one dish to share with the group, similar to a potluck dinner. Make a few dishes yourself and store hot dishes in heated pots or similar cookware, which will keep them warm until guests arrive. Cover the tables with picnic-style tablecloths in red and white plaid and arrange the food into different groupings. Place desserts together, appetizers together, salads in one area and warm dishes in another. Stack plates and utensils at one end of the table, which will make it easy for guests to serve themselves.
A barbecue-style picnic party is suitable for both adults and children. Offer traditional hamburgers and hot dogs as well as grilled veggie burgers for those who don't eat meat. For a more upscale twist, offer shrimp and fresh fish or chicken, grilled with citrus and cilantro. Fresh vegetables and fruits like pineapple take only a few minutes to grill and provide a more adult-friendly side dish. Add dishes that work with your main grilling choices, such as potato salad, macaroni salad, corn-on-the-cob and birthday cake. If you're hosting a picnic for adults only, use alcohol-soaked cupcakes in lieu of the traditional birthday cake.
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