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With its earliest roots in ancient Greece and Rome, the art of picnicking has evolved quite a bit over the centuries, including its name.

Evolution of the Name and Concept

While no known name for the act of dining outdoors in an open meadow or garden has been found for the classical antiquity period, by the 18th century, French aristocrats deemed the act of feasting a “pique-nique” – although these elaborate gatherings were rarely held in the open air. During the French Revolution, many aristocrats fled the country and made their way to London. At this time, the word “picnic” began popping up in literature. The feast was taken outdoors, and it became more of a basic meal accompanied by music and dancing enjoyed mainly by the middle class.

Picnicking Finds Its Way to the States

By the 19th century, the concept hopped the pond and found its way to the States. What had begun as exquisitely prepared meals in extravagant settings that symbolized social stature evolved into a pastime enjoyed by people of all socio-economic classes. By the 20th century, wicker picnic baskets allowed for more mobility – encouraging picnickers to take their meals on the road for enjoyment in a variety of destinations. Then came the invention of a portable ice chest in the 1950s, which coincided with an explosion in car tourism, and picnicking really began its heyday. As more homes became dual-income households with two working parents in the 1970s and 80s, professionally prepared options were combined with homemade dishes. Today, picnicking is experiencing a new renaissance enjoyed by GenZ – whether for a date night or an elaborate party theme.

How to Design a Picnic of Epic Proportions

In celebration of National Picnic Month, Woody’s Bar-B-Q has compiled four ways to bring the ancient art of picnicking to your next gathering. Consider employing a few of these age-old practices to host an event of EPIC proportions…

  1. Select your Setting

Like any great work of art, it all begins with a beautiful backdrop. What will be your “canvas”? A clearing at the top of a mountain trail, a stretch of sand in the shade of a palm tree, a grassy knoll overlooking a lake, a breezy riverside glen, a favorite spot at a local park? Wherever you choose to craft your event, consider what you’ll need to make it comfortable for your guests. Will a picnic blanket suffice, or will you need to employ a table and seating? Will bugs be an issue? You’ll need to pack bug spray along with the contents of your meal. If it’s an exposed spot, you may want to time your picnic for when it will be cooler or when the shade will be pointed in your favor.

  1. Create a Vibe

Are you looking to host a classic picnic with red and white gingham tablecloths and wicket baskets? Or are you seeking a more elevated affair? If it’s the latter, you can select a color story and explore the concept of “moveable feasts” that run the gamut from one sprawling dining table set with an array of chairs, fine linens, and silverware to more of a Bohemian gathering marked by a table fashioned from wood pallets with overstuffed floor cushions for seating, floral arrangements, and candles. You can also select from a wide variety of party themes and use a picnic pavilion with picnic tables as a foundation upon which you can create your event’s vibe.

  1. Craft a Menu

Your event’s vibe or theme will drive the menu. You may elect to host a classic picnic with chips, sandwiches, and desserts. You may host a tailgate-themed picnic with grilled burgers and hot dogs. There’s also the garden party theme, where you may request your guests dress up a little. You’ll want to serve a more elevated menu of finger sandwiches and a mix of salads. You can always go with a potluck theme and have everyone contribute something different to the meal. And – of course – you can always outsource the preparation of your meal. For more than 40 years, Woody’s Bar-B-Q has been a popular addition to countless picnics of a wide variety of sizes. Picnickers find our slow-smoked meats by the pound, ribs by the rack, whole smoked chickens, comfort food sides by the quart, whole pies, and sweet tea by the gallon to be real crowd-pleasers for picnics of various themes. Visit our Locations Page to find the Woody’s near you, and our team will be happy to help you craft your menu.

  1. Incorporate Entertainment

Besides the opportunity to enjoy great food in a beautiful setting, picnics are an excellent chance to take part in fellowship with friends and loved ones. Select your entertainment based on your theme to enjoy before and after the meal. In the case of music, you can even enjoy it during the meal. Create a playlist on your mobile device and pack a Bluetooth speaker. Pack some games, as well. A plastic disc or football for tossing is an easy addition, but if you’d like to engage more members of your party in the activity, you might want to toss in some potato sacks (or king-sized pillowcases) for a potato sack race, a pole for a game of limbo, and/or a cornhole set. Games like duck-duck-goose don’t require any supplies, and you can use elements of your picnic supplies for other classic games like musical chairs or capture the flag (or napkin). It’s all about making memories and doesn’t have to be hard!

From all of us here at Woody’s Bar-B-Q, we wish you a Happy National Picnic Month and welcome the chance to be a part of your event!

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KB 7/2/24