We’ve just experienced the hottest day of the year so far and with the warm weather looking like it’s set to stay (albeit with a few thunderstorms thrown in for good measure), we’ve put together a guide to hosting the perfect picnic spread, from the best drinks to serve to our favourite wicker hampers on the market.
This week is National Picnic Week (yep, apparently that’s a thing) and how better to celebrate than throwing down the blanket and ringing in the summer with friends in the park.
If you’re in need of a little hosting help, read on to find out how you too can throw the perfect park picnic.
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Drinks to pack
Picture this: you’ve found the perfect picnic spot, thrown the blanket down, the kids are playing and you’re about to crack open your favourite summer tipple with your friends. Does it get any better?
If you’re wondering what drinks to serve up at your next picnic, we’d recommend having a few options to suit everyone’s needs, whether they are a lover of rosé or need a refreshing non-alcoholic tipple to cool them off.
Adding some spark to the mixers scene is premium drinks brand Double Dutch. Set up by twin founders Joyce and Raissa who noticed a gap in the market, their bottles are dedicated to bringing the party to your cup. They offer a range of tasty, unexpected flavour combinations, from cucumber and watermelon to pomegranate and basil, as well as our favourite the Bloody Mary soda. All you need to do is add in your spirit of choice or if there are any designated drivers at the picnic, these are great sipped solo too. Right now you get 15% off their premium mixers with our unique discount code HANDBOOK15 when applied at checkout.
As the official sponsors of National Picnic Week, it would be foolish if we didn’t give a mention to canned wine specialists The Uncommon. Committed to keeping things local, the wine brand sources the finest grapes from wines within 50 miles of London. The result? Delicious spritzers bursting with flavour, freshness and lighter footprint. We love the rosé wine spritzer for when we want a fresh and fruity hit.
For the beer drinks, look to Camden Town Brewery for a taste of London. Whether you’re after an easy drinking lager, pale ale or an IPA, they have you covered. Plus they even have a special picnic pack complete with a blanket and jute cooler bag.
Food to buy
The key ingredient to any picnic is of course the food! Whether you’re looking to go entirely homemade, grab some party favourites from your next Ocado shop or want to find somewhere in the capital that does all of the hard work for you, we’ve whittled down a few of our favourites.
From M&S pork pies and vegan sausage rolls to mini Victoria sandwich cakes and all butter flapjacks, look to Ocado to satisfy your picnic needs this summer. Their summer shop is packed with all of the best treats you need to have a good time, whether you’re after sweet treats to keep the kids happy or warm weather saviours to help your cool down.
The royals of the wicker market, Fortnum & Mason are here to help take the hassle out of packing up with their dedicated hampers. We love the Piccadilly Spring Picnic for Two, which comes complete with a smoked salmon platter, cheese platter, rye bread and crudites, as well as salads and dips to delight all. Expect to find bamboo cutlery, plates, wine glasses, a corkscrew and a bottle of Avesso Vinho Verde. To make the experience even more enjoyable, stock up on everyone’s favourites in their fresh food aisles, from mini pies and paté to their legendary scotch eggs.
Delivering picnics powered by fresh produce, delicious treats and cocktails in jars, specialist picnic service Pique is the ultimate brand to look at if you’re after an afternoon where everything runs smoothly. They have a range of offerings, including many that are available for nationwide delivery, from the Jubilee special to afternoon tea, birthday packages to the ultimate brunch.
Jewish delicatessen and bakery, Panzer’s boasts several hampers pimped with summertime goodies. For the veggies look at their vegetarian package, loaded with challah bread, new potato salad, house-made hummus, spinach and ricotta rolls, salads and chocolate brownies.
Hamper baskets we love
If you aren’t thinking of grabbing one of Fortnum & Mason’s pre-prepped hampers, make up your own with a wicker hamper. There are hundreds of great ones around, from Not on the High Street’s oval number to John Lewis’s willow wicker that comes with a chequered rug.
We love Oliver Bonas’ take on the classic hamper, offering up green and cream pinstripes with tan leather straps.
Parks to throw down the blanket at
Grab your wicker basket, gather your friends and dine with the dinosaurs over at Crystal Palace. Whether you’re after a spot by the lake, near the children’s playground for entertaining the kids or just want to pitch up next to a Megalosaurus, this is a prime spot for people watching, big groups and of course picnicking.
Head East and you’ll find Victoria Park. When it’s not being converted into the festival venue for All Points East, it’s a great green space to spend the afternoon. Situated next to Regent’s Canal makes it perfect for Sunday strolls before pitching up at the park.
Home to 200-acres of green space, Battersea Park is situated on the banks of the Thames and is home to many perfect areas. Spend the morning at Battersea Park Zoo or wander around stopping by the Bandstand and Peace Pergola before pitching up by the boating lake.
Extra essentials you can’t do without
From tartan rugs to outdoor cushions, bamboo cutlery to lemon shaped platters, no picnic is complete without all of the extra additions. These are a few of our favourites…