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How to Pack a Picnic Basket


My friend Kelly recently told me that I am an exceptionally well prepared picnicker. I didn’t realize this about myself, but I suppose I am a pretty experienced picnicker and a generally organized person. Inspired by our recent picnic outing at Millennium Park (where Iron & Wine and Damien Rice performed – picnics are best with a live soundtrack) – I am sharing my tips on how to pack a picnic basket.

Jewel Picnic_WE (12 of 56)

Here is a list of what you need to be packing in addition to food:
Bottle Opener
Bug Spray
Trash Bag
A sharp knife, and a little cutting board are helpful too


I pack a picnic basket with all of the plates, cups, napkins, and food, plus I bring a cooler with beverages. If you have a picnic basket, keep it stocked with a corkscrew, a bottle opener, and a trash bag at all times.

Jewel Picnic_WE (1 of 56)

Now, let’s talk about beverages. Unfortunately, drinking in parks in Chicago is not legal. Does that stop me? No. But, I have to be discrete. Hide all evidence of alcohol – there are park officials who will catch you at concerts and movies in the park if you have open containers sitting out. Keep the beer/wine/etc in the cooler, and pour your drink into a cup. One important side note: drinking is permitted at Ravinia.


My mom bought me a fantastic picnic basket years ago, and it is stocked with all the essentials. It has an insulated cooler on one side, and wine glasses, a corkscrew, utensils, and plates. And since people ask me about my picnic basket all the time, I tracked it down for you online – here is a link. (And in case you are curious, my bracelets are from The Ropes Maine, and the hat is from Puerto Rico).

Chicago is full of wonderful events at the city parks perfect for picnicking. Click here for a full listing of movies in the park. Do you picnic in the summer? Did I miss anything on my list?

Kari Holtkamp

Tuesday 7th of July 2015

You do pack a great picnic basket! And getting to see Damien Rice while you enjoy your foods and discreet beverages?! Sounds perfect! I loved Damien Rice in college. You talking about him has prompted me to go dig out his CD:) Hope you're having a great day!