It’s picnic season, which means it’s time to hit the parks, our backyards, and balconies to soak up some rays while dining in style. You’ve probably seen the trend of “aesthetic” or “themed” picnics all over social media, and we’re totally on board! Making your own food is always more affordable than dining out, and this trend makes it feel like you’re dining at your favorite restaurant minus the bill at the end. 

Follow these tips to create the experience of dining at a restaurant from the comfort of your picnic blanket.

1. Pick a theme

If you want to create a specific experience, you may want to pick a theme for your picnic. Whether you want to recreate an Italian restaurant, steakhouse, or café, the choice is yours. Picking a theme will also help guide your decisions when choosing the food and decor for your picnic.

2. Bring a surface

A picnic setup can be a simple tablecloth or blanket on the ground, but if you want to recreate the restaurant experience, a surface to place your food and dinnerware will go a long way to set the tone. One trend we’ve seen is using a low coffee table or collapsible table. Use whatever you have at home and see what could work. Even a cooler or storage chest covered with a tablecloth will do the trick!

3. Decorate with a tapestry or tablecloth

The tablecloth will be your main piece of decor for your picnic. Use solid, neutral colors for a fine dining look or patterned designs for a more casual vibe. Make sure that your tablecloth is big enough for all your guests and the food you plan to bring.

4. Create a centerpiece

Tables at a restaurant often have fresh flowers, small plants, or candles as decor. Create a centerpiece to decorate your surface or tablecloth and make your DIY restaurant feel authentic. We don’t recommend lighting real candles at a picnic, but you can find battery-powered candles or lanterns, which are great for setting the mood at afternoon and night picnics.

5. Arrange comfy seating

Bring enough pillows and cushions to layer for a comfortable and cozy seating space. Folded blankets or towels will also do the trick. Use whatever you have available to stay within your budget.

6. Play some tunes

Another key part of creating the restaurant atmosphere is music. Bring portable speakers to play music while you dine. You may want to create a playlist ahead of time to match the theme you’re going for. You can also do a quick search on YouTube or other streaming services like Spotify for pre-made playlists.

7. Prepare simple and creative recipes

What we love the most about eating at a restaurant is trying foods we wouldn’t usually cook at home. That’s why for this restaurant-themed picnic, we recommend branching out from sandwiches and pasta salads. Here are our favorite simple and creative recipes. Be sure to check your local grocery ads on the Flipp app to get your ingredients for the best price.

If you want to skip the cooking and support a local restaurant, you can order takeout, which is usually cheaper than dining in. Serve the food on your own dinnerware to make it fit the theme.

8. Craft homemade drinks

Freshly-made refreshments are another perk of dining at a restaurant. The good news is that you can craft your own drinks without much hassle or effort! For a casual event, we recommend making one fresh drink in a big jug or glass dispenser for everyone to help themselves. Fruit-infused water or fresh lemonade with mint will please a crowd. If you want to create individual drinks, here are a couple of our favorite summer cocktail recipes

9. Use real glassware and dinnerware

Disposable plates and cups are practical and make cleanup easy, but if you want to make your picnic feel like a real restaurant, bring glassware and dinnerware from home. Depending on the food you decide for your picnic, you might also want to bring wicker baskets and a serving board to style your food. Set the “table” for your meal to make it look extra fancy for a perfectly Instagrammable aesthetic.

10. Remember to bring these essentials

It’s easy to overlook these essentials when you’re having so much fun planning your themed picnic. Here are some things you should bring to make sure you’re safe and hydrated, and to simplify cleanup.

If you want to picnic in style and on a budget, the key is to use what you already have at home. If there are any items you want to add that you don’t already own, check the Flipp app to make sure you get them on sale. Your favorite home and garden retailers on Flipp are offering deals on outdoor decor, dinnerware, and more.

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