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Soft wool blankets, wicker baskets, delicious smoked salmon and the fancy cookies from that pricey deli in town...all whilst reclining on strategically placed soft furnishings. Yes, these signs all point to a beautiful luxury picnic in full swing. Picnics can now be so much more than limp pre-made salads, dry packet sandwiches and flat warm soda... the simple tartan rug just isn’t enough anymore, we’re now looking for bigger AND better. The luxury picnic business is booming nationwide and who are we to stop them? 

With picnics no longer reserved for hikes in the local park, many catering businesses are seeing a surge in customers who are booking luxury picnics for weddings, birthdays, brand launches, and other big celebrations. Celebrities like Adrienne Bosh and Kourtney Kardashian are turning to companies like The Picnic Collective to design the most luxurious and chic picnic soiree for their guests. Perhaps it's the fresh outdoor air or the bohemian chic look that they are going for. Whatever the reason, gardens, beaches, the host’s very own backyard, and other picture-perfect locations are all hot favorites. Clients can now be offered the ultimate luxury picnic experience with all their creature comforts provided; tonal tablescapes, floral arrangements and plush cushions to perch on whilst nibbling on artisan cheeses and organic grapes. 

Unfortunately, as with many similar events, the environmental impacts are often overlooked and sustainable practices are reduced to an inconvenient afterthought. All of which raises an important question. As more and more of us adopt eco-friendly lifestyles inside our homes – shouldn’t we continue to do this outside as well? Plastic cutlery and tableware, single-use plastic, single-use paper napkins and non-disposable packaging make for a wasteful and environmentally damaging social gathering. If our picnics are getting larger and more luxurious – why not embrace the environment? After all, outside in Mother Nature is the very place where picnics are held.

Whether you’re planning a large-scale outside influencer soiree or a romantic date for two, we’re serving you up the hottest and freshest eco-friendly ideas and options – all without losing a hint of luxe.

Plastic Certainly Isn’t Fantastic

It’s time to change the conversation. When we think of picnics, we tend to think of disposable single-use items. After all, it’s probably more convenient to leave them behind as there’s no washing up when you get home. Let’s just forget about the overfilled trash cans around the park, spilling over with dirty plates, cutlery and cups... But nothing about this screams luxe when you serve up your delicious whipped feta dip on flimsy white paper plates. Enter palm leaf plates.

Perfect for any luxury picnic theme, this 100% biodegradable tableware option is made entirely from naturally fallen areca palm leaves, using zero chemicals, dyes or glues. As the entire product is made from natural materials, the whole range can easily be composted, meaning zero waste for your business. The wood grain effect aesthetic gives a more upmarket feel, making them perfect for high-end functions such as brand launches (we’re looking at you Poosh) as well as family-style events. With sizes ranging from 6-inch appetizer to 10-inch dinner plates, their rustic style and versatility will appeal to both caterer and guest alike.

With a unique harvesting method in which no living leaves are plucked from the areca trees, this collection process ensures no harm to the local ecosystem. As both the products and production are sustainable, this allows Chic Leaf to stay committed to its zero-waste vision.

“Picnics? For Summer? Groundbreaking.”

We won’t do a Meryl Streep on you, however, we will go as far as to suggest that youcanactually picnic at any time of year. Yes, to the person in the back – in winter too. We’ll pass if it’s raining, however, nothing beats heading outdoors on a crisp sunny day and you can encourage your patrons to do so too. All that’s required is a little blue sky thinking.

By adapting your menu (and obviously your wardrobe and serving style), the seasonality can be removed from what has always been considered a summertime pursuit.

We’re thinking of heartier dishes and warming drinks to make it a more ‘year round’ experience. We can’t think of anything more romantic than wrapping up warm and getting cozy with luxury silky smooth hot chocolate (don’t skip the marshmallows), warming spiced apple cider or even a hot buttered rum. Chilled fingers wrapped around that steaming cup will thank you for it. If you’re organizing an event for Thanksgiving or you’re hosting a luxury picnic with outdoor evening events then you need to think of a way to keep your guests warm and comfortable whilst they enjoy themselves. Marketing yourselves as an ‘all seasons’ business paves the way for produce to be used according to the time of year as it becomes available. Guests will love pumpkin and truffle soup served in palm leaf bowls whether in the low afternoon sun or after dark whilst gathered around a fire. Alternatively, how about a creamy chowder to accompany those breezy coastal picnics – made with a sustainable catch that might not be typically used.

Winterizing the menu and shopping locally cuts down on your carbon emissions dramatically. Show off your local artisanal cheeses from your neighborhood farmer’s market. Think ahead and use pickled vegetables and preserved berries that are also locally grown. If your luxury picnic uses foliage for décor, consider using dried arrangements or seasonal flowers grown locally to cut down on mileage and packaging!

The Paper Towel: Friend or Foe

At every picnic one of the first things to come out is the paper towel. We’ve come to rely on this go- to item at every moment. In lieu of a plate, to wrap food items in as well as the usual sticky hands and faces but did you know the vast majority ends up in landfill? There has always been confusion as to whether paper towels are in fact eco- friendly due to the very nature of what they are. And yes whilst paperisbiodegradable we can’t unfortunately recycle it due to the inherent contamination. The main problem is the ever-increasing volume sent to landfill as well as its contribution to deforestation, chemical pollution in our water systems and global warming as a whole.

Swapping single use for reusable, signals to others that you are committed in your search for eco- friendly materials such as linen and organic cotton, which are best for sustainable uses.

Our pick comes from the beautifully sustainable Made Trade. With a large range to choose from, including coastal-inspired sets for that luxe beach picnic to pretty flower prints for a meadow style wedding. You’ll find something that fits whichever décor you’re planning for. With an inspiring message behind them, this is definitely one way to instantly step up your eco-friendly credentials.

Recyclable Glassware

Forgetting the obvious environmental downsides of single-use plastics, who actually wants to drink their Beaujolais from a plastic beaker? No one that’s who! Although glass can be heavy to transport, the fact that it can be recycled again and again with no loss of quality is a huge win for us. Today there are a myriad of recycled glassware options available, many of which can be found in your local stores. Some of our favorite designs come from the sustainable glassware range at Nkuku, whilst Refresh Glass has a fantastic business, diverting thousands of bottles each week from clogging up landfill. However, there’s no shortage of options out there. So, the next time you hear that fateful shattering ‘crash’, don’t cringe with despair... think instead of your exciting next step on the sustainability ladder.

Final Thoughts

The word ‘Picnic’ was derived from 17th Century French, and the meaning really hasn’t changed a great deal. A ‘picque-nique’ was essentially a social gathering where attendees brought and shared food. Although we’ve definitely moved on since then, it’s comforting to know that some things have always been.

But even back then, a great deal of care and thought was put into the organization and preparation of the food being eaten. Fruits and vegetables were all seasonal and sourced locally and would have been used alongside other pickles and preserves. Animal produce from local farms and markets would be set proudly center stage on rugs and only the finest bone china would have been used.

Certainly, some (not all!) practices of yesteryear were far less harmful and damaging than what we see today.

That being said, people and businesses can often be put off from taking that first step to a more sustainable lifestyle. Take comfort in knowing that it’s actually better to make a series of smaller, sustainable choices, instead of one massive change. They’re more likely to stick, and you can always tweak your decision-making process as you go along. 

There can also be a reluctance to change for fear that clients and customers will not want to see a different product of service offering. With the rise of social media and increased levels of transparency, the public will no longer accept being willing participants in the wanton destruction of the planet. It’s now up to businesses to provide greener solutions for the consumer. As Dr. Jane Goodall says: “Every individual matters. Every individual has a role to play. Every individual makes a difference.”

We couldn’t agree more, whether you’re an individual or a large business, if we all take that one small step together, imagine what an impact that would make on our world today. 

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