These Christmas gifts for picnic lovers are the kinds of Christmas presents any picnic enthusiast will appreciate – from a classic wicker picnic basket with the works and a snazzy collapsible drinks bin for all those bottles your generous friends bring, to wonderful picnic recipe books and a cool picnic blanket.
I confess: I am a huge picnic lover. Yesterday, as I was recalling winters in Dubai, when picnicking locals and expats fill the parks, I remembered the regular picnics we used to enjoy with friends in Sydney overlooking the glorious harbour. Summer is picnic time there, but in the desert emirates of the Arabian Peninsula and here in the Southeast Asian tropics, it’s wintertime when everyone shakes out their picnic blankets.
Here in Siem Reap, any weekend or weeknight evening sees locals unfurling their picnic mats for picnics by the river, creeks, canals, and moats of temples like Angkor Wat. They love their picnics. People even make a living out of renting picnic mats and portable hammocks to spontaneous picnic-goers. If I didn’t have my colourful picnic basket from Myanmar and my natural grass mats that I buy from a lovely lady in Battambang who makes them herself, this is what I’d be wishing for this Christmas.
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This is the third instalment of our Christmas gift series. Click through for Classic Cookbooks for Serious Cooks for Christmas ,Best Asian Kitchen Essentials, Christmas Gifts for Travel Photographers and Travellers Who Love Photography, and Travel Books to Inspire Wanderlust.
Christmas Gifts for Picnic Lovers – from Picnic Baskets to Picnic Recipe Books
Classic Picnic Basket
This classic wicker picnic basket for four has to be one of the best Christmas gifts for picnic lovers out there. It’s my idea of dream picnic basket. Handmade, beautifully lined, and already fully loaded with napkins, plates, wine glasses, and silverware (who really wants to use plastic on a picnic?), all you have to do is pack the food and drinks. On one side there’s an insulated cooler for your cheeses, salads and perishable snacks and in the middle there are three separate compartments for your red wine bottles. There are even secured places for salt and pepper shakers and a bottle opener, because there’s nothing more disastrous than losing/forgetting a bottle opener on a picnic, right?
Now, as lovely as the classic wicker picnic basket is, you’re not going to like lugging it on a hike. One of our most memorable picnics was on a stone ledge at Hanging Rock in rural Victoria for a surprise birthday weekend away for Terence years ago. (We were film students and we adored Picnic at Hanging Rock.) We could have used this picnic backpack then. This is also one of the coolest Christmas gifts for picnic lovers. Like the basket, it has everything you need: silverware, wine glasses, napkins, plates, bottle opener, salt and pepper shakers, and there’s an insulated section to keep stuff cool, and detachable wine cooler and picnic blanket. This model also has a breadboard and cheese knife, and an extra wine holder instead of a picnic blanket, so…
This is another one of those thoughtful Christmas gifts for picnic lovers that will be truly appreciated. In Australia we always used cotton or woollen picnic blankets, but then you have to deal with dirty marks and grass stains afterwards. Locals here in Cambodia tend to use colourful picnic mats made of woven plastic, which are very nifty as they fold up into a small easy-to-carry package. This striped picnic blanket is a more sophisticated version. It’s large, so will easily fit 4-6 people, it’s made of soft acrylic so it’s comfy and cleans easily, and it’s insulated, so no more damp bottoms.
Picnic Recipe Books
These picnic recipe books are perfect Christmas gifts for picnic lovers who want to up their game. When we picnicked with friends, we’d divide duties: someone would make potato salad, someone would do coleslaw, another tabbouli, but we’d usually buy the rest: rotisserie chicken, hummus, muttabal, tarama, some French cheeses, pâté, cold cuts, crackers, baguettes. All good stuff but if you want to move from picnic novice to pro, these picnic recipe books will take you there. The Picnic: Recipes and Inspiration from Basket to Blanket is packed with everything from a devilled eggs primer and tips on how to build a beautiful charcuterie board to lawn games and classy crudités. A Year of Picnics: Recipes for Dining Well in the Great Outdoors organises picnics by season and theme. There are ideas for Waterside Picnics, Rooftop Picnics, Moving Night Picnics, and even a Sacred Tree Picnic and Falling Leaves Picnic, with recipes for scrummy treats like Cardomom, Rose Water and Berry Cake and Smoky Chai.
Mini Picnic Bag
Not all picnics have to be impeccably well-planned spreads. Some of the best picnics are spontaneous affairs. That is when the mini picnic bag comes in handy. It’s expensive, but this is one of those very special Christmas gifts for picnic lovers – or lovers. Because this is made for picnics for two, so check A Year of Picnics for romantic picnic ideas. Or, just pick up some water crackers, a creamy Camembert, and strawberries on your way to your favourite beachside or hilltop sunset-watching spot. The waxed cotton canvas bag comes with two stemless, non-breakable wine glasses, bottle stopper, corkscrew, and – most impressive of all – a cute portable, acacia wood table with folding legs. It holds two bottles. I recommend a bubbly and a white. Once you’re set up, slip the diamond ring inside, ask her to find the corkscrew, get down on your knee, and you’ll be setting a date by the time you finish the brie.
I adore this beverage bin. So much better than a plastic cooler bin – or ‘Esky’ as our compatriots in Australia, and ‘chilly bin’, as our New Zealander neighbours, call them. Also expensive, this is another one of those Christmas gifts for picnic lovers who are kind of special. I love that it collapses to next to nothing, making it so portable. Just grab a bag of ice on the way; it holds 12 litres worth. That you can see all the bottles makes the picnic even more festive – especially if they’re all bottles of bubbly.
Coleman Portable Cooler
Now this Coleman Portable Cooler is another one of those singular Christmas gifts for picnic lovers. Also a tad expensive, it’s an investment piece, because these things last forever. This is what you need when you’re not going to the nearest park, but are setting off on a drive to the beach or mountains. As kids my parents used to take us to meet up with other families for a day waterskiing, swimming and picnicking on the Hawkesbury River west of Sydney. This would have been ideal. It can hold everything (85 cans apparently) and keep it cold – the ice literally lasts for days (four, they reckon). I’ve chosen the rose pink as I think it’s pretty, but there’s mint-blue for vintage lovers and stainless steel, which never goes out of style.
Insulated Picnic Basket
If the Coleman is going to break the bank, don’t worry, I’ve got a backup: this is another one of those great Christmas gifts for picnic lovers that will get used and be appreciated, and it’s super cute and very affordable. They call it an insulated picnic basket, but I’m calling it an insulated picnic storage as we can see it’s not a basket, and is what you take alongside your basket to store your perishables. Pop a bag of ice in there – it’s insulated and waterproof – and you can keep your cold drinks, fruit, and containers of crudités, dips, cheeses, and salads nice and cool on a sunny day.