The Art of the Picnic: What to Bring for the Perfect Day Out

The art of picnicking has been enjoyed for centuries and it remains a beloved pastime to this day. Whether planning a romantic outing for two, a family gathering, or a scenic day out in the Scottish countryside with friends, a picnic is a wonderful way to enjoy the great outdoors while indulging in exquisite food and drink. 

To turn a basic meal into a relaxing and memorable occasion, selecting the right items and preparing them for the journey is crucial. From choosing the right foods that are easy to transport to finding the best picnic basket and accessories, we’ll share the essentials you need to take on a picnic to make the most of your al fresco dining experience.

What to bring to a picnic

Picnic food ideas

The House of Bruar is full of inspiration for picnicking and for those who cannot make it in to see us and explore our magnificent Food Hall in person, there is a wide variety of gourmet products available to order online. We spoke with Megan McAllister, our Foodhall Assistant Buyer, who has shared her recommendations for what to bring in your picnic basket.

“For casual afternoons, I’d recommend all the classics: quiches, hearty pies, and Scotch eggs. Our Scotch pies are a particular crowd favourite and are our most popular picnic food here at the House of Bruar Delicatessen,” suggests Megan. “On the other hand, special occasions call for mouth-watering treats like sliced charcuterie meats, smoked fish, and patés, as well as palate cleansers like olives and nuts.”

Main picnic food items:
  • Sandwiches
  • Quiches
  • Pies
  • Pastries
  • Pasta
  • Salads

Sweet treats:
Our luxury hampers also contain a decadent assortment of sweet and savoury delights, carefully selected for you to enjoy a taste of authentic Scottish fare. 

Picnic drink ideas

Even far from home, no lunchtime is complete without a steaming cup of tea.

Other family-friendly options include cordials and premium mixers that can be enjoyed with ice for a refreshing finish. Elderflower, peach, and raspberry are great summertime flavours; don’t forget to chill them beforehand or decant them into a flask for picnics. 

If you’re serving up for a large group of guests, a cooler is an excellent way to ensure your drinks stay at temperature.

For the adults, you may wish to indulge in an alcoholic tipple to sip in the sunshine. From a classic fruity punch to an invigorating martini, discover our top picks for summer cocktails here.

Picnic accessories

A picnic is about more than just the food; be sure to pack the right accessories to elevate your al fresco dining experience.

If you are spending a day at the races, sitting beside the river watching the world go by, or perching on a heather-clad hillside gazing out at the view, a picnic blanket provides a comfortable place to relax. A pretty tweed knit adds a stylish touch to your excursion and roll-up designs make tidying up a breeze when it comes to home time.

Durable serve ware is an excellent dining option, especially if young children are around. Melamine plates, bowls, and beakers in pretty patterns add interest to any meal. 

Searching for the perfect picnic spot may mean hiking up the hills or strolling along the beach, so a sturdy picnic tin or container will help keep your delicious treats fresher.

Top tips for picnicking


1. Look for natural shade

As inviting as idyllic, sun-soaked patches of the countryside are, they can inadvertently be the downfall of a day out. Adults, and little ones especially, may find the midday sun too strong, so picking a spot balanced with some natural shade is best.

A large, willowy tree is excellent at offering cover and adds to the picturesque setting.

2. Keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot

If you will be travelling for a few hours to reach your picnic destination, it’s crucial that you keep your food at a safe temperature. In the warmer months, food can spoil quickly when it's out of the fridge, so you must take extra precautions when preparing and packing it.

Cold items, like charcuterie meats, must be kept at a temperature of 5 degrees Celsius or below. Between 5-60 degrees is known as the ‘temperature danger zone’ and is when harmful bacteria are most likely to grow, so keeping your ingredients out of this range is essential.

Use ice packs and cool bags to transport chilled items and insulated food containers and flasks to keep hot foods piping.

3. Pack smart to avoid squashing delicate items

It would be a shame to arrive at your picnic destination only to find your delicate pastries and pies squashed under heavy food flasks and serveware. To avoid this, line the bottom of your hamper with sturdier items like tins and containers. Then, place your more fragile items on top.

4. Leave nature as you found it

The Scottish countryside is a thing to be treasured, whether you are picnicking, hiking, or simply enjoying a day out. Don’t forget to leave nature as you found it to preserve its natural beauty.

This means packing napkins and rubbish bags to collect your waste and keep your spot free from any litter. 

Our best recommendations for taking on a picnic 

1. Springtime Hamper

The contents of our Springtime Hamper have been specially selected with warm-weather entertaining in mind. Filled to the brim with artful extras that elevate any dining occasion, in this hamper you’ll find a wide range of luxury comestibles that are sure to delight the senses and tickle the palate. This includes soft cheese, smoked salmon, crackers, crisps, chocolates, shortbread, and marmalade. It’s presented in a traditional wicker hamper which is ready for you to take on your picnicking adventure.

2. Picnic Blanket

Take a touch of Scottish craftsmanship with you with this fleece picnic blanket in a green tweed pattern. Soft to the touch yet exceptionally strong, it’s ideal for laying down and providing a comfortable place to relax. When it’s time to head home, it can conveniently be rolled up for storage and the carry handle makes it easy to transport. The waterproof PVC backing makes it easy to clean too.

3. Four Person Wicker Hamper

Enjoy your picnic in true luxury with this four person wicker hamper that’s designed with everything you need for a picnic outing. The exterior of the wicker basket is expertly hand-crafted and is reinforced with leather straps and a handle. Inside, you will find plenty of dining essentials, including a set of four knives, forks and spoons, four plates, four wine glasses, a bottle opener, a picnic blanket and more. Clever storage compartments will help to keep your fresh foods safely stowed.

4. Sophie Allport Melamine Bowl
This sturdy melamine bowl is an excellent addition to any picnic, especially if you’re entertaining little ones. It’s dishwasher safe and the pretty print on the exterior adds imagination to any picnic setting. Complete this set with a matching side plate and beaker.

5. Classic Food Jar

Make sure food safety is crossed off your picnic list with this insulated food jar. Made from stainless steel and certified as BPA-free, this flask is designed to keep its contents hot for up to 15 hours or cool for 18. The insulated lid also acts as a cup for added convenience.

6. Stanley Easy Carry Cooler

Dining with a large party? This Stanley Easy Carry Cooler has a generous 21-can capacity that’s spacious enough to hold a wealth of drinks and picnic foods that you wish to keep cool. Bungee cords are intended to hold a flask in place and the double-layered insulation in the walls means that your tipple of choice will be well chilled when you indulge in a first sip. 

7. Stag Bottle Opener

Don’t let disaster strike once you reach your picnic spot and realise you have left an essential tool at home. A superb gift and must-have item for drinking on the go, this majestic bottle opener is intricately crafted into the shape of a stag’s head for a classic country feel. 

Whether you’re enjoying a lazy picnic in a national park or a barbecue closer to home, discover our guide on how to dress for al fresco dining here.