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Picnic Chic

Accessorizing your summer dining.

With the warm weather finally approaching, all thoughts turn to summer and outdoor living.  Alfresco dining is a love for almost anyone, but especially us Midwesterners that only get to enjoy it a few months of the year.  Here in Chicago, once the snow melts and the temperature rises, we begin pulling out the patio furniture and selecting our picnic gear.  But don’t bring out that same old boring outdoor accessories, or all that disposable plastic and paper, eek!  There are plenty of chic, fun, and eco friendly options for your outdoor eating adventures.

Putting together the perfect picnic set should be simple, easy, and fun.  Whether you are collecting a set for enjoying a picnic and concert in the park, or just to enjoy a meal on your patio, there are tons of fun colorful options.  You will only need a few basics, but make sure they are all made of sturdy plastics.  You don’t want a shattered glass to put a stop to your party and if you are toting your goodies to a pool or beach, most of them forbid glass entirely.

Here is your shopping list…plates, silverware, glasses (tumblers and wine glasses), and cloth napkins. 

Now onto where to shop.  So many retailers are making gorgeous picnic sets, so stop by your favorite shop for their summer collection.  I love the Martha Stewart line by Macys for fun patterns and bold colors.  You can even purchase a ready to go picnic set complete with a corkscrew for $75.   But if you are feeling creative, piece together your own set from all over.  I plastic tumblers in bright colors like these by Elizabeth Bauer, $14 each, as seen in Real Simple.  CB2, Alessi, and Bloomingdales Home Store are all also  great places to shop for your own unique picnic wear.  Having your party closer to home?  If you are setting up your tables in the grassy backyard, it is okay to opt for real dishes.  Check local thrift and vintage stores for fun, retro patterns.  And don’t be afraid to mix it up.  Create backyard chic with mixed china patterns. 

Another essential item if you are taking all your goodies to the park?  A wine stake set.  These little guys are essential!  Make sure your stemware stays upright with these sets of metal stakes that hold your wine glasses and one for your wine bottle.   Available for around $20 for a three piece set from almost any wine shop or big box store like Bed, Bath, and Beyond.  The set shown above is available for $22.99 from Wine Vine Imports.

Most importantly, don’t stress.  Summer dinning should be fun and stress free.  No matter where you purchase your picnic pieces from whether in a pre-made set of mix and matched chic from the local Goodwill, just add a bottle of wine, some yummy outdoor snacks, and a bunch of friends…and you have the recipe for a great summer evening, which after all, if what alfresco dinning is all about!