Food & Entertaining - Entertaining

Plan the perfect backyard potluck picnic

Beckie Fox
Photography by
Virginia MacDonald

Fun and games, tips and tricks for easy, breezy summer entertaining

Divvy up the duties
The key to a great neighbourhood or family picnic is sharing the planning and execution. Co-ordinate who's bringing what to the potluck. Kids may like it if everyone ends up bringing a dessert, but planning ahead ensures a wide assortment of mains, sides, appetizers and drinks.

Select one family to host the event—ideally the one with the most space in the back for kids to play, adults to chat, tables for food and a barbecue to grill some simple fare. Other families can take charge of organizing activities for kids, cleaning up at the end of the day and planning evening entertainment.

It's all about the food
Traditional favourites are always crowd-pleasers. Here are a few time-saving ideas and special touches for picnic standbys:

* Add slices of fresh lemon to a pitcher of lemonade made from concentrate. Or make ice cubes with a maraschino cherry or two in each ice cube compartment. Keep small bottles of water and juice boxes chilling in a cooler outside to minimize trips into the house.

* Top store-bought chocolate chip muffins with vanilla frosting for quick cupcakes. If your picnic falls on Canada Day weekend, decorate each with small Canadian flags purchased at a dollar store.

* It wouldn't be a picnic without potato salad. Dress up a deli-made version with a chopped hard-boiled egg, diced dill pickles, thinly sliced radishes and chopped fresh parsley.

* No one can resist a homemade cookie or two—or more! Have each family bring a dozen of their family's favourite, along with photocopies of the recipe. Line up the containers on a small table for taste-testing.


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