Picnic on a Budget

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I love hosting parties. I'm not great at it, but I say to myself I'm still learning and will get better with time. A few weeks ago, my boyfriend and I had a picnic in Central Park- it was a great success and we did it for pretty cheap. Here's some tips if you're looking to throw one yourself! 

People & Invitation: We invited our friends in the NYC area, about 80 in total, 40 RSVPed yes, and at least 50 people showed up. I used Paperless Post to send the invitation 3 weeks before. We asked everyone to bring a beverage. I've found that 3 hours is a good amount of time to have a party- a lot of people usually don't have stamina for 4 hours, and 2 hours isn't really enough! We also got 3 red & white checkered (of course) picnic blankets. A good idea would be to bring a few balloons as well so people can find you. 

Food: We just had the basics. We also brought 100 small plastic plates and napkins. Here's a list of the food we brought:

  • 2 big bags tortilla chips (+ 1 big bowl if you prefer to eat out of bowls instead of bags!)
  • 3 containers salsa (+ 3 spoons) 
  • 2 big bags pretzels (+ 1 big bowl) 
  • 2 big bags baby carrots (+ 1 platter)
  • 2 big containers hummus (+ 2 spoons)

I also recommend bringing at least 1 roll of paper towels and a few large ziplock baggies for new & used spoons.

Another must-have is trash bags. I tried labeling mine "recycle" and "trash" but the labels didn't stick on too well. If you guys have better ideas for this let me know! 

My boyfriend and I also brought 2 coolers for drinks & the perishable food we weren't immediately using and cups. I brought 2 sharpies as well so people can write their names on their cups (I'm a slight germaphobe). 

Activities: We brought a number of games as well - including: 

  • A football 
  • Croquet 
  • 2 decks of cards 

Timeline

  • 3-4 weeks before: send out invitations
  • 2 weeks before: buy non-perishable items you need, e.g. coolers, picnic blankets, sharpies, games
  • 1-3 days before: buy food items you need, e.g. carrots, hummus, balloons (you can get helium-filled balloons at drugstores like CVS) 
  • Day of: Our party started at 3pm, and we got to Central Park at 1pm. It was already pretty difficult to find a shady spot, so I would recommend getting there earlier, probably around 12pm. My boyfriend went to fill the coolers with ice (Rite Aid and probably other drugstores have ice) once we got to the Park. 

All in all, it was a TON of fun and we ended up staying at the park until 10pm. Click here to see what items I bought and recommend for your picnic!