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Today’s post is sponsored by AVA Grace Vineyards. Thank you so much for supporting the brands that make Diary of a Debutante possible!
I can’t believe Kyle and I have been living in Columbia for a whole year. It all still feels so new. For being such a small town, it’s riddled with quaint little hidden gems. One of my favorite discoveries has been a 5-acre botanical garden called Shelter Gardens. Everything about it just screams outdoor oasis. Kyle’s been working really hard lately on a handful of different personal and professional projects, so I wanted to distract him for a bit with a romantic summer picnic for just the two of us. I grabbed two of my favorite bottles of AVA Grace wine, packed my picnic basket literally to the brim, and convinced him to leave work an hour early and meet me at the park.
Considering the fact that I’ve never planned one as a surprise before, it ended up being the perfect picnic date. We honestly couldn’t have asked for better scenery, and I’m so thankful that Catherine Rhodes was there to capture it all. Keep reading for a handful of romantic picnic ideas for him, plus a handy checklist for what to bring on a picnic date!
What to Pack: A Special Bottle of Wine (Or Two)
First and foremost, the art of the perfect picnic date centers around wine. Cheese and fruit were on our menu, so I wanted something crisp and light. I grabbed a bottle of AVA Grace Sauvignon Blanc and AVA Grace Chardonnay. For outdoor entertaining in the spring and summer, these two are hard to beat. The citrusy taste is so refreshing– it’s almost impossible to not feel happy and serene while you’re sipping it. Plus, I love how beautiful the bottles are. It just feels like they’re made for making memories.
Side Note: If you are packing wine, don’t pack it in your picnic basket. It’s too heavy. Use a distressed wooden crate to carry the wine bottles and glasses, and use your picnic blanket as buffer to make sure nothing breaks. Not only does this free up space in your picnic basket, it also serves as a makeshift table for holding food, wine, or flowers.
Also, try to find a picnic basket with plates and cutlery included like this one. When mulling over what to take on a picnic date, a good picnic set covers pretty much all the logistical components.
What to Pack: His Favorite Finger Foods
Once you’ve got your wine picked out, what to bring on a picnic date depends on your personal taste. As long as it’s easy to eat, you can pack sandwiches, takeout, or opt for something more simple, like fresh fruits and veggies. Kyle loves cheese (don’t we all?), so I wanted to put together an awesome cheese board with some fresh fruit to give him our version of the perfect picnic date.
When it comes to a crowd-pleasing cheese plate, I’ve literally bookmarked the “Anatomy of a Cheese Plate” chapter in Kate Spade’s All in Good Taste. I guess you could say I’ve learned from the best. Here’s everything you need to make the perfect cheese board:
- Soft and creamy cheese (like a brie or camembert)
- Firm cheese (like a cheddar or gouda)
- Hard cheese (like a parmigiano-reggiano)
- Cheese knives (one for each cheese)
- Plain bread (baguette or sourdough) and/or neutral crackers
- Savory sides (like olives, prosciutto, salami, cornichons, almonds, and/or tomato and caramelized onion jam or fig chutney)
- Sweet treats (like fig or raspberry jam, walnuts, honey or maple syrup, grapes, and/or dried or fresh fruit)
It gets hot this time of year, so fresh fruit is always a nice (and healthy) snacking option, too.
What to Pack: Mood Setters
Setting the stage is crucial for the perfect picnic date. Find a cozy spot in a quiet park or garden with very few kids or pets running around. In addition to a beautiful bouquet of flowers (which can be easily transported in your wooden crate!), you probably also want to bring some bug spray, something to play music, and some napkins or paper towels to clean up any messes. If you decide to pack champagne, you’ll also want to make sure you have an ice bucket to keep the bottle cold.
What to Pack: One Final Checklist
Planning for the perfect picnic date should be fun, not stressful. I say that because I was very stressed while planning ours. To help y’all ensure you’ve nailed what to bring on a picnic date, here’s a summary checklist:
- Picnic Basket (including plates and cutlery like this one)
- Picnic Blanket (that’s spacious and comfy like this one)
- Good Wine (AVA Grace Sauvignon Blanc and AVA Grace Chardonnay are two of my favorites!)
- Wine Glasses
- Wooden Crate (like this one for safely carrying glass)
- Easy Finger Foods (like cheese, fruit, sandwiches, or takeout)
- Fresh Flowers
- Bug Spray
- Napkins or Paper Towels
- Something to Play Music (like a phone or small speaker)
I’m a lucky girl, and it’s moments like these that make Columbia feel like home. What does your perfect picnic date look like?