Surfing for a Beach-Style Picnic, Where the Living Is Easy
If you've got sand, sun, and surf on your mind, but can't get to the nearest beach easily, you can still enjoy the feeling of being there. Create your own beach-style picnic with the right music, food, and props to pretend you're in a “beach blanket” movie with Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon. Here's how to spend a day at the beach far from the nearest ocean.
Create Your Own Beach
Set the mood for a beach-style picnic with some choice props. Days at the beach usually include things like umbrellas, big blankets, beach balls, chairs, towels, bags, hats, coolers, pails and shovels, and music.
Tune in some Beach Boys or other surfin' music to get in the right frame of mind. If you've got surfboards or boogie-boards, all the better! With no waves in sight, surfboards make great serving tables and backdrops.
Sand is another great feature for fun on the beach, of course. Building supply stores have clean sand for sale, and one bag will be enough to fill quite a few beach pails. Add those little shovels to the pails and set them all around your beach site. Sifting sand through your fingers and toes will help you relax and enjoy the 'beach' atmosphere you create.
Have some seashells sitting around at home? Place them on tables and in pails for a little more authenticity. Put some sand in metal buckets to support an array of candles in sea-friendly colors like blues, greens, and tans.
How about a small kiddie pool for your backyard or park beach party? Add just enough water to create a splash, or dip your hands or feet in for a refreshing break. If you're feeling energetic, cover the bottom of the pool in sand. Pull up some beach chairs, stick your feet in the water, and you've got an instant beach.
Some people's idea of a perfect beach day is sitting under an umbrella sipping a cool drink, but others like to stay active. They'll need something to do that's simple to put together.
If you're hosting the picnic in your backyard, you already know what you have for fun and games. Volleyball, Frisbees, and badminton are obvious beach favorites. A park may have things like jungle gyms, horseshoes, or walking trails. Take advantage of what's there, then gather your refreshments under beach umbrellas to cool off.
Beach Bums Get Hungry
A day at the beach, even one you created yourself, can work up a hearty appetite. Some public beaches don't allow cooking on the beach. However, you can put together a grill spot or campfire at some park facilities, or in your own backyard. This allows you to enjoy some beach standards like hot dogs, burgers, and, of course, marshmallows and S'mores.
Most folks want to keep things simple when deciding on what to bring in their beach coolers. Finger foods, pre-made salads, and sandwiches are favorites for beach time food. That doesn't mean you can't get creative with a few culinary surprises for hungry guests.
For instance, marinate some vegetables in a light dressing for an appetizer. Make some homemade dips, pate, or cocktail shrimp with hearty crackers or pita bread. Try some thin-sliced turkey with fresh vegetables like avocado, tomatoes, and cucumber, all wrapped inside Armenian flatbread for a filling dish that's easy and delicious.
Fruit salads provide ample opportunities for creativity, if you're willing to go beyond simple choices like apples and oranges. Include some blueberries, blackberries and nectarines in the mixture, and add a little fresh ginger or a squeeze of lime juice for a refreshing treat.
Have yourself a seed-spitting contest with some fresh watermelon slices, and your beach party will be a little more adventurous.
An Oasis of Drinks
Summer beach picnics call for plenty of iced tea, with a little fresh mint for sparkling refreshment. There's also fresh squeezed lemonade to bring back memories of summers past.
If you're traveling, freeze the lemonade in freezer bags, then set them in a cooler for the trip. When you reach your destination, they'll be thawed and ready to enjoy. The frozen bags also help keep other things cool along the way.
Of course, you may also want fruity mixed drinks, sodas or spirits for grownups on your beach outing. If you're considering mixed drinks of any kind, freeze the fruit drink beforehand in freezer bags, then mixing with spirits or soda when you get there to keep the whole family going strong.
Digging Some Crazy Desserts
Keep your sweet treats light and breezy. Try some simple parfait made with granola, yogurt, and your choice of fruit. Or, try some light crumb cake or dessert bread instead of sweeter, heavier pies, gelatin molds, and fudge brownies often found at picnics.
You could also freeze popsicles or ice cream any way you like. These types of treats will need to be kept well frozen before transporting. Keep them in the bottom of the cooler, and then put your sandwiches and salads on top. Wrap them in several thicknesses of newspaper for extra protection.
Another easy trick for a refreshing cold dessert at a beach picnic is to freeze fruit in the can. Pineapple and peaches are good choices. These frozen cans transport well and serve as 'ice' in coolers on the way to your picnic spot.
When you're ready to serve them, open the cans and push the semi-frozen fruit out of the can and serve in a paper funnel cup with a spoon or straw. Add a little fizzy clear cola or ginger ale for a real summertime treat.
Get in the Mood with the Right Beach Clothes
No matter where your beach party takes place, it's the clothes that bring the whole day together. Grab your swimsuit, sarong, sandals, sunglasses, and a floppy hat to assume the role of a beach-going fanatic ready for some fun in the sun!
If swimwear isn't suitable, some flowing, loose garments will do just fine. Choose some lightweight, gauzy fabrics, linen, or caftans. Set the scene for guests by digging around in your closets to find just the right shirts or pants for the day's activities.
Beach-style picnics can be as informal and fun as you want them to be, with the right setting, food, drinks, music, and clothing. Your success depends on the ability to be as free as the ocean breeze and let the mood relax your guests. The rhythm of the islands will be upon you, and the times you share will be ones to remember.