Enjoying a Relaxing Evening Under the Stars at a Moonlight Picnic
Lots of picnics take place in the sunshine, but it's not a requirement. There are many reasons for hosting a picnic at night. Maybe this is the time you want to eat with someone special. You might want to enjoy the full moon as a backdrop for your special meal.
Maybe the heat of the day is too intense to relax comfortably outdoors. If the night time is the right time for your plans, you can create a picnic that matches the evening mood and setting you have in mind.
If the weather is right in your part of the world, the evening may be comfortable or even a little chilly. A moonlight picnic may require a few special accessories and a little different menu than a daytime event. Read on to learn some tips on creating a great picnic under the stars.
Setting the Stage for a Moonlight Picnic
A full moon and a clear, starry sky provide a great backdrop for an intimate picnic at night. However, you'll want to keep some necessities in mind to keep you and your guests comfortable.
You can start by creating a candlelit walkway that leads to your picnic spot. Fill some sturdy metal pails with sand, then place a larger pillar candle in each one. Light them before your guests arrive, to ensure them a clear path to your picnic spot, particularly if they're unfamiliar with the area.
If the night is clear with a big full moon, there will be some additional lighting to enjoy, but not enough to enjoy a meal with. Groups of candles strategically placed in the area will ensure the spot you choose is lit well enough to see what you're eating. A lantern will be a handy accessory for grilling serving food.
Dew on the grass may prevent you from laying blankets down, so chairs and tables may be the better choice at your location. Whatever you decide, bring extra blankets in case the temperature drops as the night wears on. This ensures your guests will stay comfortable enough all night long.
You'll also want to plan your menu according to the cooking facilities available. Arranging food and utensils early will prevent you from digging around in the dark later on. It helps to bring smaller, separate coolers for this purpose, rather than one with everything thrown together inside.
Moonlight picnics are a great opportunity to study the stars, particularly if you bring a telescope and a map of the stars. Many cell phones now have applications for stargazing, so bring them along for a lesson in astronomy. Nighttime also inspires stories and songs among your guests, especially if there's a musician in your ranks.
Wherever campfires are possible, utilize them to enhance the mood of the evening. Keep them small to preserve the ambiance of the moon and stars. Let the fire slowly fade at least one or two hours before you're ready to go, then pour some water over the logs and shovel sand over the top.
Let's explore the kind of food that's perfect for a picnic by moonlight.
Moonlight Picnic Fare
Keeping the food at a moonlight picnic ultra simple is the best solution, especially if you're concerned about 'polluting' the dark with lots of candles or lanterns. Thus, finger food is a great idea if you'd rather not struggle with utensils in the dark.
This makes things like roll-ups and pinwheels excellent choices as a main dish. Using small tortillas filled with fresh asparagus along with slices of ham and smoked provolone cheese is one delicious idea. Roll a couple tortillas for each guest up into a cigar shape, then wrap them tightly in plastic wrap. These are easy to serve and eat, and you don't even need dishes.
Pinwheels are made in a similar fashion, just cut up into bite sized pieces. Spread out a large tortilla and coat with a mixture of cream cheese, flaked salmon, chives, and chopped cucumbers. Roll these tightly in plastic and refrigerate them for at least an hour. Cut into discs and lay out on a large tray for serving. Cover them well and transport to your picnic for a portable feast everyone will love.
If you still want to fire up a grill close by, choose foods that are easy to cook. Take chicken breasts and thighs and cut them into strips, then marinate or coat them with some favorite toppings. Grill a few minutes for marks, then flip over and grill until cooked completely. Boneless chicken strips prepared this way cuts down on waste and makes for an easy clean-up afterwards.
A few other grilled favorites include calzones and burritos. You can wrap them ahead of time, then grill on site until toasty brown on all sides. A grilling tray comes in handy to keep foods from falling through the grates and eliminate the need to clean the grates, especially when using public grills.
Even certain salads serve as finger food. Use Romaine lettuce leaves to wrap tuna, chicken, or green salads. If you bring pasta or potato salad along, put them in individual paper bowls for a simple serving solution. Wrap the fork right in as well, then just pass them out when you get there.
Picnic desserts are just as easy to plan for. With a campfire, you can make S'mores by bringing graham crackers, chocolate bars, and marshmallows along. No campfire? No sweat; brownies or cookies make great snacks as well. Serving whole pies can be a challenge, but individual pocket-pies are fun to make and fun to eat, too.
You'll probably want some warm beverages on hand to take the chill from the evening air. Apple cider, mulled wine, or hot chocolate makes for a cozy moonlit sip beneath the stars. It's best to mix these up ahead of time and store in thermoses until you're ready to serve. There are also 'hot drink approved' paper cups you can warm close to your campfire. Careful planning with utensils makes cleaning up in the dark much easier, so carry along only what you think you'll need.
You may be in love with the moonlight. You may be an avid stargazer looking for a reason to stay out at night. Nighttime sounds may be relaxing, or you might just prefer to eat late once in awhile. Whatever the reason, a moonlight picnic is a delightful setting for inviting some night-owl friends along to enjoy food and fun 'after hours.'