Holiday Manners: Packing the Perfect Picnic

We’re getting ready for a wonderful 4th of July weekend here at The Protocol School of Texas and have some etiquette tips to share as you prepare to celebrate another great 4th with family and friends.  First, we’d like to congratulate Xochi W. of Portland, Oregon.  Xochi is our “Patriotic Picnic” sweepstakes winner and will be receiving an Eco Picnic basket from valued at $189! Congrats, Xochi!”

What’s the secret to a great 4th of July picnic?  Planning…it’s all about bringing everything you need for a great, leisurely meal under sunny, blue skies.


Packing the Perfect Picnic:

  1. Start with a beautiful picnic basket. I prefer an eco-friendly wicker basket. Take a look at this one from
  2. Bring a nice, comfortable blanket. One that doesn’t make you sweat or itch and also, has no resemblance to your bedspread.
  3. Add a selection of eating utensils, plates (paper or sturdy melamine are ideal) and decorative napkins. I like to visit tag sales to find unique linen napkins that are a nice treat for a summer picnic but that I won’t fret over when my famous BBQ sauce stains them. Bring a few more napkins than you think you’ll need and a roll of paper towels for big spills.
  4. Load a cooler with crushed ice and lots and lots of drinks, including plenty of water. I make a special trip to buy ice from my local Sonic Drive-In because I love those tiny little chips of crushed ice.
  5. Pack your food. Pre-make sandwiches or bring supplies to build your own, such as a loaf of French bread, meats, cheeses and various spreads (I serve mayonnaise and mustard in individual jelly jars with a plastic fork wrapped in twine).
  6. Add in the sides. Fruit, washed and ready to eat; cheese and crackers; homemade pickles and olives; oven roasted chips or store bought; assorted sweets; and anything else delicious that you can easily eat with your hands while you’re seated on the ground.
  7. If you’re pairing your picnic with wine, invest in some plastic wine glasses. It adds a nice touch of elegance and indulgence to your picnic fare with no worries about broken glassware.
  8. Don’t forget the essentials. Have handy wipes and hand sanitizer within easy reach for tidying up before you eat. Be sure to bring bags to pack up garbage and recyclables. Plastic wrap and foil are always needed for the leftovers after the picnic feast. Also remember the sunscreen, bug spray, bandages and other simple first aid supplies.
  9. Make a plan for shade. If you’re part of a large group and have planned well in advance, you may have been lucky enough to have scored your own pavilion. Otherwise, a portable tent or other kind of covering will help you avoid broiling in the sun. Even simple umbrellas to shield your body and eyes from the broiling rays will be a welcome addition to your picnic.
  10. Prepare for company. If you’re going with a significant other or other family members, bring along a few extra soft blankets, extra lawn chairs and enough toys to go around for the kids – a Frisbee, jump rope, soccer ball and portable goals, whiffle bat and ball, even bubble-blowing supplies will keep the young happy and busy.
  11. And, last but not least, don’t forget your pooch. If you are bringing Fido to the 4th of July picnic, remember water and a portable water dish, a leash, dog food and treats, and of course, cleanup bags for your pooch’s mess.

With a little advance planning, this 4th of July picnic can be one of your best ever.



Diane Gottsman

Diane Gottsman is a national etiquette expert and modern manners professional, sought out industry leader, television personality, accomplished speaker, Huffington Post blogger, author, and the owner of The Protocol School of Texas, a company specializing in executive leadership and etiquette training. Diane is routinely quoted in national and international media including The New York Times, The BBC, CNN, Bloomberg Business Week, Kiplinger, Huffington Post Canada, U.S. News and World Report, and Forbes. She is the resident etiquette expert for two popular morning talk shows, SA Living and Good Day Austin. She has been seen on The TODAY Show, HLN Headline News, WGN Chicago, and CBS Sunday Morning. Her clients range from university students to Fortune 500 companies and her workshops cover topics ranging from tattoos in the workplace to technology at the dinner table and the proper use of social media.

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