Entertaining is one of my absolute favourite things to do, especially in the summertime when you can take it to a whole new level by dining al fresco. I’ve just been dying to get outside for a picnic, and the PC Insiders Collection for summer recently gave me the perfect excuse!
You might recall that I used the PC Insiders Collection during the holidays last year to put together this Easy Holiday Entertaining Guide. So, I’m super happy to team up with President’s Choice again to showcase all the goodies they have for this summer! Just in time for Canada Day long weekend, I’ve put together another entertaining guide on how to throw the perfect picnic in the park. It includes everything from the theme and décor, to location, to easy dishes that won’t require you to be in the kitchen for hours to prepare!
The Theme & Décor
There are so many ways you can host a picnic, whether it’s a casual picnic for two with a blanket and basket, or a larger group affair. For this picnic, I invited my good friends, Laura and Soheila, to join me, and decided to make it a fun girls’ day!
I always like to pick a theme for my parties, which is a nice way to tie everything together. Once you’ve picked your theme, you’ll want to ensure that your décor, food, and extra little touches all complement it. Since I wanted to make our girls’ picnic a bit more elegant, I decided on an elevated Bohemian theme, including linens, burlap, twine, touches of gold and lots of beautiful flowers and greenery!
As with planning any type of party, it’s always the little details that matter most. Adding small touches throughout not only makes your party your own, but is also a definite way to impress!
I dressed up a park table and bench for my perfect picnic in the park. So that guests could be more comfortable, I put folded blankets on the benches. For my table setting, on top of a basic white tablecloth, I added a burlap table runner. The addition of the runner really elevated the tablescape and fit my Bohemian theme. I added a few pieces Italian Ruskus to the middle of the table, which is one of my favourite types of greenery to use to create an economical tablescape. Lastly, I added a centrepiece of bright pink peonies, white roses and eucalyptus, which I had made for me at St. Lawrence Market.
Instead of using paper plates and plastic cutlery, I opted for more elegant white plates and gold cutlery. I also used white linen, instead of paper napkins, which I added a few sprigs of lavender on top of. Finally, I tied twine around some mason jars and added some gold and white paper straws.
In terms of location, it’s always best to plan ahead and arrive early. Do a bit of research to find out about the opening and closing hours of your location, to ensure your location is accessible, has available parking etc. I love Ashbridges Bay in Toronto because there is ample green space, it has picnic tables, and there is a boardwalk, bike trail, and beach all on-site. Tip: many of Toronto’s parks and green spaces require permits (often for a small fee), depending on the size of your group and whether you want to serve alcohol. So, you’ll want to check the City of Toronto website in advance of your picnic to see if a permit is required.
Food & Drink
The products I used for my perfect picnic in the park were almost exclusively all from the PC Insiders Collection for summer, which I picked up from Loblaws. I also picked up a few other PC products to round out my perfect picnic in the park menu. The PC Insiders Collection for summer has pretty much everything you need to throw a party outdoors – whether you’re interested in patio dining, barbecuing or a picnic. There is such a variety to choose from, so I was able to get loads of inspiration for my menu! The products are perfect for a grab-and-go picnic or if you want to put something together more elaborate, like I did here. Dining al fresco is an absolute must this summer, and the PC Insiders Collection makes that totally easy for you!
What I also love about the PC Insiders Collection is that it includes home products too, like this PC Infusion Pitcher. I used it to infuse some of the PC Organics Maple Water with fresh lemon and lime slices, which was an extra refreshing start to our picnic in the park!
For my appies, I spread some PC Soft Unripened Goat’s Milk Cheese on Triscuits, and then topped with fresh chives, and slices of jalapeno and PC Axiany Cherry Tomatoes. For my protein, I used the PC Garlic & Herb Grilling Raw Butterflied Shrimp, which I added lemon slices and fresh parsley to, and the Dry-Rubbed Hardwood-Smoked Chicken Wings, which I glazed with PC 100% Pure Maple Syrup and hoisin sauce and then sprinkled with black and white sesame seeds when they came out of the oven. For a side salad, I mixed PC Organic Field greens together with PC Crumbled Goat Cheese in a homemade balsamic vinaigrette.
My pièces de résistance and things I’m most proud of for my perfect picnic in the park were these Vietnamese Banh mi sandwiches. I wrapped them up ever so cutely with parchment paper tied with twine! I also made my own sriracha mayo and pickled my own veg (radishes, carrots and red onion). I was so pleased with how these Banh mi sandwiches turned out (truth be told, this was my first time making them, haha). That being said, I can’t take all the credit, because the PC Asian Spiced Angus Roast Beef made my job super simple! Since it’s already pre-seasoned with star anise, cloves, Chinese cinnamon, black pepper and fennel, AND pre-cooked, all I had to do was remove from the packaging and slice!
So, if you ever want to throw the perfect picnic in the park, just follow this guide and I promise, you’ll be feeling like a regular Martha Stewart in no time!
*This post was done in partnership with President’s Choice, but as always, all opinions are 100% my own.
Photography by: Laura Clarke Photos
Creative direction, styling, and food by: Yours Truly