As the summer winds down, picnics are the perfect way for corporate teams to enjoy the warm weather that continues over the coming weeks.
There are many ways to incorporate picnics into events, both large and small. Picnics can be used to
- provide a change of scenery for lunch
- perk participants up during breaks
- speed up meal service even if the event is indoors
- serve afternoon tea in an outdoor setting
- convey elegant summer event themes
- offer something really different for outdoor galas
Picnics don't have to be pedestrian. They are often used at polo events and the baskets are filled with gourmet treats, crystal, china, silverware, wine, or champagne.
The UK has more of a tradition of gourmet picnics than we do in North America but it is still possible to find them.
When I attended The Tournament of Champions equestrian event north of Toronto a few years ago, a gourmet dinner including wine was served in picnic hampers while guests watched show jumping from the VIP boxes. The plates, cutlery and glasses were washed and the hamper was returned to each box towards the end of the evening. The element of surprise was that, in each box, the person who had travelled the furthest to get to the event took the hamper home as a gift.
The Daily Mirror recently did a feature about the high-end hampers available in the UK. They included the £2,950 Aston Martin picnic hamper with china, a Scottish lambswool rug, Irish damask linen tablecloth, and stainless steel salt and pepper mills.
Yet, one doesn't have to break the bank to find luxury picnic hampers. The adorable hamper by CathKidston (pictured at the top of the page) retails for under US$50.
Here are some tips for selecting picnic hampers.
If your group is large or you don't have the resources to pull picnic fare together on your own, in the UK, Corrigan’s Mayfair, which was also included in the The Daily Mirror feature, offers gourmet cuisine, a luxury hamper and a butler for £1,000.
Companies like Cheryl's Gourmet Pantry in Victoria, BC, provide beautiful gourmet picnics for events more affordably. They come complete with hampers table cloths & cloth napkins, glasses and wine openers, cutlery, and fresh flowers..
Menus range from light fare like smoked salmon, baguettes and green salad to grilled lemon Herb chicken breasts, grilled striploin of beef with roasted garlic mash, and crispy homemade fried chicken. The hampers are returned at the end of the event
Since 1991, The Epicurian in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario has offered delicious gourmet picnic menus. Bring your own hamper.