Many of us are mourning the rapidly approaching end to summer weather. Soon, our lazy afternoons will be occupied by visits to a theater or museum rather than seaside. Long walks in the sand become time on the treadmill, and novels will be read cozied up by the fireplace instead of under the warm rays. I do experience a sense of melancholy reminiscing about vacations and lazy afternoons spent on the beach. However, as the vibrant colors of summer transition to the warm, earthy tones of autumn, there’s an enchanting allure to a beach picnic during this season. For me, there’s only one solution – a fall picnic at the beach is how to say goodbye to summer.
I have magical memories from my childhood when all my family would collect for a fall picnic at the beach, our way of saying goodbye to summer. The shoreline, once bustling with sunbathers felt more intimate, as if the beach itself was sharing its secrets with us alone. The ocean, still inviting enough for a dip, had taken on a different personality for those occasions. We squealed in delight as if it belonged to only us. The joy of those shared moments are etched into my memory like the footprints left behind in the sand.
ALL IN THE FAMILY
These fall events, although different every year, were always a huge success. As I grew up, I realized what made these fall picnics at the beach so wonderful – the meticulous preparation. As an adult, I’ve been determined to carry the torch. I now make the most of the remaining warmer days, enjoying the company of family and dear friends by hosting a lavish seaside spread.
Beach picnics are pleasurable and a relaxing way to build memories and enjoy special people and a beautiful setting. Therefore, someone snapping photos from hellos to goodbyes is a must. Capture the fun of the fall picnic by the beach by taking memorable photos to share with your guests later.
WHAT A VIEW
The magnificent view obviously provides the perfect setting. Of course, we will watch the sun melt into the sparkling blue horizon. On top of that, nothing says beach picnic more than a bonfire. And of course, we can’t have a fire without offering s’mores, but we’ll get to that shortly…
DOWN TO BUSINESS
For this “foodie,” the best part of all the arrangements is creating the menu. I want delicious food that’s ready to serve when we are ready to eat, with mouths watering in anticipation. The right fare can elevate the picnic to the next level. In the past, I’ve hosted barbeque gatherings, themed dining events, and some communal pot-luck parties. Among those, one stands out as the most distinctive. As part of the invitation, I asked each of my guests to bring a dish of their choice, with only one requirement: The dish had to include something blue. Their participation obviously made things much easier for me, quite interesting to observe, and turned out absolutely hilarious and scrumptious at the same time! (Anyone that did not comply had cleanup duty.)
Because charcuterie boards are still so popular and can be made ahead of time, each course could be served in this same way. They can contain anything from hors d’oeuvres to fresh seafood to a dressy dessert display. Many such items can be found in specialty markets, so they can be full of surprises. More than just beautiful to behold, they can easily provide hours of noshing for everyone. In fact, this year’s menu might just contain several boards…
There’s another plus for using these boards for serving. The nice wooden ones can be used as trays or mini tables, stable in the sand. Pack a knife as well, just in case you need something to use as a cutting board. For example, it’s a great idea to bring along fresh watermelon, which will quickly disappear. It serves as a boost of hydration, especially for the kiddos who don’t want to interrupt their fun to eat or drink.
Now that my menu is set, I need to plan the activities so I can make a complete checklist. There are a few items that are standard for any beach outing. These picnic essentials can be easily carted from the car in my beach wagon. Once that is loaded, everything else gets placed inside, making the trek back and forth a breeze.
MADE IN THE SHADE
For my guests that do not or cannot be directly in the sun, I’ll add my canopy. And for the sand that somehow gets everywhere no matter what, I’ll pack my terrific beach towels. They’re washable, durable, and the sand slides off or filters through. Next in is the Bluetooth speaker in case someone wants to bust a move to liven things up. Toss in a frisbee, the badminton set, and a kite or two to chase so guests can work up an appetite. Sunscreen, bug spray and a first aid kit are all handy. I’ll hang the lightweight camp chairs on the wagon’s handle when we head to the shore.
After I work to curate the perfect spread, keeping everything the proper temperature is key. The cooler is filled with today’s feast, kept cold by frozen water bottles, which can be consumed throughout the day. Personally, I love to use my waterproof cooler tote. The fresh homemade lemonade has been chilled, and there’s still room for a couple bottles of wine to compliment the food.
A TISKET, A TASKET
Last, but not least, is the wicker picnic basket that I treasure. It holds some food, any necessary utensils, a tablecloth, eco-friendly cloth napkins, a corkscrew, plates, glasses, and any last-minute items. It has definitely become a staple, both for the picnic and the photos.
As well as helping unload, hubby’s main chore is setting up the canopy, so he’s made sure we have not only the lightest but also the easiest to erect. Chairs and blankets are thoughtfully arranged, inviting everyone to settle in comfortably. As we sit back, we notice that the sun’s rays are more gentle, creating a comfortable ambiance without the intensity of summer’s heat.
MY #1 GO-TO
As my guests start to arrive, I’ll have the first charcuterie boards on the table, ready for the eager tasters. Friends love my hummus, which is a slightly altered version from The Silver Palate Cookbook, so you know it’s wonderful. If time permits, I’ll also make it myself, but if rushed, Baba Ghanoush can be purchased easily. Around these two delicious dips are mounds of pita bread triangles and chips, pretzel and bagel chips, crackers, and crostini. Mixed in with those is a variety of colorful, freshly cut vegetables, artfully arranged. For the children, I’ll have a smaller board filled with cheese cubes, thinly sliced ham and turkey rollups, assorted crackers and pickle spears.
IT’S A WRAP
I chose to make what I call “seasonal” sandwiches, not only because they are easier to make, but also because they are easier to eat! No utensils needed. As activities are underway, I’ll set out a tray full of them with turkey, apple, and brie on the left and the open-faced tomato with creamy cucumber spread ones on the right. Wrapped in parchment paper, they are the ultimate “grab and go” food and I was able to use some of the last (and best) of the summer produce. They also stack easily and pair well with other foods, so it’s a win-win.)
On the other end of the table will be the striking display of Wedge Salad Skewers, a crowd favorite. I lightly drizzle the dressing over them and they’re ready. Next to those are many individual cups of fruit salad, normally filled with strawberries, blueberries, pineapple chunks, red grapes, mandarin oranges, kiwi, and possibly banana (to be added at the last minute.) In the middle of the cups is a dish of fresh Honey Lime Dressing, if desired.
THE GRAND FINALE
As many continue to gather around and enjoy the meal, laughter and conversation fill the air. The rhythmic sound of the waves serves as a soothing backdrop, creating a serene atmosphere that invites relaxation and connection for hours. The sun begins to dip lower on the horizon, casting a warm and gentle glow over the gathering. Delightful and Delectable Cheesecake Bars finish our feast.
As the afternoon wanes and the sky transforms into a canvas of pinks and purples, the bonfire is kindled. Marshmallows are skewered, and laughter ensues as they are toasted to a perfect golden brown. S’mores are assembled with care from the board, the combination of melty chocolate, gooey marshmallow, and crisp graham crackers, a nostalgic reminder of carefree days.
ALL GOOD THINGS…
With the stars starting to twinkle overhead, the fall picnic at the beach becomes a cherished memory. A glorious day, it’s been a celebration of nature’s beauty, the company of loved ones sharing a meal, and the comfort that comes with embracing the changing seasons.