4 Easy Tips for the Best Neighborhood Picnic

Get When we think summer, we think spending time with friends and family doing fun things. One of my favorite things to do is to have a neighborhood picnic!

Having a neighborhood gathering, such as a picnic, is a perfect way to get to know the people who live around you.  It helps to create a bond with each other.  Plus, knowing the people around you will help in times of difficulty.  You have someone you can reach out to.

group of neighbors sitting at an outdoor table enjoying a neighborhood picnic

Growing up, my parents hosted our neighborhood picnic every year.  Daddy grilled hamburgers and hot dogs.  The other families brought the ‘fixins’, sides, salads and desserts. 

And, of course, there was always a tub full of homemade ice cream!  At first, it was a hand-cranked version, and everyone had their turn.  Later, Daddy splurged on an electric one

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How to Host a Picnic

As with most group gatherings, hosting a picnic is as easy as setting a date, and determining who will bring what.  It might help to keep a list, so too many duplications aren’t made. Be sure to set the date well in advance to give folks time to plan. If necessary, check with a few key neighbors to find the best time.

If you are the host, you may want to offer providing the main course.  In my parents’ case, they usually bought a half a cow about a month before.  They used the hamburger that came with it as our family’s contribution. Plus, we bought the charcoal for the grill.

You may not already have enough chairs and picnic tables for everyone, but ask the neighbors to loan you theirs.  The day before, help them haul them to your backyard.  Or, just make it a BYOC (bring your own chair) event.

Paper plates, cups, and plastic utensils in yellow, red, orange and pink

Picnic Supplies

This list is also fairly short.  Here is a list of primary supplies.  Yours may be a bit different, but these are the basics:

  • Plates
  • Napkins
  • Eating Utensils
  • Serving Utensils
  • Bowls (for the ice cream)
  • Cups
  • Tablecloths
  • Napkins

Some of your neighbors may not cook, so this gives them a way to contribute.  Have them choose what they will bring from the list, and as the host, supply the rest.

picnic basket on a blue and white check cloth; plate of fried chicken, roll and coleslaw, vase filled with sunflowers

Food for a Picnic

Determine your menu ahead of time.  Just keep it as simple as possible.  We did hamburgers and hot dogs. Fried chicken is also a good option. Or, you can make it a pot luck meal – what ever works best for everyone.

The other neighbors brought potato and pasta salads, a relish tray, and condiments.

You can also do a Sub Sandwich main dish.  Have each neighbor bring one of the ingredients, such as meat, lettuce, tomato, onion, cheese, etc.  Cold salads, a condiment platter (pickles, olives, etc.) and chips make perfect sides for this.

a slice of Chocolate Sheet Cake on a white plate

And don’t forget the desserts!  It almost seems traditional to bring a chocolate cake.  But also keep in mind things that can be eaten without a fork – cookies, brownies, hand pies and others.

If at all possible, be sure to make your own ice cream.  This is part of the fun of a neighborhood picnic!

In order to please everyone, make a simple vanilla ice cream.  And then offer a selection of toppings:

  • Fresh Fruit – chopped peaches, strawberries, blueberries, etc.
  • Broken Candy Bars – Snickers, Nestle Crunch, Butterfinger
  • M&M’s
  • Skittles
  • Sprinkles
  • Chocolate, Caramel, Strawberry Sauces
  • Chopped Nuts
  • Whipped Cream
  • Maraschino Cherries

two boys and two girls pulling on one end of a rope in a game of Tug 'O War


Entertaining guests at a neighborhood picnic is the easiest thing to do.  Most adults just like being able to visit and catch up with one another.

If it is something you already love to do as a group, set up a separate table for games.  This can be cards, dominoes, or a checkerboard. 

For the kids, most of them just want to ‘invent’ their own games.  We always played Freeze Tag, Hide-n-Seek, or Dodge Ball. 

an orange croquet ball, mallet, and wick on a green lawn

You can set up a croquet course, a volleyball net or a something similar.  If you are a bit more ambitious, you can make a Bean Bag Toss, using baskets and handmade bean bags.

Looking for a fun way to gather with the neighbors? Host a neighborhood picnic.  It is fun for the adults, and the children as well!

Need a good ice cream recipe?  Look no further.  Try this simple Vanilla ice cream.  All you have left to do is grab the toppings and a spoon!

Relax & Enjoy!

picnic table filled with a jar of yellow daffodils, dishes of fruit, salads, fried chicken, sandwiches, and more

Take a break, relax, and enjoy a few more posts before you head back out into the summer heat! Here are a few posts designed to help you escape the hot temperatures. Find posts on food, activities, and more to give you a perfect excuse to curl up in a chair, drink a glass of ice cold lemonade and reflect!


Be Cool! Simple Ways to Beat the Heat

How to Make Summer Delicious with Ice Cream

Chill Out! How to Make Homemade Popsicles

Write Your Story

The Enchantment of Afternoon Tea

Your Beautiful Life

A Handmade Home

The Homemaker’s Resume

The 8 Facets of Homemaking

Julie Murphree is a blogger, newspaper columnist, and speaker on all things ‘Living a Simple Life on the Farm’. She is the author of \\\'The Farm Wife – Living a Simple Life on the Farm. She and her husband have 60 acres in NW Louisiana where they actively work on living as sustainable as possible.

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