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9 Budget Picnic Essentials

9 Budget Picnic Essentials

Looking for the perfect date idea but don’t have a lot to spend? Searching for a way to spend more time with your family without dining at costly restaurants? A picnic is one of the best ways to enjoy a meal with loved ones without spending a fortune. Even better, you can enjoy that meal in a scenic park, beach, or other area that inspires outdoor play and adventure.

Planning a picnic doesn’t have to be stressful or expensive. Pack these nine budget picnic essentials to create the perfect (romantic or fun) picnic environment without breaking your budget.

1. A Large Picnic Blanket

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    Your picnic blanket doesn’t have to be something that impresses fellow park-goers. It can easily be something you already have at home, such as an old blanket, a tapestry, or a sheet you no longer use. If you can’t find a blanket or sheet at home that will work, purchase one at a local thrift store and wash it before use.

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    2. A Cooler (or a Do-It-Yourself Cooler)

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      A picnic basket isn’t the most practical way of getting your picnic food and drinks to your destination. Instead of spending big bucks on a cute picnic basket, use a cooler that you already have at home. If you don’t have a cooler, you can make a temporary one by lining a large tote or plastic bin with a trash bag and placing ice packs inside.

      3. Affordable (Not Wasteful) Tableware

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        Disposable plastic tableware is an expense you don’t need to incur when planning a picnic. Disposable cutlery (and cups, plates, etc.) also create unnecessary waste. Instead, bring along reusable plastic plates, cups, and traditional cutlery from your home. Investing in a durable, reusable set of plastic tableware, which will cost about $20, can also save you from multiple purchases of disposable items if you plan to picnic often. Don’t forget to bring one sharp knife for cutting.

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        4. A Natural Bug Repellant

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          Pesky mosquitoes, ants, and other bugs can easily destroy a pleasant picnic. Most commercial bug sprays are expensive, unpleasant to smell (and touch), and can be harmful when used around foods. Items you already have around the house, like fresh-squeezed lemon and garlic cloves, can keep bugs at bay naturally. Try sprinkling cornstarch or baby powder around the perimeter of your picnic blanket to keep ants away too.

          The one-time purchase of a reusable citronella candle will also provide a pleasant picnic atmosphere while shielding you from tiny, flying pests.

          5. Affordable, Easy-to-Transport Foods

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            Aside from the company, the food is the most important part of your picnic, and it can be the most stressful part of planning. Keep in mind that meats are difficult to transport, and they are often the most costly part of the meal. Opt for cheaper alternatives, like eggs, tuna, and fresh bread, to create a delicious and affordable main course. Don’t forget to shop for in-season items, and you’ll probably be able to find fresh, budget-friendly fruits and vegetables to serve with homemade dips.

            6. Cheap (But Good) Wine

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              For many, especially romantics, wine is an essential picnic item. You don’t need to spend a fortune on a bottle that tastes good. Grocery stores are loaded with tasty wines that hover between $8 and $10. Trader Joe’s offers its famous “Two Buck Chuck,” Charles Shaw variety of wines, which can be purchased for $1.99 to $3.39. The grocery store has sold more than 600 million bottles of the stuff, so it must taste good.

              7. Reusable Water Bottles

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                By now, we all know that purchasing bottled water can be expensive and harmful to the environment. Pack one reusable water bottle, filled with a favorite drink, for each member of your picnic party. Using different colored bottles for each person can help distinguish drinks and avoid arguments among little ones.

                8. Homemade First-Aid Kit

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                  A first-aid kit is an essential part of every picnic, especially if you’ll be taking kids. That doesn’t mean you have to go purchase a costly first-aid kit from a camping supply store. The American Red Cross website offers a list of items that should be included in every first-aid kit, so you can use the items you have at home to create your own.

                  9. A Lantern or Candles

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                    The shorter days of the winter season mean you may want some light if you want to extend an evening picnic past dark. Bring candles from home to illuminate your picnic area or purchase a single camping lantern that you can use for all nighttime outdoor adventures. If you have the proper picnic supplies on hand, you’re more likely to picnic more often.

                    Featured photo credit: Michell Zappa via flickr.com

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                    Last Updated on August 20, 2018

                    35 Anniversary Ideas to Bring You Closer Together

                    35 Anniversary Ideas to Bring You Closer Together

                    Every mature relationship has had a less-than-memorable anniversary. Maybe one of you forgot, or both of you got busy with work, kids, family issues, or something else. Whatever happened, the day came and went without fanfare. And neither of you seemed to notice or much care.

                    But for the health of any relationship, it’s important to make important days feel special. Anniversaries offer the wonderful opportunity to relive beautiful memories, practice gratefulness for your partner, and to show your love and strengthen your bond. Make this year’s anniversary with your significant other something special  — one that will bring you closer together.

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                    The best way to create a memorable anniversary is to do something new and different together as a couple. Stretch yourselves a bit.

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                    While boredom can silently kill a relationship, new experiences reinforce the shared bond you already have and create strong new memories. Just think back to the most significant memories you have right now with your spouse and imagine what new ones you can create!

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                    While you enjoy your chosen anniversary activity, be sure to keep a positive attitude and make your partner happy too on that day. Leave all arguments and day to day detail behind. Just celebrate your relationship. Whether you’re going to spend the day together at home, getting away, or having a wild and crazy new experience together, you can have your best anniversary yet!

                    If You’re Staying In

                    1. Spend an evening with no technology, just the two of you and maybe a board game. It’s hard to keep ourselves away from our computers and smartphones long enough to have a meaningful conversation. Make a rule not to use your tech and you’ll rekindle your relationship!
                    2. Make wine or beer together. If you enjoy drinking together, this is a fun activity to try together. Just remember to buy the necessary equipment ahead of time.
                    3. Learn something new about each other. With an open mind, try asking some of the New York Times’ 36 questions that lead to love. They’ll help spark intimacy and will lead to some really honest moments.
                    4. Have a lazy day. Breakfasts in bed, spend all day in bed talking and napping. Follow breakfast with champagne and dessert! If you feel like getting more active, cook together or play some games. Here’re some simple breakfast ideas for you.
                      • Learn to dance at home. This is best for those active couples who work out together and also enjoy learning something new together. Just go on Youtube to find any music with dance tutorials and learn together.
                      • Visit model homes or open houses and plan your dream home.
                      • Have a special dessert – champagne and chocolate covered strawberries. Having an unusual treat makes a day feel extra special. If you want to make the dessert really special, try these tasty dessert recipes.
                      • Create a playlist of your favorite songs as a couple. Choose songs that tell your story, and songs that you bonded over throughout your relationships. Here’re some love songs ideas for your inspirations.
                        • Write your love story. Write it together or ave each of you write your own and then bring them together in an interesting, both sides of the story format.
                        • Get a fondue pot. Fondue is a fun way to enjoy melted cheeses (for savory items) and melted chocolate (for sweeter treats).
                        • Decorate! Turn your home into a dressed-up french cottage, a sophisticated restaurant, or simply with flowers. The different ambience will immediately change the feel of your home and make it feel like a staycation.
                          • Talk about the future together. It might sound simple and everyday, but imagining how you want to spend your retirement together, or planning future trips can be exciting and romantic.

                          If You Want to Get Away

                          1. Take a day trip together to your favorite spot. If you live in a city, it can be incredibly refreshing to get away for an afternoon and drink in the outdoors.
                          2. Go on a scenic drive and stop at a wine and cheese bar. Or, if you’re lucky enough to have lots of options where you live, try a brewpub. There are tons of small craft breweries with fantastic food options too.
                          3. Go camping. Relatively affordable and, if the weather’s right, beautiful and romantic.
                            • Take an overnight backpacking trip. For the more adventurous couples, backpacking is an even more intense way to challenge yourself physically while becoming one with nature.
                            • Take a wine tasting tour. If you live on the West Coast or in the Northeast, take a drive to the nearest winery. Many offer relatively inexpensive tastings and deals if you purchase a certain amount.
                            • Take a scenic train trip. Taking the train means less stress traveling: nobody has to drive, you don’t have to stop for breaks every few hours, and you can sleep if you need to!
                            • Save up for a destination vacation. What better time than your anniversary to enjoy the beach at a beautiful resort?
                            • Explore a new city. Whether you’re on a budget or have a lot saved up, you can have a great time just exploring an unfamiliar town.
                            • Rent a cabin for a weekend away, in the woods or next to a lake or ocean. If you like the outdoors but can only take so much nature, try glamping.
                              • Go on a retreat. Yoga retreats, meditation retreats, beautiful natural surroundings … they’re all the rage. Search for centeredness and calm with your partner.
                              • Spend a day at a food festival. Many cities have fun and affordable food festivals, occasionally based on a theme. Check out your town’s (or a nearby city) calendar for inspiration!

                              New & Exciting Experiences

                              1. Go spelunking. Dark, damp, and utterly exciting!
                              2. Go on a hot air balloon ride. Because the basket is relatively small, this can be a romantic and deeply personal – and yet thrilling –
                                experience.
                                • Try sky diving. If you and you S.O. are real thrill-seekers, sky diving can really push you to the edge!
                                • Explore the underwater world by snorkeling or scuba diving. This may take you far away from where you normally live and work, which is an added bonus.
                                • Experience white water rafting.
                                • Drive or hike to the highest spot nearby for a new view of the world. America has tons of beautiful mountains where challenging hikes (or drives) can deliver breathtaking views.
                                • Take a craft or cooking class. Up your craft skills or food  making skills, and enjoy something new!
                                  • Take a wine and painting class today. These classes are easily found these days and even a beginning painter can create a nice painting. Challenging but relaxing, fun, and you get to go home with some artwork!
                                  • Learn to salsa dance. Dancing is a fantastic way to actively get closer and coordinate physically with one another.
                                    • Visit a nearby festival you’ve always wanted to go to. Have fun and let go with fellow audience-members!
                                    • Spend the day at an amusement park together. Laugh and carry on like teenagers.
                                    • Meet new people! At a restaurant, concert, or class, make it a point to meet new friends. Striking up conversation with someone you don’t know – but with whom you have shared interests – can be an adventurous and rewarding experience.

                                    Whether your budget is big or small, and whether you have a little or a ton of time together, focus on each other. There are tons of options, in terms of location, level of physical activity, and cost. You can make the day special in a way that’s right for you!

                                    Featured photo credit: Photo by Taylor L. Spurgeon on Unsplash via unsplash.com

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