Patricia Noonan presents her must haves for a romantic al fresco lunch…

Want to surprise your sweetie with a picnic outing? Spring and summer are great seasons for picnics, especially of the romantic variety. But make sure that, before you’ve even begun planning all the food and drink to bring, you’ve got all the right accessories to make your lunch date attractive to more than a couple of ants! If you don’t have a fully-loaded picnic basket or backpack, see the check list below to make sure you have everything needed to create a picture-perfect picnic.

Picnic basket / backpack
While a wicker basket lends a romantic touch, other carryalls can work, as well. If you are planning to picnic a short bike ride from home, consider using a backpack for all the utensils you will need. There are all kinds available online, but the complete deal that has everything you would need is one I saw at Lee Valley Tools.

Wine glasses / glassware
The best type of glassware is acrylic or plastic, and re-usable, as there is no concern about breakage. That’s what makes them less troublesome to transport. Even if you aren’t imbibing, wine glasses lend a romantic touch to the simplest sparkling water and other beverages. They’re also best to keep picnic grounds and green spaces as pristine as they can be, after you’ve finished your romantic excursion.

Just in case you’ve forgotten to purchase a screw cap bottle of wine and end up with a cork enclosed bottle, it’s always handy to have a ‘waiter’s friend’ corkscrew. This type of corkscrew has a built-in bottle opener, too. They’re also handy if you happen to be trying some of the latest non-alcoholic specialty drinks or artisanal sodas that require a bottle opener!

Reusable lightweight tableware
If you have paper plates, that’s nice, but hardly romantic. Lightweight reusable plastic plates are easy to transport, especially if you are hiking into a more secluded park-like setting.

Even if your picnic is something as simple as bread, cheese, cold cuts and salad, you need to remember that cutlery is essential. Some picnic sets come with plastic flatware, but for a classier outing, opt for stainless steel flatware. It’s light enough to include.

Napkins and tablecloth
Napkins and tablecloths are much more civilized than paper, and yes, keeping that commitment to minimizing our carbon footprint is a cinch by using fun cotton prints that will make your picnic as gorgeous as a beautiful day. They can be rolled up and packed easily.

If your picnic location doesn’t have a table, remember to pack a blanket. Some of the latest features in picnic and beach blankets are made with such useful details as a water-resistant vinyl side, perfect if the ground or grass has some slight dampness. Check out the Outbound Picnic & Beach Blanket  for $19.99 at Canadian Tire.