Eight Things To Consider When Planning A Mother’s Day Picnic
By Hannah Randa
Like blossoming flowers, the outdoors is slowly coming to life after almost a year in lock-down. Our favourite restaurants and parks are providing the perfect backdrop for social interactions, as families and friends reconnect. Charred burgers and shawarma with all the fixings, fresh chicken salad, goat ‘choma’ grilled over a barbecue, ice-cold drinks and a large chees board —food just tastes better when served in the open.
And just in case you’ve forgotten, Mother’s Day is here, that’s right, this Sunday! With warmer weather and relaxed restrictions, it’ll be hard to resist the urge to dine outside. A picnic is just the perfect plan to celebrate moms and hangout with loved ones.
There are a number of things that could mess up the perfect picnic. If you are careful and conscientious, you could easily avoid common errors that can create a disaster while dinning outside. Here are some clever tips to keep in mind and how best to prepare for your next picnic.
Know your picnic site
Unless you have your own green space in the backyard, consider doing a site visit to the identified location or calling in advance to confirm things like opening hours, any fees requirements, parking availability, security and the size of the crowd that frequents the location you are gunning for.
In Nairobi, for example, parks can get jammed with people because lately there has been an increased demand for outdoor spaces. Don’t be surprised to find that some sites are being overused. Nothing kills a picnic vibe like sharing a spot with hundreds of revelers. But the most important thing in avoiding crowded or common spaces is to help protect each other from exposure to coronavirus.
Another thing you want to find out in advance is whether the picnic site has any restrictions in terms of bringing in alcohol beverages, use of plastic bottles or playing music. You might also want to find out if the location has a view to make the whole experience magical.
Always ensure you consult the weather forecasts and make your preparations with this in mind. The type of weather will influence the time you go out, they type of clothing and shoes you wear, and the typeof activities you engage in.
In addition, you might want to take into consideration special mobility needs, especially for the elderly.
Some mothers prefer settings that are more private and intimate; In that case, you could explore a neighborhood park since all you need for a picnic is sufficient space to fit a mat. You can transform the mood by streaming some forest sounds on YouTube to create an ambiance of a natural and relaxed environment.
Limit your squad
If you would like to invite others to join in this special day, it’s probably best to stick to your quar-pod - these are the people whom you are not social distancing from maybe because they are members of your immediate household or you know for sure are responding to the pandemic seriously and observe all safeguarding conditions like masks, hand-washing, and social distancing. This significantly reduces risk to you and your family.
It is also wiser to gather a limited number of people as per current Covid 19 safety recommendations but in case you have a bigger family then encourage some groups to bring their own picnic setup which will be arranged six feet apart, kind of like a picnic archipelago.
Protect your skin
Going outdoors sunscreen-free is not an option. No matter the forecast and even with a hat on, you are still going to catch some UV rays which could irritate the skin or eyes and increase the chances of getting painful sunburn, premature aging, or skin cancer. So whether you go for sun sprays, sunblock sticks, sun creams or gel just grab a bottle, throw it into your bag and remember to reapply every two hours.
In the old days, sunscreens contained para-aminobenzoic acid but newer sunscreens contain a variety of ingredients such as titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, and others. If you are trying to shop for the right sunscreen, experts recommend choosing SPF 50 or higher in form of lotions that are easier to apply and evenly distribute on the skin.
Don’t let the bugs bite
Depending on the location you choose, you might get some uninvited guests that could ruin Mother’s day. Pesky pests like ants, flies, wasps, hornets, bees, mosquitoes or stingers can break the memory of a fun picnic outing by being annoying and dangerous. Some pests are just a nuisance while others sting, bite or transfer diseases. Unfortunately, what attracts most of them is the fact that they too like cheese, crackers, fruits and wine.
The good news: there are some smart solutions to help you ward off those pesky beings. Most bugs don’t like acidic scents so consider setting up a few citrus candles or spraying essential oils that have the aroma of garlic, mint, rosemary or lemon. In the same spirit, you might want to avoid wearing strong scented fragrances, shampoos, or deodorants which can attract the bugs and the stings that follow.
Bugs are adept at tracing sugar in any food, so another trick is to avoid displaying food or sticky sweets until you are ready to plate it. At all times food should be kept in well-sealed containers or coolers.
Beware of birds
Dive-bombing birds are the most startling experiences one can have when out on a picnic. I’ll be the first one to admit that being attacked by a crow is no laughing matter (except to the persons watching the incident). Especially in the months of May and June, crows can become so territorial. Similar to our mothers, they can repetitively strike anyone that moves too close to their nest although in other instances they simply can’t resist the mouthwatering smell of ‘nyama choma’. If you notice that the location you have selected is frequented by many birds, consider bringing a big umbrella and avoid leaving meaty food uncovered.
Keep cold foods cold and cooked foods warm
To begin with, if everyone is bringing a little something to eat, it’s probably a good idea to coordinate menus beforehand to avoid having the same set of recipes. More importantly, when planning the menu, you want to go for dishes that do well outdoors such as crusty bread, salami, nuts, sandwiches, meat platters, cheese, grapes and some dips. The picnic might also be a great opportunity to order takeout from local restaurants.
The key thing here is to observe how you pack the food to reduce risks of food poisoning. You do not want to get sick with any foodborne illness. If possible, pack cold food in an insulated cooler or add ice packs and pack hot food in foil papers or food warmers to help keep all the goodies at a safe temperature. Snacks such as sandwiches can be made at the picnic site to prevent them from becoming soggy.
Remember to keep it Eco-friendly
Ensure that you encourage everyone to dispose all throwaways in the garbage cans available at the park or bring a trash bag to avoid littering and conserve the beautiful outdoor spots.
Don’t forget to pack these essentials
Remember to carry sanitizers, gloves, masks, napkins, wet wipes and plenty of water to complete your outdoor kit keeping in mind that the area may not have functioning bathrooms or running water fountains. You may also want to carry a small picnic table, foldable chairs and extra blankets.
Happy Mother’s Day!