Everyone loves to spend time with people they love & who make them feel good & appreciated but we can’t always think of fun things to do, it doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming when it comes to planning.
I can imagine that going outside for a picnic is the last thing on your mind but bear with me. Imagine being with people or even just 1 person whom you love & that brings you joy, makes you laugh & feel special, now just grab some pre-prepared items & take yourselves off to your favourite cheap or free nature filled location (mine would be Beacon Hill, Bradgate Park, a kids park [with the kids obviously] or even just an empty field) to enjoy the fresh air & company. Each person to make a dish to take on the picnic. Fill your cars (car share where possible) with loved ones, blankets & making sure that everyone is properly wrapped up, it’s better to go wearing too many layers than not enough!
An easy picnic idea –
Pasta, tuna, sweetcorn & sauce/dressing of choice – bam – pasta salad, the pasta possibilities are cheap & endless.
Morning picnic idea –
Again, fill your cars (again, car share where possible) with loved ones, blankets & making sure that everyone is properly wrapped up, it’s better to go wearing too many layers than not enough. Take flasks of hot tea/coffee/hot chocolate (whatever your morning tipple), some breakfast items (see below for some ideas) & go up to the highest cheap or even free nature peak in your area (mine would be Beacon Hill) enjoy the sunrise. With it being Winter in the Uk, the sun rises later at this time of year & it doesn’t mean getting up at the crack of dawn! Also, if everyone brings a dish, it’d be even easier.
Breakfast picnic ideas –
- Overnight oats – made a day or two before & can be topped with whatever you want.
- Freshly made hot porridge put into food flasks, don’t forget to pack toppings.
- Pancakes – they don’t have to be eaten hot & you can have savoury or sweet toppings. Some recipes can even be made ahead & put in the freezer, just remember to take them out of the freezer a day or two before.
- Bacon butties wrapped up in foil & put in an insulated bag (don’t forget the sauce).
- Plain & simple cereal – you can carry them in a lidded container & milk/yoghurt can be transported in anything that’s safely sealed, no-one wants to worry about spilt milk & it doesn’t need to be put into a flask – let’s face it, over here it’s cold enough to not worry about the milk warming up!
- Breakfast muffins – can be made up to 2 days before.
I don’t know why but I think there’s something romantic about sitting up Beacon Hill watching the sunrise with people I love, listening to child chatter & eating a hot bowl of porridge & just think of the pics you’d get, let alone the memories you’re making.
Games night –
There’s not many people who don’t love a board game. Just remember that depending on the chosen game will depend on the duration of the fun, for example – a game of Cluedo, doesn’t take that long at all & a game of Payday will not take much longer than that (depending on how many months you choose to play) but Monopoly on the other hand, will give you hours of fun. If Monopoly is your game of choice, you might want to start it in the early afternoon (around 3pm) to give everyone a chance to enjoy it without worrying about the time! It doesn’t have to be a board game, I just chose that because that’s what me & Richard play when we have a games night.
Food ideas –
- Everyone brings along a snack, unless of course, you’re playing Monopoly cause then you’ll likely need a 5 course banquet to keep you going for the length of time it takes to play it (hehe).
The snack options could be –
- Crisps & dips
- Mixed nuts & fruit
- A few different cheeses & a few packets of crackers or a mixed box of crackers – HURAY – we have a cheese board. It’s not long after the festive season & I know we still have crackers in our cupboard. Perfect for the more sophisticated palate like mine (as if, that made me giggle), seriously though, who don’t like a cheese board (unless you have severe allergies to dairy, luckily, I can still have extra mature cheddar & any dairy free cheese).
- Crudités & dips
Family night –
Everyone take a dish (easy & cheap).
No TV, just company, laughs, chattin & maybe some good home cooked wholesome food
Food ideas –
A few of us go round to visit my mum & dad on a Wednesday evening & I sometimes take round a homemade chicken stew.
The food choices could be anything your heart desires –
- What about that mince you have in your freezer & it could be any mince (I tend to use pork), you could mix that with some herbs, tinned tomatoes, passata, chopped onion & mushrooms & add it to some cooked pasta (mmmmmm). Someone could even bring the garlic bread if you all fancy that with it.
- Homemade soup – chuck lots of veg into a pan with stock of your own choosing, maybe even add in some mixed herbs or thyme & some pearl barley, cook until soft & tender, then either leave it chunky or blend it down with a hand blender.
You could even meet up round a members house for breakfast, again, everyone chip in a dish to nom, nom, nom.
Film night –
Cheesy chick flicks, a soppy romance, horror spoofs (or horrors, if you’re that way inclined – I’m DEFINITELY NOT!), a comedy (who don’t love a film with Jim Carey in it??) or, for something different & depending on the company, how about a period drama (& I don’t mean Call The Midwife, that’s NOT a period drama – still can’t believe they won that category!) like Poldark, Pride & Prejudice or Sense & Sensibility (I swear I once lived in one of those eras!). You could even make this a fortnight or monthly thing & pick a box set to go through, watching 1 or 2 a night, or 3 if you have time & the inclination (pick a few & have a vote) – the box sets I own are – Harry Potter, Twilight (either would get my vote), there’s also Gavin & Stacey, Royal Family, Two Pints of Lager & a Packet of Crisps, The Big Bang Theory, Soldier Soldier, Lord of the Rings, Vicar of Dibley, Lion King, The Omen. I’m sure I’ve got more but I think that’s enough to give you an idea.
An easy film night snacks idea –
If there are kiddies with you, they’ll love this – Popcorn, chocolate powder, marshmallows, cream (optional) & milk of choice – perfect choice for a films night & if you get the proper popcorn & make it yourself on the stove the kiddies will love listening to it popping & it’ll fill your house with gorgeous aromas of freshly popped popcorn………….mmmmmmmmmmm………..nom nom nom!
Girls night –
How about a night with the girls?? When that phrase is 1st heard, we tend to think of pubs, music, dancing, alcohol, late nights followed by hangovers but that’s not what I’m meaning here, I’m still talking laughs, girlie chatter, catch ups, alcohol can still be had but you don’t need to give yourself a hangover the next day! Plus, who says you have to go out to enjoy good music & dancing, you have a radio/cd player/docking station etc, music channels on the TV, not to mention the internet to put on some tunes & shake your booty to. Just BE there, enjoy your best girl pal/s & have a laugh.
Food ideas –
You could have a takeaway, every one buys a dish & you could all try a bit of each dish. You could even all chip in some pennies to get a few drinks for the group.
Pamper session –
- Fill the air with relaxing music or even nature sounds
- Make a homemade face mask
- Each person offers to do one task, i.e. one person does the facials/facemasks, one person does the foot soaks/foot rubs etc, one person dishes out a massage. The idea is that no-one has to give themselves a pamper, just make sure that no-one gets left out! There’s always someone that’ll have a foot phobia & they will be more than happy to do anything but feet & won’t mind doing their own feet (that’ll be me. Hehe). Whichever task you do, make sure you provide everything you need.
You could give yourself a pamper session (facial, facemask, foot soak, hot bubble bath either with a good book or candles listening to some nature sounds or relaxing music).
Food ideas –
I definitely think something clean & healthy to go with this theme, like, salad, crudités & dip, quinoa salad, pasta salad, rice dishes but NO cream sauces!
You can even incorporate the girls night & the films night together, spending time with your favourite females, watching cheesy chick flicks or a soppy romantic film (tissues at the ready). Also, I can’t imagine the man in your life would want to sit through 4 to 5 odd hours watching Pride & Prejudice while you swoon over Colin Firth (oh my word, that lake scene…………..swoon!).
Me & my family raise money for Ataxia UK & we have a Just Giving page.
I tried to put in some links here for my Ataxia fundraising facebook photo albums but the links wouldn’t work, there was about 12 of them & they would’ve given you some great ideas. We’ve done a pamper night, book sale, numerous fete days, cake sale, Bbq & more.
Having a BBQ may also be the last thing on your mind in this cold weather but again, bear with me, you can add layers of clothing stand by the heat of the BBQ or, if you’re lucky enough to have a fire pit or garden heater (I don’t have either) problem solved.
Recipe ideas for a Bbq (I love anything pig, so…………) –
Bacon Wrapped Chicken Skewers
8 slices Bacon
4 Chicken thighs, boneless skinless
1/2 cup Honey
1 tsp Paprika, smoked
1/4 cup Apple cider vinegar
Mix together the honey, paprika & apple cider vinegar
Cut the chicken & wrap with the bacon
Put the meat onto the skewers & then brush on the sauce
Cook on the Bbq until fully cooked – I recommend doing an extra one to use as a tester for cooking checks
Potatoes wrapped in bacon
Not exactly to go on the Bbq, more of a side dish, although, I reckon they wouldn’t be that hard to cook on the bbq cause bacon’s easy to cook on a bbq & they’re only ickle taters.
Get as many baby potatoes as you want
Half the amount of bacon slices to potatoes
Pre heat the oven at 200°c
Heat up a little oil in a baking tray while the potatoes are par boiling (your preferred oil is fine)
Par boil the potatoes – only until they are literally JUST starting to go soft (DON’T LET THE WATER BOIL) & then wrap in bacon
Put in the oven until bacon is cooked & the potatoes are soft (not too soft though, you don’t want them falling apart).
If you want to, you can coat with herbs or spices before putting in the oven to bake.
Craft Night –
Invite like-minded family &/or friends round for a night of making cards/decorations/invites etc, you could pull your craft resources together & if someone has an occasion approaching within the next 12 months, you could make some stationary, decorations etc together.
Food ideas –
Any of the food ideas above would go well with an evening of crafting, remember, a fuelled body is a fuelled mind!
More easy food ideas for any of the above –
A glorious mixed fruit salad
Apples & marshmallows on cocktail sticks
You could even do things like apple & nut butter?
In fact, I challenge you to go into your kitchen right now, go through ALL of your food cupboards, your fridge/freezer & NOT find something you could put together & take along with you to a BBQ/picnic/girls night/film night/games night (etc etc) this weekend?
I absolutely love the look of these boards –
A bruschetta Bar
Cheese board goals
All of the above ideas can involve a numerous amount of your family &/or friends, you & your special someone or a couple of them can even be fun to do by yourself.
The idea is that each person brings an addition to the offering to make it cheaper & easier on everyone attending & no one person has to foot the entire cost themselves.
Here’s a couple of websites with more ideas –
26 Build Your Own Food Bar Ideas.
23 Easy Picnic Recipes
Take what you want or need & ignore the rest.
Whenever you spend time with people you care about, I think this should be a must (unless there’s an emergency of course) –
I hope you found some of them useful & who cares if it’s Winter, if we waited for the warm weather to arrive before we socialized outside in the UK, we’d forget what the sun & fresh air felt like on our skin!
Bye for now.