Share the load
Much like Christmas, it’s all too easy to get stuck doing everything. Before you know it, you’re trying to hang bunting while yelling at Alexa to check the timer on your cake and fielding WhatsApp messages about parking. You do not have to do everything on your own.
Some people are great at putting themselves forward. Others less so. The easiest way to make sure that everyone mucks in is to create a Google spreadsheet. List everything that needs to be done, from sorting chairs or picnic rugs to tidying away afterwards. Send a link to the spreadsheet with your invite, asking everyone to commit to at least one task and one dish.
Remember that we’re in Britain
Rain, blazing sun, fog – you never know quite what to expect in June. And it’s wise not to 100% trust the weather forecast. So, hope for the best, but plan for rain. Your budget might not run to hiring a marquee, but does anyone have pop up shelters they could bring? Or could you hire your local community hall for the day?
Even if you’re not worried about rain, you’ll want to make sure people can seek shade, just in case the sun does decide to make an appearance.
Have fun with decorations
Agreeing a colour scheme is the easiest way to go. Red, white and blue is the obvious choice for the Jubilee. Decorations can be as simple or as complicated as you fancy. A few flowers in jam jars and some coloured serviettes will liven a table up. Or go the whole hog with bunting, balloons, streamers and homemade crowns.
Parties are a great time to celebrate as a community. You don’t want to leave anyone out, which means catering for guests who have allergies or dietary requirements. Don’t panic, it’s not as difficult as you might think. You’ll find plenty of inspiration for vegan desserts in our recipe pages, along with gluten-free pudding ideas. Remember to keep nut-free offerings on a separate table.
Make life that little bit easier by preparing some dishes ahead of time. Many bakes can be frozen and then defrosted the night before. These Chocolate Cupcakes with Whipped Chocolate Ganache can be frozen individually for up to three weeks in an airtight container. Just cover the surface of the ganache with clingfilm before sealing the container to stop any ice crystals forming.
Keep your cool
It’s best to stick to cold food for your Jubilee picnic, even if it’s being held right outside your door. Hot food requires precision timing. That’s difficult enough to achieve at the best of times, but it’s even trickier when everyone is guzzling prosecco. And do you want to enjoy a laugh with friends, family and neighbours, or be constantly looking at your watch and running off to check on the chicken?
A cool box is a must if you don’t have a nearby fridge. Frozen water bottles tend to stay cold longer than icepacks, so pop a few in the freezer ahead of time. Cacao Chocolate Sorbet will be gratefully received if the temperature soars and should survive for a few hours in a cool box.
All this said, hot chocolate does always goes down well if the weather turns chilly or the picnic goes on into the evening. Make it at the last minute and keep it warm in a flask.
Focus on finger food
Picnics are not the time for roast dinners. Go for food that can be eaten with your fingers. Think pitta pockets, cold chicken wings, watermelon, mini frittatas, stuffed baguettes, crudites with dips, tarts, cookies, biscuits and flapjacks.
But of course, this is a Jubilee picnic, so you’ll want at least one showstopping Jubilee pudding.
Yep, we’re banging on about planning again. You’ll want a good balance of savoury and sweet dishes. (Although the kids would likely be delighted by 16 choices of dessert and no veggies in sight.) Make sure everyone includes what dish they’re bringing on that spreadsheet we mentioned. Is there enough savoury food? Are you catering for different dietary requirements and tastes? Will there be enough to snack on if the picnic carries on over two mealtimes?
Cake makers assemble
If the picnic is more than a few feet away, you’ll need bakes that withstand being jolted around. Ideally, add the finishing touches to your showstopping cake when you arrive. This ombre icing effect looks spectacular, but it’s easier (and quicker) to achieve than you might think.
Add the essentials
You’ll want to pack light but have everything you need to hand, including:
- Lightweight activities to keep kids entertained (eg a frisbee, beach ball and some comics)
- Plates, cups and cutlery (think bamboo or enamel)
- Camping chairs and tables or picnic rugs
- Extra layers for when the sun goes down
- Serviettes or wipes
- A bag for your rubbish
- Plasters and antiseptic cream
- And (most importantly) a bottle opener so you can toast the queen in style
Again, this list is something you can split between guests. There’s no point having 23 bottles of suncream and zero plates.
There’s bound to be the odd hiccup on the day. Someone will forget a side dish. Balloons will get burst. Sandwiches will dry out. But none of that really matters. Because ‘perfect’ isn’t really about those little details. It’s about who you’re celebrating with.