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Maybe it’s because I’m a new mama or maybe it’s because I’m officially in my thirties now (I swear something changed!) but I’m finding a lot of joy in the simple things these days. Can you believe I have never gone on a picnic? I was talking with my wonderful friend and also new mom, Sam about this and together thought we ought to change that! So while the photos in this post were taken for this exact purpose and are styled visuals, I hope they inspire you too, to make time for a picnic this summer. To me there isn’t anything more simple or joyful than eating a meal with your friends or family in the sweet summer sun!

All of the lovely images are from Sam of Samantha James Photography. We may or may not have sampled (read: consumed) all of the items pictured here. Proof that a picnic is a delicious idea for your summer schedule!

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Caprese Pasta Salad

• 1/2 box of uncooked pasta (pick your fave shape)
• 1 pack of heirloom cherry tomatoes
• a handful of fresh basil
• a dash of flavored balsamic (we used fig!)
• a dash of fresh extra virgin olive oil
• salt and pepper to taste

To make the salad cook your pasta as you would normally, rinse with fresh cool water and set to the side. Cut all of your tomatoes in halves and quarters. Toss together the fresh basil with the tomatoes and cooked noodles in a large bowl. Add in the vinegar, EVOO, and salt and pepper, tasting as you go until you have a desired flavor. It’s that easy! And here’s a fun tip; World Market has the most delicious balsamic vinegars in the tiniest little bottles. For best results, you can let the salad sit covered overnight in the fridge to let the flavors marinate.

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To make the heart accents in the gelato we used a sharp knife and these delicious cookies! You could also use a cookie cutter if you wanted to get creative with shapes. The glass cups are from Crate and Barrel but you could pre-scoop your gelato, store it in sealed mason jars, and keep in a cooler with ice until ready to serve.

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Five Tips for a Successful Picnic 

1. Consider an invitation regardless of where the picnic is or for how many guests. This allows your guests to prepare what they are going to wear and also gives them time to schedule accordingly. Your invite can be a text, email, or snail mail version but will certainly set the tone for the event. These beautiful yet simple invites from Smitten On Paper would be perfect for a bridal shower picnic or a just because picnic with your girlfriends right? Sam and I felt like guests at our own project shoot!

2. Plan out an easy menu. And select items that can be transported and served at room temperature – especially if you’ll be venturing far out for your gathering. We picked three ‘courses’ for our picnic: a charcuterie plate with goodies from World Market (easy to cut up ahead of time!), a caprese pasta salad which can be transported in mason jars and served at room temperature, and raspberry, chocolate chip gelato, which could easily be brought in a cooler packed with ice. Then of course some bottled tonic and ginger waters also from World Market. But you could bring any drink you’d like! If you like wine, try these.

3. Pick a spot for the picnic and prepare accordingly. Finding some shade under a tree on the grass is my cup of tea but perhaps you love the full sun or the beach! Instead of a small throw blanket consider using a bedspread to cover more ground and bring some pillows to rest your head or side on during the picnic. Not everyone enjoys eating while sitting on the floor so think ahead about your guest’s comfort and how you can make everyone enjoy themselves best.

4. Invest in a few sweet touches. Some people would argue that decorative touches (like a cute picnic basket, a vase with flowers, or fancy napkins) aren’t practical for a picnic but I like to think they MAKE the picnic! All of these thoughtful touches make an experience feel really special and I think that’s part of the magic of a picnic to begin with! So splurge on a bunch of peonies or a lovely blanket to use, or buy that over the top dessert or beach umbrella and rock it proudly at your picnic party!

5. Make your own rules! Because they’re really aren’t any! And bring a portable speaker to play your fave summer tunes. I’m obsessed with this summer jam! The HGE team will surely be playing this all summer long.

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Happy picnic season, friends! Xoxo

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