How to Ready a Spontaneous Backyard Picnic in 15 Minutes

How to have a spontaneous family picnic: a simple, quick and fun activity for you to eat, play,  spend quality time together and create lifetime memories.

When was the last time you had a spontaneous family picnic? Are you looking for a simple, quick and fun activity to share with your family? If the thought of setting up a picnic overwhelms you, I’m here to help. In this article, I’ll show you how your family can prepare a picnic in 15 minutes or less.

How to Have a Spontaneous Picnic in 15 Minutes

Why Picnic Adventures?

Our family picnics are always an adventure because we make them spontaneous. We never know when or where they will take place.

Sometimes the decision to have a picnic is driven by my children’s moods (a change in scenery does wonders), other times it’s determined by the weather and sometimes it’s based on what’s available in the pantry and refrigerator.

Our unplanned picnics allow us to eat, play and spend quality time together.

The spur-of-the-moment nature of our picnics brings us closer because it gives us the opportunity to break away from our family routine and work together as a team. If you ask my children, our picnics are like a treat – something truly enjoyable that they don’t get often.

How to Have a Spontaneous Picnic in 15 Minutes
A picnic is a wonderful way to relax together and it doesn’t have to be a lot of work.

How do you possibly get everything ready and everyone out the door on a moment’s notice?

Allow me to share a few secrets, and you will soon be able to enjoy an evening of fun, food, and family time on your own 15-minute picnic, just like we do.

You Will Need

  • Food and drinks
  • Basket, cooler or bag
  • Plates, cups and utensils
  • Blanket or tablecloth
  • Dash of spontaneity
  • Pinch of creativity
  • Plenty of fun

Preparation Time

15 minutes

Activity Time

Hours of fun


The park, the beach, your own backyard—anywhere you’d like to go on a picnic. Some surprisingly quick locations are suggested below.

Below are five easy steps to a spontaneous picnic:

#1: Keep the Food Simple

With all the food blogs, TV shows and food photos on Pinterest, I envision preparing elaborate meals for our picnics. However, that vision quickly vanishes when I realize that would require thoughtful planning, shopping and much more time than I typically have, especially after a workday.

The first secret to a 15-minute picnic is to keep the food simple.

How to Have a Spontaneous Picnic in 15 Minutes
A salad is a quick, easy and healthy picnic meal.

What does your family like to eat? If they enjoy peanut butter and jelly, then have the kids assemble sandwiches, cut them into fun shapes, pour some milk into cups and you’re set!

Plan your picnic menu based on what you have on hand and can put together quickly. Our picnic menus range significantly. We’ve had soup, tuna salad, pasta, veggies and sandwiches.

We often rely on leftovers and creativity; grilled chicken from the previous night’s dinner and a premade salad mix inspired our last picnic meal.

You could even pick up a pizza on your way home from work for an instant picnic.

Try a picnic made entirely of healthy snacks. We did that once and my kids loved it!

How to Have a Spontaneous Picnic in 15 Minutes
Be sure to include some healthy snacks in your 15-minute picnic.

The key to a stress-free picnic menu is to choose something you can prepare quickly.

#2: Get Your Kids Involved

The second secret is to have everyone help with the preparations, even the kids.

On our last picnic, my husband mixed the salad while I prepared a fruit salad and my son grabbed our ready-to-go bag (see below).

How to Have a Spontaneous Picnic in 15 Minutes
Bagged salad + leftover chicken = quick picnic meal.

I packed our meal, my husband got drinks and my son helped my daughter with her shoes.

How to Have a Spontaneous Picnic in 15 Minutes
When everyone helps, you’ll be ready to go quickly.

If everyone works together, you’ll be ready for your backyard picnic in less than 15 minutes!

#3: Have a “Ready to Go” Bag

The third secret to planning a fast family picnic is to be prepared. I put together a “ready-to-go bag” and keep it packed and ready in an accessible location.

How to Have a Spontaneous Picnic in 15 Minutes
Keep your ready-to-go bag in a place the kids can reach.

Our ready-to-go bag is an insulated cooler bag that I fill with paper plates, napkins, cups and utensils—everything we will need for a picnic other than the food. Be sure to include a ball or Frisbee to play with.

How to Have a Spontaneous Picnic in 15 Minutes
Keep blankets clean and ready with your picnic bag.

Place the bag and your blanket somewhere your kids can easily access them. When it’s time to go, you’ll be ready.

#4: Pick a Creative Location

Your picnic can take place anywhere—be creative! You don’t have to spend a lot of time driving somewhere “special” for your picnic.

You can lay your picnic blanket down just about anywhere and have fun with your family.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Your backyard
  • Neighborhood park
  • Clearing in the woods
  • Anywhere there’s water
  • Public parks
  • Side of the road
How to Have a Spontaneous Picnic in 15 Minutes
You don’t have to travel far to have a fun picnic.

We’ve had picnics in many places that are close to home.

When it’s too cold or too hot to be outdoors, have a picnic in your living room.

Pack your bike’s basket and ride to the neighborhood park. That’s what we did for our “snacks picnic” and we all had a great time.

How to Have a Spontaneous Picnic in 15 Minutes
Enjoying a meal in the backyard.

Have a picnic in your backyard. That’s where most of our picnics take place.

#5: Enjoy the Moment

Since the goal of our picnics is to spend time together and have fun, we always make time for play after eating.

How to Have a Spontaneous Picnic in 15 Minutes
For some people, the meal is the game!

When we go to the park, we take a ball and make up running games.

How to Have a Spontaneous Picnic in 15 Minutes
“Duck, duck…”

When we picnic in our backyard, my kids like to play tee-ball, create chalk art and find insects, but their favorite activity is to play group games like Tag and Duck, Duck, Goose.

How to Have a Spontaneous Picnic in 15 Minutes
“Goose!” It’s fun to share your own childhood games with your kids.

Some Final Thoughts

My kids get excited when they hear “picnic” and I love that our picnics allow us to have spontaneous family adventures and create lifetime memories.

No matter when or where your picnic takes place, enjoy the moment! If possible, leave the cell phone behind. This is easier said than done, but it’s the best way to be present.


  • Pack a ready-to-go bag: an insulated cooler bag with paper plates, napkins, cups and utensils—it will be ready when you need it.
  • Place the bag and your blanket somewhere your kids can easily access them.
  • If you have a wagon, use it to pack and transport your picnic items.
  • Pack a ball or Frisbee for the park.
  • Encourage your kids to make up games.
  • Do you get together with family or friends on a regular basis? Plan a group picnic! Have a contest to see who can prepare their picnic in less than 10 minutes.

Make the most of your adventure together and I guarantee your next picnic will be filled with fun and wonderful memories!

What do you think? Got any creative locations or ideas for picnics? What games does your family like to play together on a picnic? Comment below and let us know how and where your picnic took place. I’d love to see a picture, too.