The Cosy Home guide to perfect picnic paraphernalia

With the weather improving all the time, many of us are starting to make plans for the summer. From festivals to the beach, glamorous Glyndebourne to our own back gardens, the thought of eating outside is starting to seem more and more appealing.

If your picnic set has been in the family since 1983, and currently consists of three plastic goblets and a single plate, now’s the time to invest in some new picnicware. We take a look at what’s out there, and what you should choose.

Paper picnicwear

Modern paper tableware has come on in leaps and bounds, and many companies now sell ‘posh’ versions that are even suitable for outdoor weddings and parties.

The advantages of paper are that no-one has to wash up (always a bonus!), and it’s very light to carry settings for a lot of people.

Disadvantages: they’re not very robust (paper plates can disintegrate halfway through a meal, and have a tendency to bend and tip food off mid-bite), and they’re not re-usable. Plus, wine drunk from a paper cup doesn’t really have the same appeal! While ideal for one-off large events, if you’re planning regular family picnics it could be better to invest in something more robust.

We like:

Toot Suite Harlequin plates, Cake & Candle Ltd

Harlequin paper plates, £4.25 for eight

These large size harlequin design paper party plates would be perfect for a festival or glamorous event. In bright primary colours, they have a gold rim and cost £4.25 for a pack of eight from Cake & Candle.

Melamine picnicware

The history of melamine, a plastic resin material, goes back a lot further than you might think.

It was actually invented by German chemist Justus von Liebig in 1830, but wasn’t manufactured on a commercial scale until the late 1930s. By the 1950s, it was hugely popular and was used in the manufacture of household objects.

It’s still a popular choice today for picnicware, as it’s comparatively unbreakable and very light. Modern manufacturing methods mean that melamine tableware is available in a vast range of sizes, colours and designs. It’s reusable, practical, durable and makes a good choice for a family set.

We like:

Lobster tray, Thomas Paul

Melamine lobster tray, £27

This melamine tray features a realistic image of a lobster on it. The plate is made from high quality, durable melamine and is perfect for serving food or for display on its own. £27, available from MAIDEN.

Enamel picnicware

This summer, go old-school with enamel tableware. Made from steel and covered with a vitreous coating to prevent rust, enamel is probably the most durable picnicware there is – in fact, you’ll be passing it down to your children!

Advantages: it’s unbreakable, lightweight and perfect for rougher picnicking such as camping, plus it makes you feel like you’re in the middle of your own Enid Blyton book.

Disadvantages: ‘unbreakable’ doesn’t mean ‘unchippable’ – if you’re really rough, pieces of the enamel could break off.

We like:

Enamel allium mug, Burgon & Ball.

Blue enamel mug, £6.95

Designed by Sophie Conran this mug is perfect for carrying around the garden as well as for picnicking, and keeps your hands warm on colder days. Made from stainless steel with an enamel coating and stainless steel rim, it costs £6.95 from Annabel James.

Glass and china picnicware

Let’s face it, unless your picnic involves very young children there’s nothing quite like the real thing.

There’s something very decadent about sitting on the beach eating from a china plate with a real knife and fork.

Disadvantages: fragility and weight.

Advantages: you can pretend you live on the set of Brideshead Revisited. Put together your own picnic set from charity shop or eBay finds of mismatched china, then you won’t worry too much if the odd plate gets cracked.



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