While September 22, marks the end of summer this year, Labor Day weekend feels like the end of summer to me. And, I think, it’s the perfect time for an end of summer picnic. It’s around Labor Day that the kids go back to school, and we go back to busier routines. When I worked in an office, Labor Day turned a page from laid back vacation vibes to “serious” business.
The last long weekend of summer is the perfect time for a quiet gathering celebrating the end of summer. It’s also a perfect time to make use of the glorious fruits and vegetables available as the summer comes to an end. I love finding ways to enjoy the fresh bounty this time of year. There is nothing like a sweet watermelon, corn on the cob, or a fresh tomato salad this time of year—and if you grow it in your own garden, all the better. (We don’t have a garden here, but our next place will definitely have space for a garden).
While Labor Day is often the last BBQ of the season—before we start thinking of tail gate parties—many of us are looking for gatherings that are small, light and easy this year. I decided on a an end of summer picnic for two to celebrate. Picnics can be as easy and no fuss or as glam as you want to make it—some like to cook everything at the picnic, while others prefer to make or buy ahead. Which ever way you decide to plan your picnic, it will be memorable and lovely.
This year, I decided to make all the food at home—and we often purchase our picnic faire because these days it’s just Roger and me, but we’ve certainly enjoyed cooking on park grills and roasting marshmallows as the hot coals begin to die down.
What to Serve
This time of year, fruits such as peaches, apricots, grapes, berries and melons are in season, and peas, beans, tomatoes, and cucumbers are also plentiful. As I consider my menu, I choose the freshest and most beautiful fruits and vegetables at the market and build my menu around what I find.
Here at the casa, we have certain fruits and vegetable dishes we only make when the ingredients are at their peek which gives us something lovely to look forward to each season. I’ve collected cookbooks for each of the seasons, which helps to build anticipation and makes each season special. (A couple of great summer cookbooks—farmer’s market cook books).
For today’s end of summer picnic, I’ve prepared a lovely rustic tomato tart and an arugula salad with slow roasted shallots from one of my favorite seasonal cookbooks, Intimate Gatherings by Ellen Rose and Jessica Strand. Back at home, we enjoyed the mixed fruit cobbler that I always make with peaches (you can use which ever fruits you want) and vanilla ice cream. This menu is so delicious and makes for a great picnic for two—plus everything is made in advance and packs well.
What to Wear
I will soon be packing my summer dresses away, especially white and pastel shades, so I decided to wear my white sundress. This dress has Bridgeton vibes- a trend we will be seeing into the winter months. Look for ruffles, puffed sleeves, beautiful floral prints and lots of volume. The bigger the better—when it comes to dresses this year. While Labor Day is traditionally the day we put white clothing away, I still style many white items through out the year, but I do put my sundresses away—especially white ones, as I am already excitedly looking for fall colors in my wardrobe. I recommend wearing something you love from summer that you will be putting away as a sort of last hurrah.
If you would like to consider a more casual outfit, denim shorts and a white top are a great choice, or you can channel fall vibes—that’s great too.
I am big on setting the scene, so I purchased a beautiful, foldable bistro set for our end of summer picnic—it takes up next to no room in the garage, and is super simple to set up. Mind you, we could have used a “regular” picnic table, or put a blanket on the ground and add a few throw pillows and it would have been amazing, but there is something special about going a little extra now and then. It made the day more memorable.
I also love to bring along a “proper” picnic basket—one big enough to carry real dishes and all the fixings for a beautiful picnic. Because it was just the two of us, I used dinner plates we picked up for my birthday a few months ago—I was looking forward to using them. Paper plates are practical—especially the thick ones—so your food doesn’t soak through or slide off—but it’s always fun to go all out.
When we host Brooke and her friends, we pull out our bag of lawn games-which is always fun, and in the evening, I like to put out lanterns, and big soft pillows so that when we are finished eating we can do a bit of star gazing.
There is nothing better than an end of summer picnic, enjoying the great out of doors and delicious food with friends and family. It seems that we have come to appreciate being outside and enjoying the healing power of nature this year, as well as enjoying beautiful meals served outside.
If you love picnics as much as I do, be sure to grab my free picnic planner below:
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