When you've gone to all the trouble of preparing the sandwiches, sausage rolls, pastries, cakes and salads for a picnic, the last thing you want is for diners to pop themselves onto wet grass or sand. With a picnic blanket, you can create a more hygienic and convivial outdoor dining experience, but there are a few things to consider before making a speedy purchase. For starters, you'll need to work out how big your picnic blanket needs to be. For four people, you'll want to go for one that's extra large so diners can sit comfortably on the outskirts of the blanket with the food in the middle.
It's also important that you consider the environment. If the ground is likely to be wet, then a waterproof blanket is a must to prevent moisture soaking on to people's clothes. If it's dry, you could get away with cotton although some would also swear by luxury wool even though it's not the most practicable.
You may also want to pay attention to how the blanket can be cleaned. Machine washing is most likely preferable for ease of use, but a picnic blanket that can easily wiped clean on the go would be great if you're embarking on an adventure. Finally, consider how heavy and bulky a blanket may be. After all, the lighter and smaller, the more capacity for food!
Resembling a smart satchel when it is folded up, this picnic blanket by Scuddles has been made to be easy to carry around thanks to its light weight and adjustable carrying handle. Since it is water resistant, you'd be able to lie on it without any wetness from the ground soaking through and because it is made from durable polypropylene weave, it should be able to withstand most surfaces and weathers.
We love that it is machine washable, which should enable you to keep it looking in great shape. The simple yet colourful pattern is also eye catching, as is the leather-look carry section. It is big enough to fit as many as four adults, too, although the makers reckon it'll double as a nice play mat for the kids.
A picnic blanket has to be comfortable to sit or lie on so we've been attracted by the thickened sponge interlayer of this good-looking item from WolfWise. The surface is made from velvet for a soft touch while the bottom of the blanket is a waterproof and wipeable polyethylene vinyl acetate to protect from moisture.
When folded up, the eight-person picnic blanket is held in place with touch fasteners and a handle ensures it is easy to carry. It also comes with a storage bag if you want to carry the blanket on your back but the manufacturer advises hand washing any dirt away rather than throwing it in the machine when you return home.
For the ultimate in carry comfort, this picnic blanket folds up to such an extent that it can be popped inside a bag small enough to fit in your hand. As such, it's aimed at outdoor adventure types who have more than enough other stuff to carry with them. That said, it would also be perfect for festivals and anyone who just doesn't like the hassle of carting too much around with them.
Large enough to fit four people at a pinch (but more suited for two) and available in different colours, the blanket is 100 per cent waterproof and allows sand to be easily wiped away. It also has loops in each of the four corners so that it can be pegged to the ground. Alternatively, you could fill the corner pockets with stones or sand to keep it weighted down. It'll also double up as ground cover, rainfly and a tarp.
If you want to make a statement when you unfurl your picnic blanket, then you could do a lot worse than whip this circle of gorgeousness out of your bag. Although it is made from 100 per cotton, so it's not going to offer the same level of waterproof protection of some other blankets, the fact they are hand-sewn and hand-dyed in India makes it rather more unique.
We love how the blanket follows the traditional Indian methods of tapestry-making and we reckon it's sure to cause few problems for picnickers on a sunny day. It will dry fast in any case and it could even be wrapped around you for warmth if you decide the weather gets a little too cold. What's more, with some care and attention, it should last for years.