Summer weekends: Picnic fun

Jun 29, 2012 at 3:00 p.m. ET

July is National Picnic Month. So what better to do this weekend than take the sack lunch to a whole new level with your family?

Grab the family and some creative food ideas and get outside for fun picnic dining and some serious family bonding during National Picnic Month!

The breakfast picnic

Who says picnics are only for lunch? Ditch the sandwiches and chips and fill your picnic basket (or cooler) full of breakfast goodies instead. Let the kids help pick and pack the food. From cinnamon rolls to fruit, the children will have a blast starting their day this way. Tip: If caffeine is your morning vice, don't forget to fill a thermos (or two) with some coffee or green tea.

The backyard picnic

You don't have to go far to have a perfect picnic experience. Just taking a few steps from your house to the backyard is enough to mix it up and make the meal memorable. In fact, you could even have your breakfast picnic in the backyard. This way, the kids (and Mom and Dad) can keep their jammies on.

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The dessert picnic

No non-dessert food allowed! At this picnic, your basket can only be filled with sweets and treats. Think s'mores, mugs of cocoa and strawberries and whipped cream. You can even combine the sunset picnic (see below!) with the dessert picnic and roast marshmallows while you watch day turn to night.

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The sunset picnic

Have the kids help research a spot to watch the sun set. Pack the perfect picnic basket and head out to your vantage point. It will be fun to watch the sun disappear into the skyline and then snuggle with your family under the stars. Bring blankets to cozy up with if it gets cold at night!

The five-star picnic

Skip the blanket, lose the wicker and don't even think about finger sandwiches because there's nothing traditional or "picnic-y" about this picnic idea. Instead of sitting on the ground, bring a folding table and chairs. Instead of paper plates, pack the good stuff. Rather than preparing the food yourself, order take-out from a nice restaurant. It will be fun to bring upscale dining to the oudoors. But tell the kids they don't have to put napkins in their laps or worry about elbows on the table. High-end or not, they're still outside.

Picnics are a great way to bond

No matter what picnic idea you choose, use the "blanket time" to bond with your kids. Play games, ask them about their day (and tell them about yours), discuss what they (and you) are thankful for. No matter what the topic of conversation or what's on the menu, having this time together as a family is a unique way to connect.

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