When the weather outside is frightful and inside is so delightful, don’t worry about where to go: throw an indoor picnic at home!
It’s during these dreary winter months of cold, wet air and cabin fever that we find ourselves dreaming of sunshine, warmth, and flowers. Don’t let the crummy weather outdoors stop you from bringing a little bit of that sunshine into your home. You can keep both little ones and big ones entertained with a bright, happy picnic on your living room floor!
TIP: While we’re writing this article in the winter, you can absolutely throw this party in the summer, too, especially if you live in the South and want to stay out of those triple digit degree heat. Just make sure you get the a/c started early so it can keep up with all the people in your house.
This particular indoor picnic had an additional element: doll tea party. We invited all of our young guests to bring their favorite doll and tied in some of the party elements to the dolls. The kids had so much fun introducing their dolls to everyone and incorporating them into the activities. It was pretty adorable.
First thing to do is decide where you’ll have your picnic which requires enough floor space for a blanket, dishes, and your guests to sit comfortably. If you don’t have tons of space (and we don’t), think outside the box. Can you have your picnic in a hallway? In a bedroom? Is the weather mild enough that you can have it on a balcony / patio or in a garage with space heaters? Can you move furniture to a different location for more floor space?
At our party we relocated the living room coffee table to another room and made sure the remaining furniture was pushed as far back as possible. We then laid down cheap, green vinyl tablecloths to mimic grass and protect the underlying carpet for stains (we found these tablecloths at a thrift store). A pastel plaid tablecloth went on top to act as our picnic blanket.
NOTE: You might want to have your guests either keep their shoes on or take both shoes and socks off to keep from sliding around in only socks.
For some people, this is the most fun part: planning your food. Keep your snacks simple and easy to eat with just hands since your guests will be sitting on the floor. Trying to balance a plate of hot food and utensils on your folded leg while you’re sitting criss-cross-applesauce is not much fun. Room-temperature food that only requires a serving utensil to add it to your plate is much better. A few other things that will help:
- Serve food that is bite-sized or only requires a few bites
- Serve everything on plastic or paper when possible (then you don’t have to worry about ceramic or glass plates breaking)
- Use dinner plates and bowls for serving as they’re easier to pass around among your guests
- Remember to serve opposites to satisfy as many guests as possible:
- something sweet and something salty
- something savory / flavorful and something bland
- something creamy and something crunchy
- For a creative touch, change up the way you serve the food:
- serve food in teacups, shot glasses, muffin pans, ice cube trays, etc.
- cut your fruit and vegetables with extra flare: into shapes, scour the sides, etc.
- pile a large amount of the same thing (even cherries and cheeseballs look special in a large serving)
- make your meats and cheesy look fancy with little effort by sticking toothpicks in them for serving
We wanted our guests to feel their dolls were guests at the party, too, so we pulled out multiple play tea sets and combined them with doll-sized paper plates and paper cups we found on Amazon. Doll-sized food can be pricey, so we came up with an alternative solution: a variety bag of food erasers, also from Amazon. They were the perfect size for the dolls, and the kids had so much fun digging through them and “serving” their dolls. Because they were so cheap, we were able to let our young guests take home a few each as party favors.
The activities didn’t stop there! We had some fleece scraps left over from a previous project (see DIY Convertible Fleece Blankets), and arts & crafts are always popular at our parties for younger guests. They got to dig through the scraps to find the ones they liked best (there may have also been jumping in fleece piles, but we’re not telling) and – depending on their age – cut them into different doll-sized accessories. These included:
- doll blankets
- doll capes
- doll scarves
We’ve included a few shots below with a ruler to give you an approximate size to cut the fabric. The best thing about fleece? It’s no fray, which also means no sew for these projects!
And here’s a cute doll-sized sleeping bag for your older and craftier guests:
In case we were unsure if our guests enjoyed themselves, we received lots of pics later of happy dolls with their new accessories: