Get your kids to play outside all summer along with a picnic campout theme party in your own backyard. Like you, I am always trying to get my children outside in the beautiful summer weather. We have long winters here in Ohio and when it is sunny and warm I want to take full advantage of the nice days.
There is nothing sweeter than the time spent in the summer playing outside, crafting and cooking. Learning life skills while having the best times. So much of daily activities with little ones is teaching life skills without them ever knowing they are learning. Anytime I can, I take advantage of the time we cook, pick up, craft and decorate. I fill the time with life skills but make the activity so much fun no one knows they are learning. Having our deck set up with a picnic camping theme keeps the fun and learning going all summer long.
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Setting Up a Backyard Summer Picnic
Our deck is right off of our great room living room doors. We have a beautiful fabric awning that covers the whole deck from the rain and beating sun. With the deck covered it makes the perfect play location all summer long. This is the perfect place for summer picnics and campouts. The awning has kept the little ones safe and covered for many years. With a baby gate at the stairs to the yard, it forms a giant playpen. Perfect for the blow-up pool or play dough station.
Camping and picnicking at home has been a tradition for my family every since my father, Jim Kirchner would set up our 10 person sleeping tent in the backyard for me and my friends to play in. My best friend and I would play in and out of that tent for hours. We would set it up to sleep overnight but always came in the house at the last minute.
When my girls were little I saw a huge tent at our discount store for a reasonable price, I grabbed it up and continued the tradition. There was no question I had to find a place in our yard for this tent and the kids have played in it for years. When the girl’s little brother came along it was a great place for then to keep him busy. When the spring flowers are in full bloom the girls and I set up the tent under some of our bigger trees that form a canopy overhead in a bare spot in the grass. Perfect for the tent to look like it is set in a beautiful deep woods.
Now that the yard is set I will show you how to make a summer picnic in 5 steps.
- Grilled Chicken Pasta Salad, the kid’s favorite (recipe below)
- Corn on the Cob in the electric pressure cooker (recipe in the mini E-Book)
- Summer Banner to Decorate the Deck (Free Printable Template)
- Matching Laminated Placemats (Free Template)
- Summer Picnic Campfire with Smores
For the Complete Plan sign up for your Free Mini E-Book “Summer Picnic Campout in Your Own Back Yard” The email has the full recipes in one place along with the Templates for the Summer Banner and Summer Placemats.
1. Quick & Easy Summer Chicken Salad
All summer long our family makes Quick and Easy Summer Chicken Pasta Salad. It was a tradition when our girls were teenagers, an upscale pasta salad from their prior favorite of just plain pasta with parmesan cheese sprinkled on top (healthier too). At first, our girls would pick out the vegetable and push them to the side of the plate, but soon they learned to love all of the vegetable and our girls now make this recipe themselves.
We have had many summer days sitting on the deck, after a long day working in the yard or going to summer softball events where this Quick & Easy Summer Chicken Pasta Salad has been a big hit. The easiest part of this pasta salad is that I use a store-bought salad dressing, Ken’s Steak House Balsamic Vinaigrette salad dressing.
To the cooked pasta and Chopped Grilled Chicken, we add in chopped onions, celery, and green or red peppers. Because we are Italian cooks we also add chopped black olives. We have also served this pasta salad without the chicken as a great side dish for any summer meal.
- 1 box of Pasta Cooked al dente, we love bow tie
- 2 Grilled Chicken Breasts
- 1 Green Pepper chopped
- 1 Red Pepper chopped
- 1 small Onion chopped
- 1 can of Black Olives chopped
- (any other veggies your family likes)
- 1 bottle of Ken's Steak House Balsamic Vinaigrette
- Salt & Pepper
- 1 TLB Basil
- 1 TLB Oregano
- If you have the time, take the chicken breasts and marinade and a half a cup of the salad dressing.
- Slice the top of each chicken breast after marinated, approximately 1/4 inch down before placing on grill.
- Grilled chicken breast to 170° internal temperature
- Well the chicken is cooking, chop all of your vegetables, what in a large mixing bowl and pour half of the large jar of vinaigrette over the v vegetables.
- Also, while the chicken is cooking, oil in large pot of water and cook your pasta her the instructions on the box.
- When the pasta is done cooking and drained, add to the large bowl of chopped vegetables.
- Winner chicken is cooked thoroughly, remove and chop into bite-size pieces.
- At chicken to the large bowl and add the remaining vinaigrette and stir well.
- Salt and pepper to taste
2. Corn on the Cob Sidedish
Our family is a big fan of corn on the cob. Jim’s Uncle has operated a vegetable farm for over 50 years and grows the most delicious corn. Our favorite type that he grows is the tri color and it is so sweet. I have tried to make corn on the cob every way possible. But the perfect, hands-free flawless method is with my Electric Pressure Cooker.
I place 4 to 6 ears, with the husk and silk removed, in the pressure cooker with 1 cup of water, and a pinch of salt. I set the timer for 6 minutes, secure the lid and turn the knob to seal. Whenever you come back, you have a perfectly cooked corn on the cob. Even if you are going to put them on the grill I would pre-cook in the pressure cooker.
3. Summer Banner to Decorate the Deck
The kids and I love to make paper crafts and have been making them for years. Bright colored papers, ribbons, markers, crayons, and scissors create beautiful decorations. Now I have a Cricut Explore Air which has opened up the world of my imagination. There is not enough time for all of my ideas.
I designed a banner using my Cricut Explore for my summer picnic. First, print out the banner sheets from the free mini E-book. Then cut out the shapes and laminate to make them water resistant. Take a hole punch and punch holes about one inch from each side. I then used a coordinating ribbon string all the banners together.
4. Matching Laminated Placemats
To make these cute placemats you will need a lamination machine, folders, and lamination sheets. The placemats match the banner that we designed with cute summer images. It is easy to make custom placemats for our summer table or any summer holiday. I just designed the images and printed them on a 8 1/2″ by 11″ paper using my home printer. You can get the placemats to print yourself in the free mini E-book. You can find additional instruction in the mini E-book.
I purchased my lamination machine years ago and I never regret the purchase as it has helped beloved crafts to last for years. These placemats will be able to weather the rain on the deck or any spilled lemonade.
5. Summer Picnic Campfire with Smores
After we have played all day outside and finished dinner, we love to start a campfire and make smores. I arrange all the necessities on a tray and carry out one of our TV trays. Jim lights the fire and the kids feed it with twigs and paper from the recycle bin.
It is easy to set up a campfire, just find a safe location free of debris. You will need the basics, graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate bars. I like to use these long marshmallow roasting skewers. That way you can stay far away from the fire and still have the perfect toasted marshmallow.
I love the smell of a campfire and the glow of the fire on my children’s faces. I love the smiles and laughs as we all try to make the perfect smores. After we have eaten our smores we sit and talk and relax. We love to talk about the many campfires we have attended at Disney World at our Disney Vacation Club vacations. We also start talking and planning our next vacation.
I hope you will have a lot of fun with your kids this summer. A backyard picnic and camping is a great way to keep your kids busy and still be close to home. Download the Free Mini E-book for all the details and let me know what fun summer outdoor activities you enjoy this summer.