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Ready to take on a summer picnic without all the waste?  Learn how to make these 5 simple (and reusable!) outdoor picnic ideas.

How to have an eco friendly picnic outdoors.

One of my favorite things to do on a nice summer day is to pack delicious food and drinks and go out for a picnic! They are such a good excuse to sit back, relax, unwind and enjoy the outdoors.

In this post, I will show you how to make 5 environmentally friendly outdoor picnic ideas to enhance your summer entertaining. Curious? Here’s what we’ll be making: fabric napkins, paint dipped utensils, a mason jar match dispenser, blanket carrier, and bowl covers!

Picnic Project #1: Reusable Napkins

Outdoor Picnic Ideas and Projects

For this project you will need:

  • Fabric
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Sewing machine and thread OR no sew hem tape

Making your own napkins is fun and economical because you can pick whatever pattern you want AND you get to reuse them as much as you’d like. It’s a win-win situation!  To start this portion of the project, I headed over to the fabric remnant section at my local craft store.  Remember this trick because it’s usually the perfect amount of fabric for a small project like this AND its 50% off the original price.  Score!  I decided to go with a green checkered pattern.

I cut my fabric into a perfect square at 19 inches by 19 inches .  Then, I folded over the edges and pinned them down to get ready to sew. Next, with matching thread I made a basic stitch down the edges to secure it.

Note: If you don’t have a sewing machine or if sewing is just not your thing, no sew hem tape will do the job. Just purchase it at your local craft store, read the directions and use a hot iron to apply.

That’s it! Where’s the easy button so we can push it? ☺

Picnic Project #2: Paint Dipped Flatware

Outdoor Picnic Ideas and Projects

For this project you will need:

I picked this particular flatware up at a local thrift shop because I LOVED the designs on them.  They just needed a little sprucing up. So I taped off the portion where eating takes place as to not consume paint and gave the bottom portion a new base coat.

Once the base coat was set, I taped off the lower handle portion of the flatware so that I could prepare for adding a pop of color.  Instead of doing a traditional “paint dipped” style with the bottom handle, I went for a paint dripped effect in the middle. I also decided to do one set blue and one set green so that each picnic guest knows exactly which utensils are theirs!


Picnic Project #3: Mason Jar Match Dispenser

DIY Mason Jar Match Dispenser for Picnic

This project isn’t so much about reducing waste as it is about convenience. Having a citronella candle is handy while picnicking is smart to keep the bugs away from you and your food! This mason jar match dispenser comes complete with a lighting mechanism.

For this project you will need:

  • Mason jar with lid
  • Sand paper
  • Scissors and a pencil
  • Strike anywhere matches (the strike on the box variety will not work with the sand paper)

Simply use the lid of your mason jar to measure out a circle on the back side of your sand paper.  Then, cut around the circle just a tiny bit outside the circle so when you insert the sandpaper into the lid, the edges are nice and snug within the lid.

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Put your matches in your mason jar to keep them dry and safe! When you are ready to light your candle, just strike the matches on the sand paper and you are ready to rock and roll. Talk about easy and fun!


Picnic Project #4: Bowl Covers

Outdoor Picnic Ideas and Projects

Speaking of keeping bugs away from you and your food, I also decided to show you how to make your very own bowl covers.  Functional, cute and will save you a ton on tinfoil and plastic wrap! Need I say more?

For this project you will need:

  • Vinyl fabric
  • Scissors and a pencil
  • Safety pin
  • ½ inch bias tape, ¼ inch elastic and matching thread
  • Sewing machine

Note: Unlike my other projects where you can use new sew hem tape, you will need a sewing machine for this project because of the elastic involved.

Picking out the fabric was easy once I saw this vinyl print – it has picnic vibes written all over it.

To start, grab the bowl(s) you want to use.  Trace it onto the backside of the vinyl fabric.  Then, measure out an inch on all sides of the circle and cut out the shape.

Next, take your cut circle and your bias tape (which is not really tape…tricky!) and sew them together using your sewing machine. Get as close as possible to the edge and leave a little bit of room open at the end so that you have plenty of room to insert your elastic.

Then with a safety pin attached to the end of your elastic (for gripping purposes), thread your elastic through the middle of your bias tape. Note: This will take about 10 minutes. Be patient!  Once you have the elastic all the way through each end, put it on your bowl to measure how tight/loose you should sew it and hold the elastic in place with a pin.

Then just make a quick sew to finish off the edge and you are done!

Picnic Project #5: Blanket Carrier

Outdoor Picnic Ideas and Projects

Have an old t-shirt that doesn’t fit or is out of style but can’t seem to part with it? THIS is the project to use it for.

For this project you will need:

  • T-shirt
  • Scissors

I cannot express how fast this project is.  Simply cut the sleeves and neck off of your t-shirt.  Then, at the bottom of your shirt, cut slits about one inch apart.  Next, flip your shirt inside out and tie all the ends together.  Flip it right back inside out and you have an awesome bag that you can use to carry your picnic blanket!

Now you have the keys to make all five of these projects!  Questions or comments? Leave them below!

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About the Author

Jackie Hausler

Jackie Hausler seeks to inspire creativity in the name of reclaiming, reusing and upcycling. With each project, she walks followers through do-it-yourself projects, shows how to give old items a new chance at life, and teaches ways to be eco-friendly and live a green lifestyle. She believes making your house a home doesn't have to be expensive to be beautiful and is passionate about accomplishing that while being kind to our earth. Jackie is the founder of the home and lifestyle blog Haus2Home.

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