Lolita fashion is an expensive hobby; even if you sew your own clothing the costs of fabric, notions, trims, and laces can certainly add up. Meetups can be expensive, too–a formal tea at a restaurant or hotel is usually over $20 per person, movie tickets average $10 each, museum admissions fluctuate but can be wildly expensive (especially if a special exhibit is the object of the trip), and then there’s transportation or other “hidden” costs to attend. All that besides whatever it cost to acquire or complete the perfect outfit. Sometimes it makes my head spin! Although the ambiance of a truly nice hotel can rarely be matched, seeing treasures and artwork adds enrichment to life, and opulent activities seem to mesh well with such a luxurious style, I simply cannot afford to spend a fortune every time I want to see my friends–and I know they cannot either!
Thus my favourite kind of all-inclusive meetup is the potluck-style picnic. I like food-centric meetups not because I necessarily want to eat, but because I want to prolong the time I can spend with everyone. If we arrange a short meetup without meal plans, inevitably the time passes and suddenly it is lunch or dinnertime and everyone is trying to figure out what to do. Spur-of-the-moment restaurant plans are often more expensive than everyone had hoped, not as tasty as everyone wishes, and rather crowded if there’s more than a handful of petticoat-wearing people trying to sit around one table. To avoid this, I always try to build in lunch or dinner when planning an event.
Picnics make sure there’s plenty of room for everyone without worrying about whether or not there are enough chairs. All you need are picnic blankets (or sheets) and decent weather. The “weather” part isn’t the easiest, but now that spring is in full swing and summer will be upon us where I live, I want to make the most of it!
Having a potluck-style picnic is my preferred picnic type for a few reasons:
- Low cost to all those attending–you can spend as much as you can afford.
- Greater variety in food choices.
- More opportunities to socialize.
Eating out is very expensive, and splitting the check can be even more difficult! Bringing something to a picnic, however, is entirely under your control. If you haven’t much to spend you can bring something from home (food or supplies–every picnic needs napkins, plates, picnic blankets, etc.) or check your grocery stores for a good sale. You don’t have to spend too much, or bring a massive quantity of food; although with smaller groups (generally less than ten people) you may want to make sure there’s enough for each person to have a serving, with larger groups this isn’t as much of a concern. In fact, if 29 people did such a thing, how could anyone actually eat a portion of 29 different things? It would be quite difficult.
Everyone has different food preferences. Some of the delicious things I’ve tried at picnics are dishes I never would have thought to bring or make myself! Other times you might find that someone has a secret family recipe or a special skill making this one particular item. I love trying new things~ ♥
If everyone brings separate lunches, it’s too easy for the group to fracture immediately–established friends sitting together in pods with the newcomers isolated. Sharing foods encourages everyone to begin mingling to see what others have brought, decide what they might like to try, select from the bounty, and talk about what’s been provided. It sounds like nonsense, but I’ve seen it work numerous times. There’s just something about sharing that breaks the ice.
Picnics are also good opportunities for other activities, too–word games and parlor games tend to work out very well. A picnic is often very well suited to a stroll before or afterward. It’s nice to pair a picnic with another outdoor activity, particularly if the weather is cooperating. Personally, I really like to tie picnics to zoo trips, because there is a free zoo in the area that is in an area well-suited to picnicking.
When planning a picnic, some of the most important things to remember are:
- Keep a total of guests
- List who is bringing what
- Make sure the location and time are clearly known
- Exchange contact information with other attendees
Keeping track and informing all guests of the total number of attendees is helpful to both host and guests. Knowing the number of picnickers helps you estimate how many blankets will be required for adequate seating; how many plates, utensils, or napkins will be needed; and allows you to scout out a potential area for picnicking based on the size of the group. It helps your guests estimate how much food they ought to be bringing with them. Bringing too much of a dish means they have to carry it around the rest of the day or let it go to waste, while bringing too little can be embarrassing or disappointing.
A list of who is bringing what (or at least what people have committed to bring) helps you spot what is still needed. Is everyone bringing cupcakes? Sounds like the perfect opportunity to provide sandwiches. Has no-one offered to bring beverages? That might be something to suggest if someone asks what they ought to bring. Someone said they’re bringing potato salad–will there be forks for everyone to eat it with? These are questions that can be accidentally overlooked if you don’t know what to expect for the event.
Location and time are vital for any meetup, but particularly so when attendees will be carrying goods that might be heavy or awkward.
Exchanging contact information is vital so that you know if anyone is late, lost, or canceling. It’s frustrating to the rest of the group to be waiting around for an expected participant who never shows up, only to learn later that she changed her mind or was too ill to join you. It’s terrifying as an attendee to be wandering around aimlessly, unable to find the people you were supposed to meet and unable to contact them.
It’s also best to try and come up with a rainy-day alternative! You can’t always count on sunshiny weather. It helps everyone if you come up with a backup plan well in advance and communicate it to everyone so they know what’s going on. If you are forced to cancel, make sure you notify everyone. Sometimes posting a message just isn’t enough–it’s always best to call or text message those who said they would come. Otherwise they might show up to a picnic that never was, wasting time and effort in vain!
Does anyone else have picnic tips? ♥ I know I cannot be the only lolita who likes picnics!