The ultimate guide on how to create a pallet picnic on a budget! I'll be sharing my tips on how to source a pallet and ideas for food and décor.
Pallet picnics are all the rage these days as outdoor gatherings are becoming more popular. It's the perfect way to get friends together to enjoy nice weather and share a meal outside!
Creating a super fun and gorgeous pallet picnic comes down to two main components: DECOR and FOOD! And then of course good company!
I'll be breaking down these two topics and sharing tips on how you can repurpose items in your home to create the ultimate pallet picnic!
How to Source a Pallet
First things first: we need a pallet of course!
My father in law had a pallet laying around after picking it up on the side of the street one day.
To source a pallet, try scoping out a nursery or landscape design center to see if they have any pallets to give away. Big box home improvement retailers like Lowes or Home Depot usually give their pallets back to the supplier or reuse them, so you won't be able to find them there. However, a small business owner might be willing to give one away.
Facebook marketplace has a huge stock of pallets. From random people having a stack in their backyard to warehouses selling them for $5-10 each or even free! The trick here is to find one that is in good condition that is somewhat clean and free of major splinters.
You could also build your own pallet! There are plenty of resources online to DIY your own.
If all else fails, use a coffee table! I know it wouldn't be a pallet picnic but it's an even better option because it's a solid surface, so you won't need to worry about things slipping through the cracks. It's also raised up so the food is at a more comfortable level.
Pick a simple coffee table with a leg on each corner. You may already have one at home, or you can pick one up on Facebook marketplace for a couple bucks!
You've got a couple of possibilities for a "blanket." First is obviously using a picnic blanket or throw blankets but if you don't have one you can use a bed sheet.
You can also use a large area rug or layer a couple of smaller area rugs. The key is to keep them within the same color scheme so even if the rugs have different designs, the color theme will keep it cohesive.
For this pallet picnic, I actually used a 5x5 ft shower curtain! The theme was floral and I found this really pretty pattern at HomeGoods. It didn't have large grommets so you couldn't even tell it was a shower curtain. Plus I could reuse it in the future as an actual shower curtain!
I also found that window curtains would work really well since they are super long and come in a pair which is big enough for a pallet.
The shower and window curtains are the cheapest options if you don't already have blankets and rugs to go with your theme.
Guests can just sit on the picnic blanket but I highly recommended adding cushions for comfiness and to elevate the look of the picnic.
I love the look of square tufted cushions but I didn't want to spend a ton of money on them, especially if I was only going to use them a few times.
I used throw pillows from around the house as my cushions. They happened to be in the same neutral color scheme so it went well with the rest of the pallet picnic.
After the picnic, I simply washed the pillow covers and they were back on my couch!
Alright, now that we have the basics down let's have some fun with the décor!
You can repurpose an existing table runner or use a bed sheet! Drape it over the length of the pallet for a flowy and textured look.
For some fun colors to go with your theme, check out the craft store for tons of fabric options. They will cut the fabric to your desired length.
Or do what I did and use a scarf! I happened to have a neutral colored scarf with fringe at the ends and it was perfect for a drape-y look with texture.
Floral Centerpiece Ideas
I love flowers so of course my centerpieces were florals! Spend 30 bucks and you can arrange a large centerpiece and then some.
My favorite store for flowers is Trader Joe's because they tend to have the best prices and most diverse flower options. Many of them are prearranged so all you have to do is put them in a vase!
I highly recommend picking up a prearranged bouquet and then some filler flowers and greenery to go with it.
To make your arrangements look like they're from a florist, the trick is to create dimension in the arrangement with some pieces higher and some lower in the vase.
I made a large centerpiece and then a few smaller arrangements using bud vases and drinking glasses to line the table.
To keep it simple, you can make an arrangement with one flower like tulips or hydrangeas or baby's breath.
Another option is to line eucalyptus flat on the table like a garland. It's so simple and so classic!
For centerpieces that guests can also take home, use potted plants like succulents or herbs. For potted florals: orchids, petunias, or geraniums would add a colorful touch.
Non Floral Centerpiece Ideas
The picnic might be during daylight hours but candles really bring the table together and add to the ambience. I added battery operated candles to the tablescape.
The dollar store has a great selection of candles and vases.
How about an edible centerpiece? Lay out some parchment paper and make a charcuterie centerpiece with meats, cheese, fruits, vegetables, and dips for a delicious spread.
Stop by the dollar store for some cute chargers or drape a cloth napkin underneath the plate for an effortless look.
I scoured so many different stores for cloth napkins but none of them stood out to me so I kept it basic with our dinner plates: a paper dinner napkin folded in a fan shape, secured with a ribbon and dried eucalyptus.
Food & Drinks
I picked Mexican food as the theme for the picnic and made carnitas, chicken al pastor, homemade tortillas, elote salad, guacamole, rice, plantains, sangria, watermelon mint refresher, and churros.
I did most of the prep work the day before and finished up the dishes during the picnic.
To be honest, it was a lot and I probably could have just picked "picnic" foods or made one main dish, side and drink but as usual I like to go overboard and drive myself crazy.
There are a couple of easy menu options for a pallet picnic.
- Make it a potluck. Ask your friends to bring something for everyone to enjoy.
- Make cold foods. Actual picnic food for a pallet picnic, what a novel idea! Sandwiches, salad, wraps, a charcuterie board, pasta salad, chips, and cookies. For drinks- lemonade, beer, and wine and you're good to go. These items can be made a day ahead so you can enjoy time with friends instead of cooking!
- Keep the menu simple. Do as I say and not as I do. If you want a dinner like meal for the picnic, pick one cold appetizer, one hot main, a cold side dish, and one dessert where most of the prep work is done the day before. Keep the drinks simple or ask your friends to bring drinks to share.
Other Tips for Hosting a Perfect Picnic
- Pick a shady spot so you don't melt.
- Bring a Bluetooth speaker for some tunes.
- Setup outdoor games like corn hole or giant jenga.
- Bring a garbage bag and paper towels for easy clean up.
- Forget the fancy décor and just do the basics: a blanket, paper plates, cups, napkins and utensils. It'll be easy to clean up and besides, it's about spending quality time and enjoying a meal together!
I hope you found this guide helpful and create your own pallet picnic to enjoy with friends. Tag me on Instagram @beyondthenoms and leave on a comment below on how your pallet picnic went!
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