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11 Tips for the Perfect Family-Friendly Beach Picnic

What to pack, what to leave behind, and fun ways to keep everyone cool on a hot day.

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Take as much finger food as possible

You don’t want a fun day at the beach to get bogged down with bags of plates and silverware. Tasty picnic foods include: fruits like berries and apples; baby carrots and other raw veggies, with hummus or eggplant dip; tortilla chips and salsa; and hard-boiled eggs.

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Know what NOT to bring

Mayonnaise can go bad in the heat, so choose a different spread for sandwiches and wraps. Cheese and crackers is an easy snack, but be sure to bring French Brie or Camembert, which will ooze deliciously in the heat, rather than a hard cheese such as Cheddar, which will go oily when left in the sun. Don’t let spoiled food ruin your beach vacation!

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Keep the kids happy

Pack beach-themed foods like goldfish crackers, Shark Bite fruit snacks, and seaweed crackers. Even fun snacks can be healthy!

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Use a shade umbrella or tent

Not only can you enjoy your picnic foods minus the glare, but you also protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays. Take the proper steps to protect your child from skin cancer, including lathering on dermatologist-approved sunscreen.

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You can’t have too many hand wipes (baby wipes work too!) to help with cleanup

Rinsing hands in saltwater just leaves them sticky. Turns out there are some extraordinary ways you can use baby wipes and baby wipe containers, even if you don’t have young kids.

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istock/John Madden

Brownies and cookies are good portable desserts

There’s always a good reason to eat dessert. Just avoid anything with frosting, which will melt in the heat.

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Take along bottles of partially frozen water

Your water will stay cool even after sitting in the sun. Since we’re more likely to drink more water when it’s cold, you’ll still be able to keep your kids hydrated when all they want to do is play. (Check out more tips to stay hydrated this summer.)

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istock/Peter-John Freeman

Don’t forget a bottle opener

And remember to pack the can opener, too. However, if you do happen to forget, there are still ways to open beer and wine without their respective openers.

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Spread your picnic on a tablecloth on the sand

It’s lighter than a blanket—and much easier to wash. Follow this helpful guide to make sure you know how to do laundry the right way.

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istock/Chris Fertnig

Stock up with a cooler

Take one that’s big enough to fit food and drinks. Bringing separate coolers is just too much effort when you’re also keeping an eye on the kids. Ice packs used for lunch boxes are also a must, and not just for their intended purpose. If someone’s too warm, place them on wrists and ankles for a speedy cool-down trick.

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Don’t forget to take some games to play after the food is eaten!

Beach balls, Frisbees, playing cards and Twister are good standbys.

Sources: Picnicworld.net, Squidoo.com, delish.com, thesecretingredientonline.com, the-picnic-site.com

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest