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5 Easy Hacks to Ensure You Have the Best Summer Picnics

Have a refreshing, bug-free summer party!

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Picnicking in the park is one of our favorite summer activities. We love to lay out on a blanket with a good book or share some tasty beverages and snacks with friends while enjoying the fresh air. These easy outdoor tricks will make your al fresco day in the sun even more fun and relaxing!

Make bugs buzz off with a citrus defense.

The most pesky picnic infiltrators — ants! — hate the smell of citrus. It’s easy to create a bug-free perimeter by dotting the corners of your blanket with a bit of citrus essential oil. And to keep flies from crashing your party, simply cut a lemon into quarters and poke a few whole cloves into the fleshy part of each wedge. Place the wedges on a couple of plates — flies hate both the scent of citrus and spice, so the combination will make them buzz off fast. Also smart: Pack batteryoperated fans; the steady breeze will keep you cool and shoo flies and mosquitoes.

Keep food fresh with frozen bottles.

To ensure your snacks stay fresh, simply put a few water bottles in the freezer a couple of hours before your picnic, suggests Kysha Harris, chef and food expert at The Spruce Eats. “They’ll double as ice blocks to keep your food chilled and temperature-safe in your cooler,” she says. “And when you reach your picnic spot, your drinks will still be cold.” Plus, the “ice bottles” conserve cooler space since you won’t need to include extra ice packs. Genius!

Clean your hands with soap on the go.

“Before you leave for your picnic, fill an empty bottle with tap water, add a few squirts of liquid hand soap and shake it up,” says Evite event specialist Casey Martinez. “This works even better than hand sanitizer to remove dirt, grease and grass stains.”

Outsmart damp ground with double-duty bags.

The morning was a little wet, but now the sun is shining. To keep dry at your picnic spot, just lay a few garbage bags on the ground before putting down your blanket. “The bags create a waterproof barrier, so your blanket won’t get wet from the damp ground,” says Andrea Slonecker, co-author of the cookbook The Picnic. “When you’re done, you can use the bags for cleanup.”

Get your cooler ready fast with baking soda deodorizer.

Because coolers are designed to be airtight, they can develop a musty odor over time. Banish smells easily by sprinkling a generous amount of baking soda inside your cooler and let it sit closed overnight, says Slonecker. “The next day, take it outside and wipe it down with a little white vinegar to further deodorize it.”

This story originally appeared in our print magazine.

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