Get set for the summer holidays with picnicware to suit any budget

Picnicware from John Lewis (
Picnicware from John Lewis (

The fashion for picnicking may have originally taken off in post-revolution France, when the royal parks were opened to the public for the first time, but these days it’s as quintessentially a British activity as they come. With opera season and the Proms in full swing – plus, as any parent is keenly aware, the school holidays upon us – we’re in peak picnic time. And with no sign of the heatwave letting up, there should be plenty of scorching days and balmy evenings in which to spread out your blanket.

In these Mediterranean temperatures, picnic accoutrements have become a serious concern, and whether you’re heading for an evening at Glyndebourne or a family day at the seaside, you might want to consider upping your alfresco game. Whatever your style, there’s a hamper, rug or set of plastic plates to suit. 

Here’s our pick of the best picnicware on the market, for bargain hunters and budget-blowers alike...

Cheap and cheerful

You don’t need to spend a fortune to get hold of some good picnicware this summer - the supermarket brands have outdone themselves with inexpensive portable plates and acrylic glassware. Sainsbury’s has a collection of coordinating picnic blankets, cool bags and melamine tableware that looks far more expensive than it is, particularly as it’s currently on sale - the Palm House and Bohemian Traveller ranges are especially pretty.

Enamel plates, £26 for four, Falcon ( 

For those who want to steer clear of plastic, Falcon’s classic enamelware plates, dishes and tumblers come in a choice of colours and will last for years.

Elsewhere, Morrisons stocks a foldable, portable ‘wine table’ for under £30, with holes for glasses and bottles to help keep your drinks upright, and H&M is doing a good line in cheerful, colourful blankets and cool bags.

A cut above

John Lewis is your go-to for good-quality, mid-range picnicware that won’t break the bank, including tweed blankets, bamboo bowls and plates, and acrylic wine glasses. Marks & Spencer is also doing a good line in stylish picnicware this summer - its leaf-print melamine plates give a subtle take on the tropical trend, and its cool-bag backpack, with plates, cups and cutlery included, is a great idea for the adventurous picnicker.

If you’ve gone to the trouble of baking, you can do better than serving your goods in standard tupperware. Joseph Joseph’s stacking storage boxes have pops of rainbow colour, Ferm Living’s terrazzo tin lunch box ticks a trend box, and Marcel Wanders’ circus-themed storage tins for Alessi will add a festive feel to your spread.

Circus tins, £45 for a set of three, Alessi ( 

Cotton napkins are a nice touch, and won’t add too much weight to your basket - Ibbi’s are block-printed in a choice of colourful designs on soft Indian cotton, while Pentreath & Hall’s come with subtle neon stitching. And don’t forget to pack an additional throw in case the weather turns - Bronte’s are light enough to carry, but thick enough to serve for extra sitting space if needed.

It’s worth spending a bit more on a picnic blanket that will last the distance. Selfridges stocks striped designs in chunky washable wool by Tweedmill (from £50), a heritage brand that has also produced a special country house-style design for Soho Home. Alternatively, an outdoor rug is a lighter, wipe-clean alternative to a blanket - Audenza’s is in a monochrome geometric design and comes with velcro ties, making it easy to roll up and carry (and goes rather well with the brand’s contemporary bamboo plates).

Country House picnic blanket, £120, Soho Home ( 

Blow the budget

Nothing says posh picnic like a stylish basket. Fortnum & Mason’s are the gold standard, and the Camellia four-person hamper (£550) won’t disappoint, coming complete with bone-china mugs and plates, proper cutlery and an insulated flask. Elsewhere, the hampers by Les Jardins de la Comtesse, available through Amara, are similarly luxurious, some with tablecloths, wooden chopping boards and bread knives.

Camellia four-person hamper, £550, Fortnum & Mason ( 

For drinking in style, Liberty’s brass lassi glasses, hand-carved in India, would make a chic, alternative wine vessel, but if you can’t bear the thought of sipping your chablis from anything short of crystal, consider Riedel’s O to Go wine glasses, which come in individual boxes for easy transportation. They’re also stemless, which means they won’t fall over on uneven ground.

If you really want to make a statement at the opera, check out the new, limited-edition blankets by fashion brand Mother of Pearl, to be released next weekend. Available in red or blue, with elaborate fringing and pearl-studded leather carriers, they were worn down the SS18 catwalk like handbags, and are designed to do double duty as cosy scarves on chilly evenings.

Limited-edition Luella blanket, £295, Mother of Pearl (