An illustration of a socially distant Memorial Day barbecue.

Memorial Day. The unofficial start to summer. Maybe you’ll still have a backyard barbecue—just not with dozens and dozens of neighbors and friends. Though you can still linger late into the night. But perhaps a change of scenery would be nice. So we’re inspiring  you to switch things up and opt for a picnic of some sort. Head someplace a little less familiar. An isolated corner of a city park. A quiet place near that trailhead at your state park. Heck, your neighbor’s back yard. As long as you social distance.

And before we pack things up, let’s pause and take a moment to reflect on the meaning of this day. Be grateful to all our fallen heroes serving in the military—and, in recent weeks, serving our country in other ways. This day is for them.

A Dorset picnic basket with service for four.

A picnic basket suitable for Gatsby

Simple, elegant, and large enough to handle all your picnic goodies—namely batter-fried chicken, maple syrup coleslaw, spud salad, and homemade lemonade.

Buy button. Dorset Picnic Basket, $219 on

An open Corsica basket, displaying two bottles of wine, a corkscrew, cutting board, and knife.

A wine and cheese basket (aka adult backpack)

Maybe the day involves a little wine and cheese, some olives, and bakery bread. If so, the Corsica basket will carry your nibbles in style. With a sturdy willow base and double weave design, it doubles as a wee table. Excellent for afternoon imbibing.

 Buy button. Corsica Basket, $70 on

Two sand-free cabana towels inscribed with 'the beach people' lying beside a wicker basket.

A towel that actually repels sand (now if only your bathing suit did that)

This earth-friendly, fade-resistant towel is (wait for it!) sand repellent. Yep. Seriously. Perfect for setting out a picnic. And it doubles for sunning.

 Buy button. Sand free towel, $30 on

A light blue salad plate shaped like a fish.

A salad plate Nemo would love

Something’s sorta fishy. Namely these gorgeous rustic plates that are made from durable melamine yet look just like heirloom ceramic. Shatterproof, BPA-free, dishwasher safe, and perfect for any outdoor dining.

 Buy button. Vietri Lastra Salad Plates, $33 on

A package of four colorful Jean Dubost dessert spoons in a wooden box.

Non-utilitarian utensils

This colorful pastel spoon set offers you even more enticement to dive into a bowl of ice cream. Added bonus: the ABS acrylic spoons are perfect for chubby toddler fingers.

 Buy button. Jean Dubost Dessert Spoons,$37 on

A citronella candle in a white jar decorated with a butterfly and a wooden lid.

A citronella candle you’ll go buggy over

Oh, those pesky insects. Light this candle and the only bug you’ll experience is the one etched on this beautiful candle. Fine fragrances are blended with citronella to provide a completely natural insect repellent.

 Buy button. Skeem Citronella Candle, $45 on

A blue and white polka dot patterned S'well water bottle.

A MoMA-worthy water bottle

S’well bottles have a vacuum-insulated design that keeps cold beverages cold and hot beverages hot. They’re made from food-grade stainless steel with a condensation-free exterior so no more sweaty drinks or disposable plastic water bottles. And they’re perfect for your favorite cold beverage. Like an icy cold white sangria spritzer.

 Buy button. S’well water bottle, $35 from S’well

A yellow pail and shovel set with a rope handle.

A pail and shovel set for the mini-me set

Keep small hands busy while you sip that wine. This eco-friendly pail and shovel set is made from unbleached compostable bamboo and bio-plastic, with a hemp rope handle.

 Buy button. Pail and Shovel Set, $59 on

All products featured on Leite’s Culinaria are independently selected by our staff. 

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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