I can’t believe it! Time is going by so quickly here. We are already at Memorial Day weekend and I am still getting used to writing 2016. This marks the official kickoff of summer! Whether it’s beaches, mountains or just simply your back yard, I encourage everybody to get out into nature and enjoy with family and friends.

Summer is a great time to get out and celebrate simply! Be spontaneous, don’t overthink it, just do it! Whether it is a picnic on a lakeside, beach, or overlooking a great view, using nature as the setting for getting together is always my first choice. With your location in mind now let’s concentrate on who will be coming. Start with a simple list and go from there. The invitation can be as basic as a group text or as elaborate as an Evite. For food and beverages, I have found asking my participants to bring something to be a great way to lighten the load, while also making everybody feel like they helped. But if that’s not for you, I also love making up picnic baskets filled with some of my favorite foods, picked up from a deli, or market around my neighborhood. If ease is your thing, then simply call up a favorite restaurant or deli and have them put the whole thing together. I find that if you explain that it is for a picnic, they will usually put the extra effort to package everything perfectly for your get together.

Think about some activities to do outside so that there is always something fun going on. This can be as easy as setting up bocce ball or Frisbee. Depending upon the size of your group, I would recommend an activity for every 4 to 6 people invited, and depending upon your location you might want to consider a little music. Music can help break the ice while also punctuating the moment. Options can range from a small battery operated speaker dock that you can plug your mobile device into and have playing softly in the background, all the way up to a live musician or two. For the setup, I love the classic picnic blanket. For smaller groups (12) I suggest one large blanket and for larger groups I recommend multiple blankets with enough seating for four people on each blanket. Additionally for bigger groups I recommend bringing some folding banquet tables to set buffet and beverage items on. The items can be placed on them and off the ground. Coordinate the linens colors for these tables with your picnic blanket color scheme. If you want to add an extra touch, get some smaller picnic baskets, fill them with flowers and place them on the blanket.

Now you are all set. From the simple, to the extravagant, the outdoors is a great environment to create magical memories.

To all my fellow Americans, I wish you a happy, healthy, and fun Memorial Day weekend!!