It’s time to revamp your plans for alfresco dining from the ground up. This summer, the coolest place to sip while you sup is atop pristine patios, white sand and emerald lawns. But if cutting crusts and packing a cooler doesn’t sound like your jam, take heart. These local experts are more than happy to take on the heavy (basket) lifting—with upgrades on the standard plaid blanket and paper napkins.
Today’s picnic porters are serving up a number of premium upgrades, including puffed-up lounge pillows, the soft glow of candlelight, Bluetooth speakers, grazing boards packed with cured meats and curated cheeses, and fine crystal and cutlery.
Want to venture beyond your backyard? Hire them to set up at any one of the area’s public parks (hint: that includes most of our beaches, which are managed by the parks and rec department and considered public domain).
Floating pool picnics are just one of the unique offerings from this Naples-based company started by Natasha Rinehart, a former wedding coordinator. For its aquatic setups, the team fills a 4-by-2-foot Balinese woven basket with customizable nibbles, like tropical sliced fruit and Brazil nuts or kid-friendly gummy bears. The basket coasts on the water’s surface, allowing guests young and old to indulge.
For those who don’t want their outfits (or their snacks) to get splashed, Rinehart can create a mini-picnic station out of the water for a slight upcharge. Or, you can opt for a full-on picnic spread on dry land. The company also offers the option of hiring a picnic concierge—a helpful on-site assistant who can replenish baskets, pop out to pick up a bottle of Champagne or plate a cake at a moment’s notice.
Each gathering ranges from two to three hours. Choose from a picnic for two, a small gathering for up to 15 and larger soirees of up to 30. With all, you can extend the revelry for an extra fee.
The basics are plentiful—coolers stocked with refreshments, striking linens, fresh florals and an essentials basket filled with must-haves like sanitizing wipes and sunscreen. But the real fun is in the details—however simple or over-the-top you want to get. Add-ons include rattan lounge chairs, a spacious A-line tent adorned in fringe, romantic macramé draping and deluxe lighting that looks like it was created with the pages of a magazine in mind.
Custom upgrades like a s’mores kit for more intimate get-togethers and a drink station for bigger ones (think: elderflower-infused sparkling water and pink lemonade in pretty spouted glass dispensers) are available, too.
Not Your Grandma’s Picnic
The name of the company is no joke—here, you won’t find crocheted cozies or bland white-bread sandwiches. This Cape Coral-based picnic purveyor is the brainchild of chef Christa Thurber, who received critical praise for her 11:Eleven Cafe in Fort Myers before shuttering it a few years back.
The company is known for the modern-boho flair and thoughtful touches, like cafe lights and umbrellas, it brings to specialized events. Some of those include a vegan poolside bridal shower; a movie night under the stars with a projector and candy cart; and a driveway taco fiesta for nine.
Not Your Grandma’s also likes to serve up plenty of shade via teepees and oversized umbrellas, along with the more expected elevated tables, blankets and serving pieces. The team prides itself on flexibility. At the drop of a hat, they can move an entire party indoors or under the cover of a lanai, which is crucial considering Florida’s fickle weather.
Food and drink are presented with fanfare, and Thurber herself can cater a feast if hosted on a private property. (For events at a park or beach, due to licensing, she has to stick to charcuterie or order in from a licensed food vendor.) Oversize beverage tubs offer chilled refreshments to go along with the night’s menu. While none of the companies featured here can sell alcohol—and alcoholic beverages are not permitted at public parks—you can supply as many spiked sippers as you please if you host in your own backyard.
As if this boho business doesn’t offer enough, they’ve also partnered with other independent businesses, such as Grazing Haus and Wild About Popcorn, to create exceptionally cool, bespoke, private events. Additionally, look for their public gatherings where they offer a taste of the experience, like the $55 Yo-GAN-ics morning beach yoga class, served with a healthful breakfast.
Picture Perfect Picnics
Specializing in intimate gatherings for up to eight people, this culinary concierge team is ready to unfurl blankets and prop with linens, fresh flowers, twinkling lights and tables virtually anywhere in Collier and Lee counties. They’ll also customize the decor for the occasion, whether it’s a romantic anniversary dinner—complete with fresh flowers and recommendations for an acoustic guitar player to perform—or a birthday bash for a mermaid-loving 7-year-old. While two hours is the standard length of an event, half-hour increments can be added.
When it comes to the food, you can opt for individually boxed meals or gorgeously arranged platters and tiered servingware layered with a Mediterranean-inspired meal of olives, homemade basil-swirled hummus and crudités; a French breakfast package complete with figs, croissants, prosciutto and brie; and even a happy kids mix of heart-cut sandwiches, berries, Goldfish, cookies and marshmallows. Additional food and drink can be added, including English tea service, chocolate-covered strawberries and cupcakes.
Picture Perfect prides itself on creating unforgettable experiences and provides an add-on that ensures you’ll remember. Pay a little extra, and they’ll arrange for a photographer to arrive during the first or last 15 minutes of the event, which means sharing your personalized experience on Instagram will be a snap.
Naples Luxury Picnic Co.
A trio of young Naples moms has mastered the art of a chic picnic setup. Co-founder Ryann Grace Scott, who also works as an interior designer, started Naples Luxury Picnic Co. with her two friends, stay-at-home mom Liana Carrasco and elementary school teacher Annamarie Magdelano, last August after they tested the concept with a picnic-themed birthday celebration at Lowdermilk Park. “We woke up the day after Liana’s party, and Annamarie had already made an Instagram page for our picnics,” Scott says.
One year later, the friends have fine-tuned the craft of throwing stylish celebrations, ranging from proposals and bridal showers to retirement parties. The two- and four-hour packages come with a Bluetooth speaker for a customized playlist of mood-setting tunes, and a scene set with plenty of pillows, custom floral arrangements, elegant candles, linens and servingware to match your desired color scheme or theme. Guests are welcome to bring their own food, or for an upcharge, the company can put together delicious fruit and charcuterie boards worthy of your social media feeds. They also work with local pastry chef Corie Greenberg to provide cakes and other desserts for clients who want to end their event on a sweet note.
Once you book your date, the team will send you a questionnaire to determine your likes and dislikes, and then create moodboards and mock-ups to make sure they deliver a picnic that exceeds expectations. “They don’t have to worry about a thing,” Scott says. While most of their clients’ requests call for beachside dining, Scott says they can orchestrate picnics in a park, poolside or anywhere you like. They keep globe lights, solar lanterns and battery-operated candles on hand, in case guests want to stick around well past sunset.
Coast & Mingle
Kayse Duffy and Monette Everett take pride in their tropical-meets-boho picnics that feature a fun array of vintage and locally sourced pieces, like rattan bar carts, monogrammed hand fans and their go-to white fringed umbrella, which serves as a marker for their picnicscapes along the Gulf. “We’ll dig for hours on websites and shops to find pieces that are unique to us,” Duffy says. “If we want it, we won’t stop until we get it.”
The pair came to picnic prep the same way almost everything happens these days—scrolling through social media. They began noticing an abundance of luxe lawn parties in sunny places like California and Australia, and they figured those spots don’t have anything Southwest Florida’s paradisiacal setting doesn’t. Inspired, they worked on a mock setup in each other’s backyards using dishes, seating and decor sourced from their homes.
Not long after, they’d curried enough interest and inventory to welcome clients. Now, the two plan celebrations and get-togethers for up to two hours (with options to add more time) by pools and in beachfront locales across the region.
Packages accommodate small, medium and large parties and feature floral arrangements, rattan poufs, rose-gold cutlery and pops of the client’s chosen colors that show up in decor throughout.
While food isn’t included in the deal, Everett says they are happy to pick up (and recommend) to-go orders from local restaurants, including preferred vendors like Mister O1’s Pizza in Naples or Sospiri Italian bakery in Estero.
They also can throw parties fit for the young and the young at heart. Recently, they partnered with other party vendors to create a balloon-filled, tropical oasis for a young girl’s birthday bash in Fort Myers, complete with a dreamy tent where kiddos could retreat from the sun (and from parents), while grown-ups gathered around elegant tablescapes. That’s one picnic we’d be more than happy to attend.