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Summer picnic essentials

9 goodies to make the most of picnic season

June 05, 2013|By Lisa Arnett, @redeyeeatdrink | RedEye

With the recent kickoff of outdoor concerts at Ravinia and Downtown Sound—plus Movies in the Parks starting for the season on June 13—now is the time to get your picnic gear in order. Whether you go all out with an antique wicker basket and red-checked blanket or prefer to picnic impromptu with whatever you can cram into a grocery bag, these extras can up the ante on your spread this summer.

Seletti World Dinner Maps place mats
Plot future globe-trotting jaunts while eating off these disposable paper place mats, which plot out major sites in six cities: New York, Tokyo, London, Paris, Shanghai and Rio de Janeiro. They're packaged like a gigantic notepad, so you can rip off as many as you need. Considering there are 50 in a pack, it'll last through several summers.
$30 at Tabula Tua (1015 W. Armitage Ave. 773-525-3500)

PieBox pie carrier
Load up your favorite pie in this super-cute reusable box—made from raw pine right here in Chicago—and you're set to meet up with your picnic pals by train, bus, foot or bike (it straps onto a bicycle rack quite well) without so much as denting your crust.
$35 at The Haymaker Shop (5507 N. Clark St. 773-681-0798) or $50 with a pie at Bang Bang Pie Shop (2051 N. California Ave. 773-276-8888)

Belvoir Fruit Farms Organic Elderflower Presse
This non-alcoholic sparkling lemonade channels the flavors of the French 77, a cocktail combining elderflower liqueur and lemon juice with champagne. Like the label reads, it's "100% good."
$2.75 at Le Cafe du Marche inside the Chicago French Market (131 N. Clinton St. 312-731-3945)

Wine sippy cup
This double-walled travel cup with a wine glass silhouette inside is practically destined to be all the rage at Ravinia.
$16 at Wisma inside Chicago French Market (131 N. Clinton St. 312-382-1805)

Wood Thumb six-pack carrier
Load up your favorite brews in this wooden bottle carrier and you're good to go.
$45 at Urban Outfitters (935 N. Rush St. 312-640-1919; 20 S. State St. 312-269-9919)

Steady Sticks can holders
These spiraled sticks are designed to drive into the lawn, sand, flower pots—wherever you need a little help keeping your drink steady while chowing down. They're A-OK to bring to Movies in the Park, but leave 'em at home if you're going to Ravinia or Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, where putting any kind of stake into the lawn is not allowed.
$9.95 for a set of two at Crate & Barrel (646 N. Michigan Ave. 312-787-5900; 850 W. North Ave. 312-573-9800)

Kikkerland Blink ketchup and mustard bottles
Every picnic needs a conversation starter. These squeeze bottles with baby doll-style eyes that blink when you tip them definitely do the job.
$24.95 at Paper Source (232 W. Chicago Ave. 312-337-0798; 919 W. Armitage Ave. 773-525-7300; 3543 N. Southport Ave. 773-880-0489)

Caspari paper linen napkins
These little red-checked beauties are made of paper but feel like cloth.
$7.95 for a pack of 15 at Paper Source (232 W. Chicago Ave. 312-337-0798; 919 W. Armitage Ave. 773-525-7300; 3543 N. Southport Ave. 773-880-0489)

Sunny Life radio
Plug your phone or mp3 player into this retro-styled water-resistant portable speaker and radio to pump up the volume on your picnic playlist.
$24.95 at Paper Source (232 W. Chicago Ave. 312-337-0798; 919 W. Armitage Ave. 773-525-7300; 3543 N. Southport Ave. 773-880-0489)


***
The booze rules
Alcohol is allowed at Ravinia as well as most public performances (and up to one hour after) at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion and the Great Lawn at Millennium Park, including Downtown Sound. Booze is a no-no in Chicago Park District parks, so leave your wine at home if you're heading to Movies in the Parks.

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