Picnics can be served with hot or cold food and you can have a barbecue as part of your meal. Decide if you are going to have hot or cold food for your picnic and that will help you decide what you will have for side dishes.
If you are having a picnic with cold food then you need to think cold side dishes to go with the cold food. Sandwiches are a popular food choice for outdoor meals and chips are always good with sandwiches. Watermelon, muskmelon or honeydew melons are nice to have with sandwiches. Dessert can be easy like cookies, cake or a candy bar. This is a simple but very pleasant kind of picnic lunch.
A hot picnic can be made and put into a hot food storage container or it can be cooked on a grill. Good grilling foods are hot dogs, brats or hamburgers. These go well with potato chips, watermelon or a fresh vegetable plate. Potato salad, fresh fruit salad or coleslaw adds a nice complimentary flavor. Bring along ketchup and mustard for the burgers and hot dogs.
A fancy picnic can be a nice way to enjoy the outdoors and it can be served hot or cold. Grilled stakes, shrimp, chicken or fish can be a hot dish. Along with these you can serve a fruit salad that you put in a watermelon rind that has been hollowed out and filled with fresh fruit. Or you can have tiny finger sandwiches made with fancy vegetables and meats.
The drinks at a picnic can be as nice as a bottle of wine or champagne in nice tall glasses. Or you can have a simple selection of sodas, waters and teas from bottles or cans. A big container of sun tea with lemons and ice can be served in glasses or you can have some ice cold beers.
A picnic can be as fancy or as country looking as you like. Set up your picnic at the side of a pleasant lake or take a hike on a back country trail where no one is around but your private picnic. Find a wayside with tables and grills to use for your meal or spread a blanket out where you can sit on the ground and enjoy a tasty lunch. Use a picnic basket with a nice looking cloth cover or use a plain brown paper bag.