Pop-up Picnics Offer All of the Romance and Fun, with None of the Hassle
This isn’t your typical blanket and basket. These beautifully curated picnics are popping up for proposals, date night, and even kids’ birthday parties.
When Hannah Fuchigami started brainstorming ideas to celebrate her roommate’s birthday, she ran into a bit of a pickle.
With the coronavirus pandemic fully underway, quarantine restrictions remained in place. “What is a way to make this feel really special and out of the ordinary but still keep it safe and COVID-friendly?” Fuchigami recalls thinking.
At the time, the Seattle resident searched for ideas on Pinterest and found herself inspired by lavishly decorated picnics. And we’re not just talking about a simple blanket and basket, here. Think perfectly curated spreads on low-leg tables in serene outdoor locations, complete with colorful wine goblets, napkins, charcuterie boards, flower bouquets, and the like. Years earlier, Fuchigami created a similar set-up for her sister’s engagement. When she couldn’t find anyone in Seattle helping people create these types of special memories, Picnic Party was born.
Fuchigami now offers an array of picnic packages for date nights, anniversaries, baby and bridal showers, and even corporate team lunches that reunite coworkers after months spent working from home. She’s permitted at several parks across Seattle to create whimsical spreads complete with rugs, pillows, grazing platters, string lights, and more. She’ll even pop up a bubble tent around your table if you want security against the elements.
And business is booming. After just one year, Picnic Party is licensed in nine other cities across the country, including Los Angeles, Portland, and Denver. There’s “magic,” Fuchigami says, “when people gather around a table.”
The Seattle-based business isn’t the only one capitalizing on the trend. Pop-up picnics are proliferating across the West as people seek to continue celebrating holidays and anniversaries amid the pandemic. Creators handle every aspect of the design, set up, and clean up, so you get all of the romance and the fun in an intimate setting—with none of the stress.
“It just caught fire,” The Picnic Collective owner and founder Lauren Rivard says.
A one-woman show when she started in 2017, Rivard has since seen her business grow tenfold amid the pandemic and now employs a staff of about 20. The collective comprises multiple franchises and services all of Southern California and Salt Lake City.
Beach picnics are a popular offering—think fringe-lined umbrellas and blankets with pillows in sunset shades—but Rivard also curates backyard movie nights, summer Duffy boat rides, chef-led meals at private residences (or sushi on the sand), and more. She aims to create chic, light, and airy tablescapes. Clients can choose from 10 different pre-curated styles or work with designers to come up with their own for proposals, weddings, and more.
The Picnic Collective fabricates everything in house, from tables and custom backdrops to the floral arrangements curated by a staff florist. Rivard recently opened a Costa Mesa retail shop where you can purchase a lot of the inventory used at the picnics, including baskets and umbrellas, or attend a workshop.
“Every little detail matters to us,” Rivard says.
Picnics Pop up Indoors, Too
In Denver, sisters-in-law Sofia and Kassi Beer combat Colorado’s elements by renting a brick-and-mortar venue where clients can choose from picnic or regular seating, or a combination of both, in a bohemian-inspired setting with lots of low-hanging lights and rugs.
Baby showers are popular, Sofia says, as are proposals. “There’s something about sitting picnic style,” Sofia says. “You get low with people that you love and you are guaranteed a new level of relationship.”
The pair started Denver Picnic Co. while furloughed amid the pandemic, and watched the business take off almost immediately after posting a charcuterie picnic to Instagram. Within two months, the duo put together up to 20 picnics each week. “Guns blazing, picnic style,” Sofia says, “holding onto picnic baskets like a roller coaster.”
Now, many of their events happen in people’s homes or backyards—or in the Denver Picnic Co. pop-up space—and they work collaboratively with clients to come up with a tablescape design. The sisters-in-law also partner with local businesses including “lavish grazing” charcuterie company Fig & Honey to cater their picnics. And they sell branded blankets and totes—and rent tablescapes for holiday parties—in case you want to DIY.
While a pop-up picnic might seem pricey “off the cuff,” Sofia encourages people to “switch it up.”
The Pop-up Picnics Aren’t Just for Adults
Sisters Donika Burdette and Dayna Brink already planned a lot of parties before they decided to launch The Oregon Picnic Co. from Eugene, Oregon, this year. So when they saw the pop-up picnics hitting social media, it was a no brainer to bring it to an area that they say is often overlooked when it comes to trends.
Their picnics range in theme from “Pretty in Pink” to “Afternoon Tea,” the latter being a tradition in their family on Christmas Eve. If hosted on the Oregon coast, they like to set up high in the cliffs so clients can get a stunning view of the ocean.
But with Dayna’s background in childcare, it also made sense to add family-friendly themes for both adults and kids. From “Unicorns and Rainbows” to “Magical Mermaid” and “Harry Potter,” the sisters carefully curate picnics for all types of celebrations. And they’re not just stopping there.
They’re currently brainstorming a “magical” slumber party package, complete with bubble machines, where each child can have an individual tent to sleep under starry night lights on the ceiling. And they’re in talks with a local winery to be able to host multiple picnics on the property at one time.
“Most people think of a picnic as just a blanket and a basket,” Dayna says. “We take it and elevate it to something more exciting.”