10 best picnic baskets for the ultimate alfresco dining experience
If you usually cart around odd plates and plastic bags full of food when you eat outside, now's the time to invest in a beautiful wicker hamper
There can hardly be anything more quintessentially British on a hot summer’s day than a good old fashioned picnic – and if you want to get really traditional, then you’ll need a picnic basket.
We’ve shaken out our picnic blankets (or not in some cases, as some picnic baskets include one) and made sandwiches, salads and cakes galore to test out this year’s top picnic baskets.
Before buying yours, make sure there’s enough room for all your food – some have barely enough space for cheese and wine, let alone a feast.
And consider if you’ll need a two, four or even six person basket. Do you want an insulated food bag to keep food cool?
And do you prefer the idea of proper plates and glasses or the more practical plastic equivalents?
Also check what accessories are included as some have the basics of crockery, cutlery and drinking vessels, while others have napkins, salt and pepper pots, corkscrew and even chopping board and table cloth.
And if you plan to carry it any distance, check it’s comfortable to hold too. Bon Appetit.
The Colourful Garden Company personalised picnic basket: £139, Not On The High Street
You can personalise this gorgeous traditional willow picnic basket with your chosen initials, making it a great wedding or anniversary gift. We like the design which allows you to stand two bottles of wine or champers upright, then you undo the clasp and flip up the two sides of the lid to access the cutlery, stored in the lid itself, with the porcelain plates, glass wine goblets, bottle opener, napkins and cooler bag in the main section. It’s beautifully made and should last you a lifetime. There’s a four person one available too.
Vonshef 4 person navy picnic basket: £49.99, Vonshef
Fill this great-value grey wicker hamper up with edible goodies, find a good picnic spot, and Bob’s your uncle. The handles fold down, then the two sides of the lid – which house the cutlery – flip up to reveal a roomy area where you can store your gastronomic delights, while the four cotton napkins, dinner plates, plastic wine glasses, salt and pepper shakers and bottle opener attach to the sides. There’s a soft, waterproof-backed picnic blanket thrown in, making this an ultra-comprehensive option.
Les Jardins De la Comtesse marine picnic basket: £171, Amara
It’s not as easy as you might think to find a decent six person picnic basket, with many on the shoddy side and even at risk of falling apart when filled with food and drinks, not to mention having handles that dig into your hands. Not so with this wow-factor basket that you can carry comfortably on your shoulder and whose nautical-themed interior includes ceramic plates and napkins attached to the lid, while inside there’s a zipped insulated compartment with glass goblets, a pouch with 18 pieces of cutlery, wine straps, salt and pepper pots and corkscrew. With the matching tablecloth, that’s attached to the outside, you’ll need to get some posh nosh to do this picnic basket justice.
Joules tweed picnic basket: £99.95, Joules
This one keeps things simple yet elegant with the classic light brown wicker, brown faux leather detailing and classy tweed fabric backing. Just the ticket, in other words, for the likes of Henley Regatta or Ascot, while also being handy for a beautiful country spot or urban park. There’s enough for four people to dine in style, with plastic glasses that attach to the inside, along with handy insulated pouch for food, while the lid is home to the cutlery, plates and bottle opener. It’s on the heavy side when filled, so we could have done with a shoulder strap, but it looks stunning and will last years.
Dibor pot belly two tone picnic hamper: £89, Not On The High Street
We haven’t come across this shape before, or indeed the two tone wicker, so if you’re after something potentially unique for two people then this may be the hamper for you. It’s practical too, with the bulbous design making more room for your foodie delights. The cutlery, salt and pepper shakers and corkscrew are all easily accessible from the underside of the lid, while the plastic wine glasses store neatly in the main section, along with the food. There are faux leather straps and – joy of joys, for when you’re walking across the fields to find your ideal picnic spot – an adjustable shoulder strap.
Greenfield Collection Henley willow picnic hamper: £73.99, Amazon
This two-person picnic hamper stands out for its barrel shape and durable yet surprisingly lightweight full buff willow. There’s real leather detailing and a cheery red lining, with the easy-flip lids holding the plastic wine glasses, cutlery and corkscrew while the inside has the plates and two bottle holders. There’s not as much room as with some, but for a light-ish lunch or cheese and wine, it’s a beauty. On the downside, the fabric isn’t finished off as neatly as with some and can look a bit stretched in places.
Beachcrest Home 4 person wicker picnic basket: £31.99
This is our top choice for those on a budget. For under £35, most picnic baskets fall apart practically as soon as you look at them, but this one surprised us with its robustness and quality. The plastic plates and cutlery are attached to the lid, while the main section is split in half – one side for the glasses and napkins, the other for food that needs keeping cool in the insulated bag. So there’s no need to get the attractive striped lining dirty with food. We’re not going to pretend it has quite the finish of its pricier contemporaries – and you’ll be limited with the amount of food you can fit in – but it’s not half bad, especially for the price.
John Lewis Croft Collection 4 person filled hamper: £90, John Lewis & Partners
This big brown wicker hamper is one of the largest in our roundup and has oodles of room for a feast fit for a special summer’s day, and you can bung in a bottle or two too. All the essentials including plates, plastic glasses, bottle opener, chopping board (ideal for cheese) and napkins are neatly fixed to the sides and lids of the basket with leather popper straps. Everything feels beautifully made and well finished and the plates are ceramic, which adds to the overall quality feel. But when it’s full to bursting, be warned it may be heavy to carry.
Fortnum & Mason Piccadilly stripe 2 person hamper: £275, Fortnum & Mason
You know you’ve made it when you own a Fortnum’s picnic basket. As with all their baskets, this one has their logo stamped on the beautiful quality, hardy wicker, while their signature Eau de Nil colour is used inside, both making it instantly recognisable. Inside you’ll find stripe bone china mugs and plates, proper wine glasses, salt and pepper mills, corkscrew, flask, white linen napkins and some long-lasting cutlery. In addition, there are three bags – a bottle holder, insulated food bag and drawstring bag (great for putting used cutlery in for the way home), and yet there’s still room for a small picnic. And there’s none of your faux leather with this one – only the real deal.
Dibor tyburn luxury 2 person picnic hamper: £72, Not On The High Street
Another one that you can personalise – this time with a luxury cream leather tag, rather than on the wicker itself – this two person hamper has a neat square shape, with grey faux leather detail, brass chains and clasp and checked lining. On the back of the top lid, you get the porcelain plates, cutlery and bottle opener and inside you’ll find a handy insulated area to keep cool food, along with the acrylic wine glasses. It’s a nice compact, reasonably lightweight option, making it easy to transport, but probably not the best for huge decadent feasts for which you’ll need more room.
The verdict: Picnic baskets
The Colourful Garden Company personalised picnic basket will make you the envy of the picnic world – it’s robust, practical, roomy and makes a lovely gift on account of being personalised. On a budget? The delightful Beachcrest Home 4 person wicker picnic basket is remarkable value.
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