10 Ideas for a Personal, Cozy Autumn Picnic

I'm delighted to begin the week with a photo shoot that I did yesterday in the forest near my house. I was with my friend Lilly, who makes a great model, and we had such a nice time working together in the Fall weather under a golden sun! I'm happy to share the results of our forest picnic with you today, which is in partnership with . I will share 10 ways to create a personal and cozy forest picnic for two.

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First, a little background about this picnic. I thought since I live in Germany, I'd like to take the daily ritual of 4:00pm kaffee und kuchen (coffee & cake) and recreate it as a theme for a romantic picnic for two. I imagined a couple with a young child, who hardly ever go on dates because they are so busy with their careers and kids. How sweet and touching it would be to surprise your partner with a kaffee und kuchen picnic in a nearby green area - perhaps in the afternoon while the little one is with grandma for a few hours or with a babysitter. How nice to just escape and celebrate your love. To eat, read some magazines, listen to some music, chat...

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For this scene, I've customized a , , , a , and - all from . I'll detail each below along with my 10 tips for a creating a lovely little couple's picnic. Are you ready?

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1. FAST, SIMPLE, HOMEMADE. The first thing to do when you want to plan a quick picnic for two is to keep the food simple but homemade.

Why? Homemade shows you care and everyone appreciates something made by hand and usually one cake is cherished more than a spread of grocery store food. Make a cake or something else sweet that will fill your bellies but also be easy to pack and carry. Remember, you are only spending a few hours together, you don't need to bring a cooler and a wagon full of food!

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2.  ADD A PRETTY PHOTO BLANKET. I love soft, warm blankets for picnics in the cooler months.

You can use like I did to customize a for you and your sweetheart. I suggest fleece so you can bring it home and use it later on the sofa. Maybe you can incorporate a photo into the motif that your loved one took, like I did below? It's a big photo of green apples from my husband that has meaning to him.

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3.  PACK ONLY WHAT YOU NEED. No more!

Next, you'll need to pack everything you need for eating and drinking but ONLY what you need, don't get carried away and overload your bags because carrying all that stuff around isn't how I enjoy going on a picnic. I prefer to bring exactly what I need: Glasses or cups, forks, napkins, plates, a knife if you need it for slicing, etc. Think of everything and pack it along.

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4.  MELAMINE PLATES. I love the idea of using melamine plates for picnics because then I'm not throwing away plastic and paper each time I picnic.

I wish more people would pack and stop using paper products that immediately end up in the trash bin. For these plates, I also used photos that my husband took. Imagine how happy your partner would be to see their photos on plates? How thoughtful! And of course, you can use them over and over again for picnics later on and even at home for those casual pizza nights by the television.

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5.  Have one, easy beverage. And a bottle of water.

I like to have one "signature" drink for a picnic and then, a bottled water. For this picnic, I went with coffee. Another tip when bringing coffee or tea is to mix in the milk and sugar first at home, then put it in a thermos. Don't pack everything separately, the less you have to bring with you the better. If you want to do iced coffee like I did, pack the ice separately in a small container that keeps ice from melting. You can also skip the ice and just do hot coffee or tea. I love iced coffee though and since September isn't cold enough for me yet to drink hot coffee at an afternoon picnic, I wanted to try iced coffee and cake -- and it was yummy!

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6.  GLASSWARE. YES, REALLY. I never thought to use glassware at a picnic, but when I saw these thick and very sturdy glass mason jar mugs from Shutterfly, which you can customize with your own text, I was totally on board with GLASS.

Again, I like the idea of being able to use something over and over again versus throwing it away. After the picnic, I can use these cute for hot cocoa, beer, iced tea, cocktails or even a vessel to pop in a bouquet of flowers. My mugs say "Tee loves Holly" and "Holly loves Tee" (Tee is the nickname of my husband.).

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7. LINEN VS. PAPER. Another nice tip is to bring linen napkins instead of paper.

Why? For a romantic picnic, cloth feels classy and nice. And less waste!

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8. ADD RIBBON AND GREENERY OR FLOWERS. It's so easy to make your blanket look pretty with next to nothing!

You can pluck a few sprigs to add to your picnic scene. A few wildflowers, cloud berries, raspberry sprigs, or even some pine or leaves can look pretty tucked into the napkin with a simple ribbon. This takes two seconds but looks so nice, don't you think?

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9. A STURDY TOTE. This is a must! Baskets are nice but for me, not practical.

For the perfect carry-all tote, I selected and customized this . On the linen bag the word Ausflug is embroidered and I chose brushed gold as the accent color since it coordinates best with my outfits. Ausflug is the German way of saying to take a quick trip, to sorta fly away for a bit (but not literally). It's like taking a day trip or running away for a few hours to take time for yourself.

10. ADD A SPECIAL GIFT OR TWO. I love to give little gifts to people whom I care for deeply.

For this picnic, you could customize a deck of cards or even a memory game so you can play together. For my picnic, I customized a with photos that my husband and I took over the years of our little boy, Aidan, as a gift. I added words the best describe our child as he is today at age 3 1/2. My husband really loved these!

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Don't you think that parents always carry their children with them wherever they go, even when the child isn't around? They still come up in conversation and are always on your mind. That's why parents tend to give things to each other that often involve something that includes the children. A memory game is sweet for the child but also something you can play with them, so it's a nice gift to share with your family.

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Another nice gift, which isn't needed for a picnic but is small enough to pop in your tote bag and bring with you, are using photos that your partner took. Imagine how happy they'll be to have something else in the home that's so personal! My husband really liked these, especially since he uses coasters every day on his desk for his tea or while having a drink during a film because we have nice tables in our home that we don't want to leave water rings on. Coasters are not the most modern home accessory, I know, but they are still good to keep around and to use. Didn't these come out so nice?

I'm so happy that you came on this little picnic adventure with me today. I hope my ideas have inspired you to think simply when it comes to entertaining but also, to try to personalize the things you buy so that they are more meaningful and lasting. Before this, I'd never in my life thought to put photos on anything other than my wall or in photo books, but now I'm convinced that adding photos to everyday things can add such a special touch, and warm the hearts of those whom you care for, too!

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(Photography: Holly Becker. Model: Lilly Oppitz)

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