hunt, gather and host: winter picnic

Happy New Year, everyone! We started the year off with a great plan for a winter get-together. We packed snowshoes, sleds, boots and our very best snowball-packing mittens and headed up north to Michigan. And we made invites to hand out to friends and family for a snowy sleigh ride picnic. But when we arrived, we discovered something we hadn’t even considered: no snow! Just as surprised as Bing Crosby and crew when they arrived in Vermont to find a dry, no-snow landscape, the three of us never imagined that January in northern Michigan might yield anything but a winter wonderland. 

So, we refocused our sleigh ride and opted for a winter picnic and beach bonfire. If there is one thing we’ve learned about throwing parties, it’s that you have to be flexible! And without snow covering the ground, it was easier to trek through the woods while gathering pieces of white birch bark, fallen branches and berries to make our party pretty. — bbbcraft sisters

CLICK HERE for the full party details and more ideas for throwing your own winter picnic after the jump!

We had planned on boxed lunches for our sleigh ride, and luckily we could still stick to that. We used one of our favorite cookbooks, Tom Colicchio’s ‘Wichcraft, to make the sandwiches: roasted turkey, avocado, bacon, onion relish and aioli. Homemade aioli takes a little extra effort but is so worth it!

We sliced potatoes for homemade potato chips, made pretzel sticks (from amazing bread book Local Breads), and included freshly baked chocolate-chip cookies (from Joanne Chang’s fantastic new baking book, Flour).

Then for the fun part of putting it all together! We used plaid paper napkins for a wintry, cottage feel and stamped the boxes and bags with a tree stamp.

With our packed lunches, we gathered together the rest of our supplies to keep our guests and us warm, cozy and happy. We loaded our big red cart with the essentials for a beach party in freezing temps: a thick Woolrich blanket, supplies for s’mores (we individually wrapped and packaged each so that fingers wouldn’t freeze assembling them), thermoses filled to mix hot toddies (hot water, lemon, honey, a few whole cloves, a cinnamon stick and a pinch of nutmeg) and a bottle of bourbon.

We filled a vintage slow cooker with ice and beers from two of our favorite Michigan breweries, North Peak and Bell’s.

With our cart complete, we just had to pull it on the path through the woods and down to the beach!

We cut pieces of birch bark, wrote the names of guests on them to label marshmallow roasting sticks and lit a roaring fire in the beach fire pit.

As we got set up for guests to arrive, we tried a few marshmallows ourselves (and a beer or two as well). The day after our party? It snowed.

Photos by David Robert Jones. Crafting, cooking and design by bbbcraft.

  1. katherine says:

    Wow, I never thought I’d crave a midwestern winter, but I am now! Having spent some cold camping trips in the UP, I can only imagine how freezing you guys are in these pics. It looks great, though!

  2. Yvette says:

    SUPER CUTE!!! Love all the photos and ideas! LOVE!!!!!!

  3. Kim says:

    Oh boy! Smores in the winter? My favorite. This looked like a grand winter party; you girls are so crafty and fun!

    I moved here (Annapolis, MD) from Maui last year, so I understand a bit about making the most of what winter has to offer. Every season is beautiful and should be enjoyed!

  4. db says:

    great & lovely pics! Though to recreate this (in eastern canadian climes) we’d have to wait a few months (!) … ie late-ish April :( much too wet now.
    good news is I already own those furry boots – absolute toe-savers! brrrr.

  5. What a great idea! I think those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere tend to be like brown bears and hibernate over winter. A winter picnic is just the thing to coax us out of our dens!

    When I was visiting family in Finland, we had a picnic on the ice at the cottage, complete with a fire, slow roasted sausages and warm cider. I’ve got a few photos on my blog here if you’d like to see a Winter picnic Finnish-style!

  6. Stacey says:

    Can anyone let me know what brand the boots are featured in these photos?
    Thanks much!

  7. Morgan G says:

    Oh my goodness. There are so many of my favorite things in this post that I don’t know where to start. That picnic-basket-backpack might be my favorite, homemade aioli and s’mores tied for second. Fun post!

  8. kelly says:

    You sisters slay me with your adorable-ness and creativity.

  9. bridget says:

    I <3 this so much.

  10. Sam Eh says:

    I would also greatly appreciate the brand of the brown boots in the first image :D Thanks!

  11. Carly says:

    Stacey: I believe those are the Sorel Joan of Arctic boots. This picnic looks like it was so fun, maybe I need to get out there and enjoy this cold weather more :)

  12. Stephanie says:

    so much creativity! Sounds like a wonderful time. Makes me want to go visit my family in Michigan.

  13. kiti says:

    This sunday i’ll organise the winter picnic too! I love the idea! Nice photos;)

  14. whitney says:

    I am pretty sure those are LL Bean Boots. Mine have been getting lots of mileage with all this snow!

  15. Enna says:

    A winter picnic, why have I never thought of that?! Looks like great fun!

  16. Jenna says:

    Good luck getting the boots…they’re backordered until MARCH. waaaaaah. So sad that they don’t produce more during the winter months.

  17. Darcy says:

    Great ideas. It’s sunny here in California, but a beach picnic with marshmallows sounds delightful! But, I HAVE to know about that backpack basket. I have been looking for that exact kind of thing so when I run errand on my bike I can put groceries and flowers without crushing them like in my normal backpack. Thanks in advance.

    1. amya says:

      Hi Darcy – I know they have it at Brook Farm General Store - It looks like it’s sold out, but maybe you can find another one somewhere else or contact them…
      Good luck!

  18. db says:

    Sorel boots 4th pic… super warm.

  19. Caitlin Kelch says:

    wow – Super inspiring! Reminds me (since we’re all sharing :) of winter vacations I used to take in Devon & Cornwall. Thanks for reminding me!

  20. Lovely! You (almost) make me want to leave my warm, cozy house.

  21. zelina says:

    wow, I want to do this./ It’s looks like so much fun. great post!

  22. Pam Keener says:

    Lovely post & I want to know the specifics of that cute basket backpack.
    Love & Hugs,

  23. Emily Z. says:

    Could this *be* more adorable?

  24. Erena says:

    oh! so cute! this is right up there with the pancake party! <3
    i'm going to have a go at this when the weather starts to turn cold again. thanks for the inspirtation!!

  25. MelissaMo says:

    This is so lovely. Nothing like beer and melty marshmellows!

  26. kelly says:

    Those are totally LL Bean boots — the fleece-lined ones. I have the same ones. They’re the BEST.
    What I want to know about is that fur hat.

  27. I live in Madison, WI and we have plenty of snow to share with your party, feel free to come by anytime. I will be happy to take you on a frozen lake picnic. Its quite a sight to see!!! Love this post, smores are always necessary!

  28. Debra says:

    That really does look like it was a lot of fun but for me it gets just toooo cold here in Texas.

  29. jordan says:

    ladies…. I LOVE IT!! i check d*s daily and i have to say, i always know when the posts are yours. your aesthetic is undeniable… inspiring + fantastic. keep it up.
    (hope our paths cross in person one day soon. until then….xoxo).

  30. Anastasia says:

    Very cute, food looks so yummy!

  31. Amanda says:

    This is the party I’ve ALWAYS WANTED for my January birthday. Too late for this year but thanks for the inspiration for 2012

  32. claire says:

    I’d like to join this fabulous party please! :)

  33. bbbcraft says:

    Hi everyone!

    Thanks for your nice comments!

    The boots in the first photo are LL Bean boots (we wear them every day in the winter!) and the basket pack we got from Kaufman Mercantile,

    –bbbcraft sisters

  34. holly says:

    I love these boots! I just got a pair which were on back order for a few months. They are worth the wait, they last forever, have a lifetime guarantee, and best of all, they keep your feet toasty and warm!

  35. Amy Fiore says:

    The boots in the first picture are LL Bean. The Sorel boots are available on other websites. I just got the Joan of Arc boots at I really thought everything about this post was great. Thanks for the leads for where recipes are from!!

  36. jen munch says:

    So great! This post is an inspirational reminder of all the charms winter has to offer. Thank you, ladies!

  37. Victoria says:

    I loved this post! I lived in grand rapids, mi for a few years and absolutely loved going to the beach all through the year! The photos are gorgeous and this is an awesome way to enjoy the landscape even in winter!

  38. Bethany says:

    I’m a Michigan girl myself, so I really appreciated this post. I spent NYE in Northern Michigan in 2008, sledding, going on hikes, and visiting microbreweries. It always feels amazing to spend time up there anytime of the year. Thank you for sharing this.

  39. erin says:

    lovely details.

  40. karen.hofatt says:

    Got to try this with the kids. Really makes you want to go out- in the cold!

  41. Cathy Polachek says:

    Love the idea of the camp fire and the wagon. I’m curious where you found the red bags in the wagon.


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