Food & dining

Picnics with pizzazz

Collapsible cooler from CleverMade
Collapsible cooler from CleverMade

With warm weather finally easing in, it’s time to take it all outside. Picnics can be as simple as PB&J on a park bench or a full spread with candelabras on a handmade quilt on the lawn at Tanglewood. But for easy picnics with a little extra flair, here are some fun and useful new products that can give your outdoor meal some real pizzazz. Karen Campbell

CLEVERMADE COLLAPSIBLE COOLER This space-saving, soft-sided collapsible cooler keeps perishables cold for 36 hours. It holds food and/or up to 50 cans of your favorite beverages plus ice, yet it barely makes a dint for easy packaway storage. $29.99,

5-IN-1 BBQ multi tool

5 IN 1 BBQ MULTI TOOL If you’re connecting with a grill in the great outdoors, this handy tool lets you master the barbecue with ease. You can flip, marinade, and open bottles all with one compact and portable stainless steel and silicone gadget. It opens like a Swiss army knife and has almost as many uses. $29.99,


MATADOR POCKET BLANKET With this nylon blanket, you’ll have a dry, clean place to sit anytime, anywhere. It expands to 64 inches by 44 inches but folds up small and light in an integrated storage pouch (think fat cellphone size) to fit into pocket or purse. Water- and puncture-resistant, it has weighted corners and integrated stakes for windy days. $29.99,

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GRAND TRUNK HAMMOCK For an after-meal siesta, this portable, 100 percent parachute nylon double hammock includes rope kit and carabiners to set up quickly and easily any place you can find two helpful trees. Super roomy and comfy for two, it weighs only 28 ounces but holds up to 400 pounds, and it comes in a variety of gorgeous colors and patterns. $69.95,

LEUS WATERMELON WONDERLAND TOWEL This super absorbent, 100 percent cotton velour towel is not only fetchingly colorful but a must have for quick clean-ups and dry-offs. It’s plush but lightweight and quick dry, a handy 26 inches by 16 inches. $15.99,

YATRA’S AQUATUNE If water is involved, this speaker is a must for those who want to bring their tunes along. It’s waterproof (actually it’s submersible!) super lightweight, synchs wirelessly with devices via Bluetooth for streaming, cranks out 5 watts of sound, and is designed to play for 12 hours before needing a recharge. $39.99,

Panda speaker from Thumbs Up.

THUMBS UP WIRELESS ANIMAL SPEAKER This one’s for the kids. Shaped like pandas or cats or penguins (to name just a few), each fits in your pocket and can put out 2 watts of sound. A built-in microphone allows you to make and receive calls, while the power button doubles up as a shutter remote so you can take selfies from a distance. This could keep kids of all ages entertained for hours. $13.08 and up,


THUMBS UP SOLAR LANTERN And if you end up staying out past dark, this collapsible solar lantern casts a soft but surprisingly illuminating glow, then packs down to the size of a jar lid. Just make sure you give it some time in direct sunlight beforehand. $14.45,

Karen Campbell can be reached at