For so many years, outdoor picnic tables have been a place of enjoying food, playing card games and sharing stories that have been compiled throughout the week. All of these activities bring a family or group of friends closer together especially the ones you haven’t seen for a long time. This is why parks are crowded over the weekend. Picnics can be casual, comfortable, and fun and you might wonder if there is such a thing as park picnic table etiquette. Whenever there is a huge gathering of people in one place, there is always a possibility of reckless behavior and with such, a personal guideline on how to properly behave on a public area can be implemented.
The Table Mover - When there are a large number of people who want to sit together, getting the chairs and table or moving the whole table to join it with theirs is one flexible option anyone is free to make. There’s nothing wrong with this with a policy of first to come, first served. However, to make it easier for park managers or cleaners to maintain the area with less of their effort, it would be courteous for other users as well if you will bring them back to their original place.
The Table Vandal - For an artist or a graffiti enthusiasts, what better way to express yourself than to draw and doodle on a blank canvas. For any couples who want to profess their love, etching your names on the park picnic table can be an enticing way to let your fellow park visitors show how you really feel. However, bear in mind that a park picnic table is not a blank canvas or a bulletin board: it’s a public property. Same goes if you have children who love to sketch, bring a sheet of Kraft paper and lay it over the table for them to doodle or bring coloring or activity books for them to express their imagination.
The Selfish Space Hoarder - At one point, we are all guilty of putting coolers, bags and other items on seats and tabletops rendering it useless for other people. Similarly, some people use this method to reserve their spot while they play with their dogs or kids. Keep in mind that there are other people like you who went to the park and enjoy a great day. Being considerate of others sometimes has its rewards.
The Litterbug - Be a responsible person and teach your children the right way to use and take care of public spaces. There are trash cans all over the place so there’s no excuse to treat the park as your public dump site. Even better, you can bring your own biodegradable trash bags for your own garbage.
The Snow White - You’re an animal lover and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. It’s great, really. You just have to limit yourself from feeding all the cute guests who come to your table. It’s fun and joyful to feed squirrels, birds or bunnies but the fun wears out when bears, coyotes, and other dangerous wildlife decide to join other people’s party.
The Messy Eater - We’re taught at a young age how to chew with our mouths closed, how to properly use utensils, how to ask nicely to pass food that’s far from you and how to eat without spilling things over. And somehow, you ended up beside some people who have no table manners at all. While there might be no good way to tell a person to change the way they eat without embarrassing them, you can help make things a bit easier. Bring along a tablecloth, one that you frequently use outdoors and don’t mind being stained. Get some tablecloth weights while you’re at it. Bring heavy-duty utensils and not just the cheap kind that breaks easily. Get a chopping board and knife for those grilled steaks. Provide lots of paper napkins for people and remind them to throw their trash properly.
The Bug Killer - Bugs are inevitable and are always uninvited guests to any picnic. The more that your park picnic table is flowing with food, the more likely you are to attract insects. To avoid being irritated and annoyed with bugs, cover your foods with screen dome covers. And take with you a few of insect-repelling plants like mint and marigolds, citronella, and lemongrass. Keeping bugs at bay will prevent you and your kids from catching deadly diseases like dengue and malaria. Properly dispose of your trash to prevent flies from gathering around your table.
The One who Forgot They Have Kids - With so much fun going on, it’s easy to lose track of the kids and get so engaged in the moment. There are so many dangerous strangers waiting to take advantage of these types of situation. To avoid unfortunate mishaps, take turns in watching your kids so that everyone can have fun. Don’t be the person who is so busy having fun that they don’t know their kid is being annoying to other park guests.
The Dog Owner who gives Their Pet too Much Freedom - It’s fun to include pets in family visits to the community park. As some animals like to play in the garden as we have discussed in one of our previous posts, but when it's time for them to do their business while you are in a park, learn to pick up after them. Bring lots of bags to dispose of their droppings properly. Also, remember that you’re visiting a public park and while your cat or dog is a friendly buddy, some people are uncomfortable with the idea of a leash-free animal. Save the off-leash walks for their own park.
Take these tips by heart so you know how to behave appropriately the next time you’re at a public park. It’s nice to have fun and the park is for everyone to enjoy and knowing your limits can have its rewards. Be mindful of others and let them enjoy the outdoor as well.