I realised this when I went on a picnic with a friend and had full-on picnic blanket envy. Hers had a carrying case, a soft cotton top, a water-resistant side that didn't make me want to run in fear, and a cute striped design. It was even padded enough to remind me ever-so-slightly of a duvet. Perfect for lunching like Romans (with juice boxes).
By the time the next picnic rolled around, I was set. Only mine has a cute dot pattern, which coincidentally matches my outdoor dining cushions and pillows, creating picnic happiness in my garden, too.
This particular blanket might not be the height of luxury, mainly because the patterns available aren't as sophisticated as the height of luxury requires. However, they're perfect for anyone with a kid or two on the scene, or an appreciation of bold colours.
Clearly, when selecting a picnic blanket, a water-proof or water-resistant bottom is key. You don't want your picnic to be postponed by a recent rainfall, or a bit of dew still left on the ground. (Uh, this is assuming you're having a breakfast picnic.) What is less clear to me is why so many picnic blankets are fleece and wool. While I have picnicked in cool temperatures, my ideal on-ground meal is in warm enough weather that neither fleece nor wool is adorning anything. This brings me back to my ultimate picnic blanket, above, which has a light cotton top.
Think you need one, too? Then you do. Mine has already paid for itself - which at less than $50USD, wasn't hard to do.