Pop Up Picnic

South Jersey Picnic Company
Quarantine taught us a lot about how we spend our time. Some of us picked up new hobbies- painting, gardening, and bread baking. Others decided that it was the right time to go into business.

Enter South Jersey Picnic Company. Their concept is simple – an aesthetically pleasing picnic on the beach, complete with a charcuterie board, flowers, pillows, a whimsical chalkboard, and a French umbrella.

“I always really had an eye for design and styling. We got married in 2017 and I planned everything, designed everything, worked with vendors,” said Ali Nolan. “It’s fun for me.”

Her twin sister Christy found a picnic business online and showed it to Ali to give her something to do during quarantine.

“Everyone was in that quarantine slump,” Ali said.

She started reaching out to businesses in Australia who do similar things.

“It’s so unique and it’s so different and I feel like there’s nothing like it in South Jersey. I wanted to bring my design skills to something that’s so different,” said Ali. “We live two blocks from the beach. I said [to my husband] ‘Let’s do a test set up, see if I like it, see how I do.’ We did that and it was at sunset and I was like ‘this is amazing.’”

Ali and her husband, Kyle, set up the picnics.

“I can do them by myself. I’m such a perfectionist that it’s good when he comes with me. He pushes me. He puts everything on the table and brings all of the other stuff back to the car. I call him my CCO – chief carrying officer – because he carries everything for me.”

Ali has specific vendors that she uses to create a picnic.

“My packages include a charcuterie board from one of my friends, Kerri (Spreads by Kerri). I was researching who I wanted to use and I saw her aesthetic and it matched mine. I pick and choose who is going to match my aesthetic. For flowers, I use The Flower Company in Marmora. They are amazing. Salty Rose Floral, too, she’s amazing,” Ali said.

The picnics can happen at any time from dark to before dusk. The picnics are like a jigsaw puzzle that come together to form a beautiful scene. The charcuterie board is there, the candles are perfectly placed, the blanket is laid on the ground and the table holds it in place. The pillows are artfully spread, the table runner held down with unlit candles. The center piece, a floral arrangement, makes the tablescape pop. The plates, glasses, and napkins are arranged perfectly. Sprigs of green are threaded into the napkin holders.

“I try to pick a spot where it’s secluded. I usually set up right back near the dunes,” Ali said. “I’m learning as I go for scenery purposes which ones I like. I love the Ventnor Fishing Pier; it’s really pretty. Waverly and North Street are pretty. When I get a booking request, I’ll plug it into Google to see how long the path looks. I tell people that the street might change a little, one or two streets depending where I can find parking.”

Ali finds the items needed for a picnic in a lot of places – Etsy, Target, Home Goods, thrift stores, antique stores, Marshalls, T.J. Maxx, Wayfair, and Amazon.

“There’s a plethora of places online where I’ve found stuff.” Ali said.

Picnickers are asked to describe their picnic vision and color palate on the booking form.

“If someone is going for a boho vibe, I have beads that I’ll put out, napkins rings. There’s little things that I can tailor to what they’re looking for so that I can make it super custom to them,” Ali said.

People will also send her pictures for inspiration.

“I have a lot of anniversaries, a lot of birthdays. I would say they’re the most heavily requested,” said Ali.

In the middle of summer, Ali recommends having a picnic either before beach hours or afterwards.

“I recommend in the summer [having a picnic] after beach hours because of the temperature and beach tags. I don’t provide beach tags,” Ali said.

Her picnics are proving to be a big hit as witnessed when taking pictures of a birthday picnic at 47th Street Beach, Sea Isle City.

“It’s beautiful. You did an awesome job!” said the birthday girl.

See Also
OCTC's Tribute to Frank Sinatra

“It looks beautiful; so nice,” said a passerby.

DIY Picnic

Want to create your own picnic? Here are some tips!

Have food delivered to the beach

Sometimes, the best plans are the simplest ones. Food delivered into your hands without having to sort out the “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service” situation is possibly the best way to end a beach day, regardless of location.

Find a cute centerpiece

Sure, napkins, plates, and cups might make your picnic look perfect. But if you’re picnicking on your porch, why not find (or make) your own centerpiece?

Make something to take with you

No matter where you decide to picnic – house, beach, bay, porch – making a cute keepsake, even if it’s just decorating clam shells, will remind you of your picnic.

-Photos by Ali Nolan & Megan Antosy.

Find this story and more in our July magazine.

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