Birthday Boat Picnic


Summer is officially here on the California coast this weekend, we spent a glorious few hours on the water in the harbor of Newport Beach. Our family got together to celebrate my husband’s birthday, and a boat ride and picnic lunch seemed the perfect way to celebrate. The weather couldn’t have been better, sun, with a slight breeze, the perfect boating afternoon.


Newport Beach was incorporated in 1906. In 1870 a steamer named “The Vaquero” made its first trip to a marshy lagoon for trading, and ranch owners in the Lower Bay decided from then on that the area should be called “Newport.” Pacific Electric Railroad established a southern terminus in Newport connecting the beach with downtown Los Angeles in 1905, which furthered city development. In 1906 with a population of 206 citizens, the scattered settlements were incorporated as the City of Newport Beach.


Today, Newport Beach is an upscale, beautiful beach town. The homes that border the water are especially luxurious, and it is always great fun to cruise by on a boat to play “tourist” in our own backyard. All sorts of boats use the harbor, you can see everything from grand yachts, sailboats, little Duffy boats {electric boats}, catamarans and paddle boarders.



We rented an electric boat, and brought our own picnic with us in a basket, a huge bag and a insulated bag. It’s amazing how, even for nine people {three of whom are under 7!} it takes quite a bit of food and drinks to make a celebration, doesn’t it?


I kept the menu easy. At first I had illusions of making everything myself, but in the end I ordered sandwiches, and brought a variety of snacks, one of my daughters brought her famous pasta salad and artichoke dip appetizer, the other brought champagne and wine. I packed what I could as attractively as I could {with me, it’s all about how it looks and tastes!} in a French wicker basket.

I did try to dress up the food service a bit, I tied LifeSavers candies on red twine around the napkins for a nautical theme. I loved them, and thought them so clever, but to be honest, I think it was sort of lost on everyone. I know YOU all appreciate the effort though, right?



Easy Boat Picnic Menu

Artichoke Dip served with crackers, gluten free flax chips and celery

Soppressata and Genoa Salami from Trader Joe’s

Goldfish crackers and Banana Chips for kids

Pasta Salad

A variety of sandwiches from Corner Bakery

Grapes, Lemon Cookies

Champagne, ice tea, waters and apple juice boxes for the kids.


Once on the boat, everyone got a blue plastic basket with a red checked paper liner to fill with their sandwich of choice, fruit, and pasta salad. It was actually a bit more difficult to spread the table in an attractive way than I had anticipated, but when your family is hungry, they don’t really care how it looks, they just want to eat!  The little parchment paper bags were a great addition, I slipped each sandwich in one {you can get them at most large warehouse stores for food service} and they proved to be so handy, especially for the children who weren’t used to eating on a moving dining room!

We had such a fun, fun afternoon! Afterwards, we had a birthday cake in our garden. Happy, happy birthday John, and thank you for all that you do to support me and FrenchGardenHouse!

How do you like to celebrate your family’s birthdays?

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9 thoughts on “Birthday Boat Picnic”

  1. WONDERFUL! It looks great. Newport Beach/Balboa Island is one of my favorite places in the world!
    Michelle (

  2. Wow you made my day.
    We lived in Huntington harbour in the late 90s and went to Newport Beach all the time. Miss calif but all the 11 earth quakes we had. Thank you for posting lovely summer pictures from California. Always love your emails. Celia

    1. Celia, not a huge fan of the earthquakes either. 🙂 But so happy this brought back lovely memories for you of Newport Beach.

  3. Sandra Jean

    Beautiful! Looks like it was a perfect day for it, too.

  4. Hi, I so enjoyed all the photo’s and your family and the food looked so goodddddddddddd, I have been to Newport years ago for a week with friends and they lived there right on the water and of course they had a boat it was heaven just love all the quaint homes so pretty thanks for sharing I love seeing all that you send, `Always, Jean, Ca~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

  5. This looks so beautiful, Lidy! You have a gorgeous family, and this looks like a wonderful afternoon, Happy Birthday to your Mr. FGH.

  6. Looks wonderful Lidy, you are so clever, love the lifesaver napkin rings. It all loves lovely, you are so talented.

  7. What a beautiful birthday and happy belated birthday to your husband, Lidy! I think everything looked beautiful and I definitely appreciated the lifesaver addition on the napkins 🙂

    Newport Beach… Oh how I love it. My mom’s family lives there and when my grandpa, Papa, was alive I used to stay at his house on Harbor Island and we’d go on the ferry to the Fun Zone and play skeet ball at the arcade… such wonderful memories….

    By the way, I know it’s not in Napa, but my mom and I used to stay at The Sonoma Mission Inn. It’s gorgeous, or at least it used to be. I haven’t been there in years.


    1. Those are sweet memories Rue. As soon as my grand babies get a little older, I plan on taking them to the Fun Zone…it’s still going strong! Thanks for the recommendation, I’m going to check the Sonoma Mission Inn out. xo

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