This Cult-Favorite Kids’ Brand Actually Makes the Best Picnic Blanket of All Time

updated Jun 22, 2020
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Credit: Lauren Kodiak

Outdoor dining season is in full swing and, whether you’re planning a (safe) picnic in your yard, on the beach, or at a public park, eating outside is always better and easier if you’ve got some “picnic gear” handy to make the most of it. Along with a set of melamine plates, a cooler, and a bag for trash, you’ll want some sort of blanket or mat to sit on. And when it comes to that last one, I am Team Mat all the way — specifically Team Gathre Mat. It’s the absolute best one you can get.

If you have kids, you might be familiar with the brand. Founded by two moms, Gathre offers a range of products in their signature vegan, non-toxic leather, from mats of all sizes to bibs, floor cushions, aprons (I have one and love it), and more. Their mats are super popular with parents, as they can be used under a high chair at mealtimes, or on the counter during a baking project, or on the floor for playtime. But I think everyone — parent or not — should own a Gathre mat, as they really shine as a surface for outdoor dining. Here’s why.

They’re easy to clean.

Let’s face it: Anything involving food and drink can be messy. You don’t want to bring out your favorite heirloom linen blanket (or anything you would be sad about staining) for your picnic. And because kids are also messy, you can rest assured that the waterproof Gathre mat was designed to be well-equipped to handle all the spills, sticky hands, and crumbs that accompany picnics. (The company describes their mats as “Think a tarp, only pretty,” which, yes.) If you do need to clean the mat, you simply wipe with a wet rag and soapy water and then let it air-dry.

They’re easy to store.

Once you’re done with the sturdy mat, it easily folds up into a compact square — there’s no contending with a sheet billowing wildly in the wind as you’re trying to fold it. (We’ve all done this at the beach, right?) Tuck the folded mat in a tote and be on your merry way!

You can sit on them or use them as a tablecloth.

The buttery-soft mats are a joy to sit on, but you can also spread them out on a picnic table to use as a makeshift tablecloth. Especially now, as we’re all trying to be mindful of the spaces we touch with our hands, it can feel really nice to have a barrier between the public picnic table and your food.

They’re really beautiful.

If you, like me, love to ‘gram your food, it’s a bonus that these mats are just plain gorgeous. They come in all sorts of beautiful neutral colors and fun limited-edition prints. (And you can get the Maxi size in either Square or Circle!) If you see something you like, snatch it up, though — they sell quickly.

My Favorite Gathre Mats for Outdoor Dining