Dog Days of Summer

Event Planner Miss Party Mama steps up your (pet-friendly) picnic game.
March 26, 2024

Cover illustration by Jenny Gunter

Photos by Agness Photography

Fetch your favorite friends and head to the shore. There’s no better way to celebrate summer than with a quintessentially-Carmel beach picnic, full of sunshine, crisp wines and deliciously dog-friendly details, of course. Event planner Kelly Smorzewski of MISS PARTY MAMA shares her tips for planning the perfect sand-soiree, from seating to snacks, and everything in between. We’re taking inspiration from her micro-celebration with its nautical nods and salty little sea dogs, too.

- Angela Salazar

Planning the Perfect (Pet-Friendly) Beach Picnic



“We’re lucky to have so many incredible beaches here on the Monterey Peninsula—from rocky seashores to endless sand, interesting tide pools and beautiful bayside views. The perfect location is probably the one where you have easy access. Think about parking, stairs and how far your walk will be if you’re carrying supplies.”


“All beach areas are a bit different across Monterey County. If you’re having an important event, research in advance to make sure your ideal location is available and no permits are needed. If you’re having a casual affair and you’re open to any spot on the sand, you should be able to set up on most beaches in the area.”


“The Peninsula is full of microclimates. Always wear layers and keep a coat or blanket in your car, just in case. Tell guests to do the same, and wear sunscreen and a hat (overcast beach days can be deceptive). Bring extra blankets to cozy up if you plan to stay for sunset—which I highly recommend!”


“What to bring depends on how fancy you want to get and how much you want to carry. A floor picnic with a blanket and pillows is always fun and easy. There are also portable tables that come in their own bag for easy transport. Beach umbrellas and lounge chairs make for more comfortable seating and shade, and create an inviting spot. Adding games, frisbee, balls or a sandcastle build always makes for a fun day.”


“Bring an ice chest for your beverages and a closed picnic basket or bag. The seagulls are pretty bold on the Peninsula! Baby wipes, paper towels, extra water and hand sanitizer are also helpful for cleaning sandy hands. And make sure to pack extra trash bags—let’s leave the beach nicer than when we arrived.”


“The Peninsula is such a dog friendly community but my biggest advice with fur babies is simply to watch them. Make sure they are on leash or next to you at all times. Always carry extra waste bags and clean up after them right away. Bring extra training treats and feed them prior to arrival so no issues arise with meals and other dogs. And, only include dogs that get along well with others.”  


Event Design & Planning: Miss Party Mama 
Agness Biederman Photography 
Picnic Stylist:
Hazel + Luna Events 
Embroidered Napkins:
Nothing Butts Style 
Charcuterie Platter:
Platter Bites 
Caraccioli Cellars 
Ruby Cakes of Monterey 
Sweet Bliss Bakeshop 
Live Event Illustrator:
Jenny Gunter 
Dog Cookies & Accessories:
Carmel Dog Shop

Light bites, like this charcuterie plate by Platter Bites, are ideal for picnics. No utensils required. Prep sweet and salty favorites in advance for easy entertaining. Think prosciutto, artisan cheeses, seasonal fruits, honey, nuts and olives. Pre-made sandwiches and salad wraps (sans mayo, which spoils quickly) also work well at the beach.

Custom embroidery adds an extra special touch to any table. Smorzewski paired a “by the sea” message with ocean-inspired details, like a sand dollar napkin holder, to celebrate the beach backdrop.

Nothing says summer like toasting with a glass of bubbly by the beach. Choose a local favorite, like this Brut Cuvée from Caraccioli Cellars, for true Carmel flavor.

Smorzewski’s French Bulldog was recently adopted from the SPCA Monterey County. Search their adoptable pets to find your forever friend.

Something sweet is always a must. Ruby Cakes of Monterey and Sweet Bliss Bakeshop both took inspiration from the sandy setting for their custom cake and cookies.

Don’t forget your littlest guests. Pick up display-worthy treats from Carmel Dog Shop to keep pups happy, too.

Put away the phones and opt for plein air illustrations instead. Live event illustrator Jenny Gunter offers a unique way to capture moments that matter—and a fun takeaway for guests. <img src=""alt="CC"height="20" width="20">

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