With snow on the ground and a beautiful sunny day, it is a perfect time to head to the mountains for an incredible outdoor picnic. The benefits are many: no bugs, plenty of picnic tables with lots of space and the beauty of the mountains that creates a magnificent setting.

Here are a few ideas for planning a picnic on one of those gorgeous days when you feel like getting away for an experience that's fun as well as memorable.

A winter picnic

You probably know the kind of appetite you can build up when sledding, skating, skiing or playing outside in the snow, so a winter picnic may be a good idea! Be sure you bring a poncho to lay over the snow. Cardboard boxes for sitting can later be used for sledding.

Hot box or fireless cooker

For your winter picnic, you need to keep the hot food in a hot box. Choose a box 3 to 4 inches larger than your food container. Place a one-inch stack of newspapers on the bottom of the box. Line each side of the box with an additional one-inch-thick pad of newspapers.

Make sure the food and its container are very hot! A thick aluminum pot or heavy cast-iron kettle with a good lid will help the food retain heat the best. Place the container of hot food in the newspaper-lined box. If the newspapers do not fit snugly around the container, stuff in additional newspapers so the container nests tightly and can't move.

Place at least one inch of newspapers over the top of the food container, then close the box tightly over the newspaper. This insulated box will help keep food hot for at least 3 hours.

Chili in bread bowls

Heat your favorite chili until very hot. Bake or buy 3- to 4-inch hard rolls. Slice off the top quarter of each roll. Hollow out the center of each roll, leaving a 1/2-inch crust to form each bowl. Place in an airtight container or plastic bag. When you are ready to serve, spoon chili into the edible bowls. Stew and thick soups also taste delicious in bread bowls.

Chili dog on a bun

Tie a 12-inch length of dental floss around a hot dog and heat the hot dog in a saucepan with chili. Lower the hot dog into a thermos, leaving the string hanging out the top. Pour the chili around the hot dog and then cap the thermos. Use the end of the floss to pull the hot dog out of the thermos and into a hot dog bun. Take the floss off of the hot dog and spoon the chili onto the bun for a delicious chili dog.

Hot chili chips in a bag

For this chili idea, you'll need either individual bags of corn chips or a large bag of corn chips in a heavy-duty, self-sealing plastic bag. Open the bag and pour hot chili from a thermos over the chips. Use a plastic spoon to enjoy these chili chips in a bag.

Snowman in hot chocolate

Turn two large marshmallows into a snowman to float on your hot chocolate. For each snowman, dip the tip of a toothpick in blue food coloring. Use it to dot eyes and a nose on one marshmallow, and a vertical row of buttons on a second. Use another toothpick dipped in red food coloring to paint the mouth of the snowman. Pack the marshmallows in self-sealing bags or airtight plastic containers. Heat chocolate drink, then pour into thermos. To serve, pour hot chocolate in a cup, then float the two marshmallows together on the hot drink to form your snowman.