Picture of Portable Park

I love thrift store shopping and often come across items that just don’t seem to move. The slide carousel is #1. Coffee makers are a strong second. And number 3, is old briefcases. I guess no one wants to look behind the times when it comes to business, so there they sit. I can’t stand to think of anything being left out, so I put my thinking cap on and came up with a way to get them back into circulation . I introduce to you the Portable Park for all your picnic time needs.

If you have a loved one who works in a concrete jungle and doesn’t have the opportunity to go eat with nature, this is just the thing for you to make as a surprise lunch kit. Not super practical for everyday use, but great as a pick me up for a day known to be full of tough meetings. And then once you’ve had your fun, just put it in a window to see if you can keep the grass growing for a little patch of park inside.

*This is a 're-post' of a project I did in 2009 as a guest writer for Design*Sponge:


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Step 1: Supplies

Picture of Supplies

1. an old hard sided briefcase or any kind of case really, preferably one that’s molded plastic so you don’t have to worry about lining it for watering the grass
2. piece of turf cut to size
3. spray adhesive
4. thin ice pack
5. wild life scene printed out to size, or you could also find a little painting that fits
6. cutlery (either standard stainless, fancy silver, or something biodegradable like these WüN guys by Aspenware)
7. a napkin
8. a traditional picnic style plate for nostalgia’s sake and some yummy food bits

How to Make Portable Park Magic:

1. Once you’ve found a case you want to use (I recommend finding one WITH a handle. I didn’t, and it was kind of a pain to work out), get the dimensions of the inside bottom where the grass will go.
2. Call a local supplier of turf and see if they will sell you just that tiny amount. I ended up paying $3 for mine which I think is a pretty good deal.
3. Then set the turf outside on a plastic bag and give it a drink of water. You also might want to run your fingers through it to get the blades standing up again after being flattened by the roll.
4. Next, measure the inside of the case’s lid to get the dimensions for the piece of bristol board or foam core you”ll need to mount your nature scene on. Try and make it so it press fits into the lid. That’s ideal because then you don’t have to mess around with trying to make it stay another way.
5. Use your spray adhesive to mount your nature scene onto the board.

Step 2: Cool It!

Picture of Cool It!
6. Now you’re ready to green up that case. Take your turf and place it in the bottom space. Voila, instant outdoors.

7. When the time has come to pack your lunch up, take the ice sheet out of the freezer and slide it either behind the pockets (as pictured below) or into the largest pocket, if it will fit. This ice, combined with the cooling / insulating powers of the grass, should keep your lunch fresh. (Although I wouldn’t recommend risking sashimi…)

Step 3: Press & Pack!

Picture of Press & Pack!
green space beauty shot wide.jpg
8. After tucking in your ice pack, take your nature scene and press it into place.

9. Build lunch display however you’d like (avoiding runny foods or sauces) and wrap your finished food landscape in plastic wrap. Now you’re all set to go!

Step 4: Show Your Love!

Picture of Show Your Love!
10. Give it to someone you love!
offnot6 months ago

EverGreen grass~

replayreb1 year ago

I thought you should have won the contest. It was the most Spring-centric entry and definitely the most original. Keep 'em coming!

bajablue1 year ago

Love this!

rickysp81 year ago

Wow!! Very fun I would love to see your tiny lawnmower ;)

Ariexis1 year ago
wouldn't the grass die? im guessing you would want to keep it facing a window and water a couple times a week but the water may ruin the briefcase right? Astroturf would last longer but not have the same feel and smell.....
timfiredog1 year ago
Ok, this is just fantastic! My 11 yr old daughter says "awesome" so anything winning approval of her get 3 thumbs up.
Paige Russell (author)  timfiredog1 year ago

Please tell your daughter 'thank you'! : )

This is so awesome! For some reason, from the first picture, I convinced myself this was miniature! I've decided this should be named Portable Personal Picnic Park because I love alliteration!

Alliteration is by far one my favorite forms of writing fun! I agree that that should have been the name. : )

Misac-kun1 year ago

don't forget some ants in the grass to share your meal with.

Paige Russell (author)  Misac-kun1 year ago

Wouldn't be a picnic without 'em!

timojloo1 year ago
When you close the lid and hold the suitcase by the handle, doesnt the turf move around?
Paige Russell (author)  timojloo1 year ago

Hi! Sorry for the slow response. If you find a case that doesn't have a lot of extra space in between the lid and the grass, it actually stays quite nicely. I didn't have an issue with this one. Happy making!

ntaylor151 year ago
Wow 10000000 stars this rocks totally voting

Brilliant! You win! :)

What a cute idea! I'll never go through the thrift shop with quite the same mind-set as before...LOL my friends better look out, they all might be getting something like this! Well done!

Cody68751 year ago
kspeaker1 year ago
hello this is amazing
bob30301 year ago
Very cute and certainly worthy of my vote. Thanks for posting this "Spring Inspired" instructable.
cjs12981 year ago
one of the cleverist things i've seen ob Instructables.
Mielameri1 year ago
What a wonderfully whimsical idea...and a great way to chase away the concrete jungle/winter blues!
billbillt1 year ago

very cool..

jmwells1 year ago
Actually NASA has done a similar thing, tho I'm told it was AstroTurf. Don't want an astronaut freaking out up there. The Air Force put larger similar ones only bigger in bomb shelters for the same reason. Still, a great idea tho. Great work.
ZebraComet1 year ago

Really really cool, nice job!

sunshiine1 year ago

Now how clever is this? Awesome!