Tailgate & Entertain in Style
Invitations Set the Mood
To set the perfect tone for your party, lifestyle blogger Sherrie Fabrizi Allbritten suggests using an online invitation service such as Evite to customize your invitations with a football theme. You can also create a Facebook Event or Facebook Group to send out invitations, collect RSVPs, and get everyone in the mood by encouraging them to wear team colors.
Create a party box to hold all of your tailgating supplies. “That way, you’re not recreating the wheel each week,” says outdoor design expert Joe Raboine. If you’re planning to host football parties frequently, splurge on higher-quality decorations and color-coordinated serving bowls, trays and utensils. “You’ll end up saving money in the long run versus buying throw-away items for each event,” notes Raboine. String festive lighting around the yard that will work just as well for holiday gatherings as it will for tailgating, and you’ll be ahead of the game.
For a great photo op, purchase a football field backdrop online or at a party supply store. Tack it to the wall, and when your guests arrive, have them stop in front of the “field” for a game-day photo. To keep the football decor going, make your own runner or tablecloth by using dark green wrapping paper and white artist’s tape to mimic a football field. Cut the wrapping paper so it fits the length of your table, measure and mark yard lines with a pencil, then cut and stick the tape throughout.
Festive Food Ideas
Carry the football theme through your refreshments. Allbritten likes to print images of footballs, team helmets and pompoms, and glue them to the front and back of popsicle sticks to insert in dips as a decorative touch. You can also turn a loaf of pumpernickel bread into a dip-holding football.
“Ask your bakery if they can make a 2lb loaf into a shape of a football,” suggests Allbritten. “Then cut the top off, scoop out the bread, make your favorite dip, fill the bread football, and place the loaf on an artificial grass square.”
Set up a table with insulated beverage holders, like koozies, that go with your party theme, perhaps in your home team’s colors. Have your guests write their names with permanent marker on their containers so they can take them home as a favor. “As an added bonus, this also cuts down on wasting drinks when guests forget where they’ve placed them, and helps save your furniture from rings,” adds Allbritten.
The best tailgate parties feature games that inspire conversation and laughter, like cornhole, giant Jenga, horseshoes or Frisbee. If you’re entertaining at home and have an outdoor fireplace or a fire pit, Raboine likes the idea of setting up a s’mores bar where everyone can roast marshmallows and add creative ingredients such as cookies, ginger snaps, Nutella, peanut butter cups and, of course, graham crackers and chocolate. If you’re stadium tailgating, a small grill will do the trick to roast marshmallows as well.
Watching the Big Game
If you’re tailgating at home but want the authentic outdoor football-viewing experience, consider investing in an outdoor projection screen, suggests Raboine. For alternate home viewing options, set up multiple viewing areas around several TVs, or create stadium-style seating around the TV by arranging seating options, from chairs to bar stools, according to height. A front row with pillows makes a cozy perch for kids.
The tailgater’s secret, though, is that not all guests are into the game. Some want to enjoy the company and food, and retreat when the yelling at the refs begins. Make sure they have a relatively quiet space to retreat to when the cheers — or groans — get too loud.
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