Tailgating is a big production at our house whether we’re at home or at the stadium. We don’t live all that close to our alma maters and favorite teams, so every weekend that we’re home, we plan out our menu with a theme and invite some friends and neighbors over for game watching and home tailgating with food and fun.
Today I wanted to share a few of my tips and favorites for creating a great tailgate at home, and taking it on the road—if you’re lucky enough to be close to your favorite team!
Home Tailgating: The Setup
As I mentioned, we pick a weekly theme for home tailgating, and it’s usually based on the food or whichever team of ours has the biggest game that week. In planning our kickoff to the season, we stick to the basics and have a great cookout. That means we’ll set up a big table outside (with a backup plan inside in case of rain) with a “field” green table runner, team colored napkins and some little football-themed decorations. We also make sure to have a beverage set up with dispensers of lemonade and water, along with a nice big cooler full of beer and sodas.
When we take the party on the road to the stadium, we set up a covered tent with lots of chairs. The same table and “field” table set up comes along, but we stick with coolers, drink buckets and lots of acrylic glassware and tableware to avoid any accidents.
One of my favorite tailgate menus is good ol’ Texas barbecue. We have an electric smoker that does most of the work for us, and we really enjoy watching games and going out to check on dinner throughout the day. One of our favorite things to make is a smoked turkey with traditional gameday sides like cole slaw (this one has a really light dressing that isn’t too messy), potato salad, and chips with salsa and homemade guacamole.
I have a huge sweet tooth, so I can’t plan a game day menu without dessert. I love to make cupcakes in team colors, and make little flags for our teams to go with them, or football-shaped, frosted sugar cookies, either of which is great for at-home consumption or is easily transported if you’re on the go!
If you do travel to the games, this menu is easy to prep in advance and portable. We pack up our food in travel containers, BBQ sauces in cute little Mason jars, and load everything into coolers and picnic baskets (like this one that makes it easy on you because it comes with all of the utensils you need).
Whether at home or on the road, tailgating is about food, friends, fun and enjoying a great game. I think the reason I enjoy football season the most is that it brings so many of our friends together. Everyone plans to come decked out in their favorite team gear and we get to learn about traditions from teams and schools around the country. Our family’s game day tradition includes the Florida State Seminole tomahawk chop, watching the Texas A&M Fighting Aggie band and counting on the luck of the Notre Dame Irish to win every week.
What’s your favorite team? Do you have a tailgate tradition? Happy football season!
Photo for field tabletop via From Scratch.