Tailgating Ideas

Whether it's in college parking lots or before NFL games, a pre-game tailgating party has become an American ritual. These aren't usually formal events (although I have seen some catered by some of the best restaurants in town), so make your plans around convenience, safety and fun. Here are some tips for a great event with a minimum of labor.
  • Make sure everyone can find you. Hang pennants or Mylar football balloons from your car. Consider a life sized cutout or custom photo ops to mark the location. Not only will your guests find you, but other tailgaters will join the fun. Make sure everyone can find you. A custom made banner will also work.
  • Pack key items that everyone forgets. Chairs for the older folks, corkscrews, bottle openers, tons of paper towels, and garbage bags are some things that are easy to forget and are very helpful.
  • Pack toys: A football to toss around, a Frisbee or even a whiffle ball and bat can all be great fun.
  • Select food that can either be cooked ahead and transported to the event or cooked there on a grill. You can be fancy (one of our friends deep fried a turkey last year and it was fabulous!) but I wouldn't go to all that trouble. Finger foods, sandwiches or anything you can eat standing up is good. If you want steak, think about shish-kebobs. They're delicious, and people don't have to mess with knives and finding a solid spot to cut. Want to take it up a notch? Use the recipes from Emeril and his Manly Man Tailgate Party.
If you really need a good tailgating recipe, here's one that works:

Jimmy's Recipe for Tailgate Beer
  • 1 Cooler
  • 3 Bags Ice (cubes)
  • 1 Case Beer
Remove cans from recyclable cardboard holder. Place cans in a goal post cooler, intermingling with ice cubes. Chill 45 minutes and serve.
  • If you plan to bring alcoholic beverages, check with the stadium first to make sure it's permitted.
  • The food table will be the focal point of your tailgating extravaganza so add some nice touches. Something simple like football platters and snack bowls.
  • I'm big on using recyclables whenever possible, but this is one time you should use disposable football paper goods.
  • Clean up after yourself. Throw away your trash in available trashcans or bags that you've brought along, and safely dispose of any hot coals from your grill. Don't leave a hot grill unattended if you're heading in to the event.
And then walk over to the stadium and root home a winner!! And, did I mention, you can have a tailgating party even if you're NOT going to the game. Set up in the front of your house and just head inside for the game. It's a fun twist on "come over and watch the game"!