Anyone can wear a logo sweatshirt or a giant foam finger. In fact, who doesn’t? But in the spirit of competitive sports, why not score some tailgating points with a few unexpected plays? With tailgating season upon us, I scoured the web for fun tailgating ideas, from recipes to games to decorations. Here are some of my favorites:
1. Turn Your Buffet Table into a Football Field Ask the “Hostess with the Mostess” how to decorate for a tailgate party and Jenn Sbranti, founder of the popular party blog, has plenty of ideas. One of my fav’s is the football field table cover. Sbranti explains, “Make a bold statement by covering your main buffet area with inexpensive artificial grass in order to mimic the look of a football field. Artificial turf is available at home stores like Home Depot and Lowes, and they can cut it down to size for you. Dark green felt or fabric will also work as an alternative option. Use white ribbon to add “yard lines”, or paint them on if you’re feeling extra crafty.”
2. Bake a Football Shaped Cake Liz Ward, contributor to eHow, promises that cakes shaped and decorated like footballs are easy to make. (One might say “easy as pie” to make. Er … make that “a piece of cake” to make.) “You don’t need special pans or recipes to make football shaped cakes,” writes Ward. “And it doesn’t take a professional cake decorator to get professional results.” Link here to get a recipe for chocolate cake as well as decorating instructions.
3. Make Your Own Cornhole Game Cornhole has become the most popular pastime at tailgating parties, second only to the consumption of food and beverages. You can purchase a custom cornhole game, resplendent with your team colors from companies such as Victory Tailgate. Or you handy folks who have a saw and some sandpaper – and know how to use them – can construct your own. Download free diagrams and instructions to build your own cornhole game set. Learn more about cornhole, what it is and how to play, as well as the official rules from the American Cornhole Association (yes, there is such a thing!). More about playing the hottest new tailgating game here.
4. Serve Buffalo Chicken Cupcakes Touchdown! What’s not to love about this recipe? What started out as something of a joke, turned into a great, crowd-pleasing recipe. Served as an appetizer, the cupcakes – which include hot sauce and blue cheese in the batter – are topped with your favorite chicken wings. They’re sweet, because they are also made with sugar, but not as sugary as say a double- chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting and chocolate sprinkles would be. Note: They are only as spicy as you choose to make them. Give them a try and let me know how it goes! Get the recipe here.
5. Customize your Cocktails I’ve seen several ways to give your drinks a little extra splash this season, including Astroturf coozies, sweet and simple labels to keep things straight, and – my fav – colorful drinks served in mason jars, dyed with a school color, and topped with a cupcake liner.
6. Convert the Back of Your Car into a Cocktail Bar Of the 41 tailgating ideas that BuzzFeed dubbed “borderline genius,” the cocktail bar most exemplifies the reason tailgaters can get a bad rap for inebriated guests. That said, it’s a cool idea. With a set of wooden shelves, you can store bottles, mixers, glasses, paper towels, ice bucket, etc. for easy access. (Please drink responsibly.) You could do the same with condiments, plates, cups, bowls, napkins, tongs, silverware, etc. to make your grilling station the most convenient kitchen in the parking lot.
7. Set Up a Convenient, 90-Degree Kitchen Space
Speaking of a grilling station … by using a hitch-mounted grill on a pivoting frame, you can create the perfect grilling kitchen for your tailgate party. With complete access to the back of your vehicle – where you’ve stored coolers, condiments and chairs – you’ll be able to reach, grill and serve in your own personal tailgating kitchen. The Tailgate Grill Station includes a Cuisinart Grill (available in 3 colors) that runs on propane, and a jumbo-sized, commercial-grade cutting board. Stow the cutting board on the bottom of the rack and you have plenty of room to haul the cooler on the back of your rig, because the rack supports over 200 pounds.
Extra Point: Decorate Your Cooler
Here’s one more great idea for your tailgate party: Decorate the cooler. Your cooler can be so much more than a place to store cold food and beverages when you paint it with your team spirit. Here’s a tutorial on painting coolers, which gives you the inside tips on making paint stick to plastic.
A little extra effort earns you lots of extra points at your tailgate party. For more tailgating ideas, games and recipes, join us on Facebook.