IT'S FOOTBALL SEASON... FOUR MONTHS OF GAME DAY TAILGATES, PARTIES, AND TEAM PRIDE. HERE ARE SOME IDEAS TO KEEP IT FRESH, FUN, AND EASY!
VARIATIONS ON A THEME: MIX IT UP…one week Mexican with hats and decor, the next week you can take it to New Orleans with a Mardi Gras menu, the following week make it a Lowcountry crab boil, Italian, Pirate Party, Chili cook-off, beach party, etc. You don't have to go with BBQ, wings, or typical tailgate food every weekend.
MULTI-PURPOSE FOOD: For example, chili works for a variety of different foods... chili pie, tacos, hot dogs, nachos, and more. You can host a chili throwdown where everyone brings a Crock-Pot with their favorite recipe. Add a condiment and hot sauce bar so everyone can add their favorite toppings. Serve chili in individual Fritos or Doritos bags.... yes, serving right in the bag makes yummy Frito chili pie or nachos! This is so good and makes clean up a breeze. Best of all, no dirty dishes to take home.
MY TOP 12 TAILGATING AND GAME DAY TIPS
1. When it is still hot outside, make sure to take an extra cooler filled with ice so you can keep drinks and food items cold and have plenty of clean ice for drinks.
2. Use multi-purpose glasses like the insulated glasses from Tervis Tumblers – they keep hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold. LOVE THEM... especially when I have a party inside. No condensation rings and no broken glass. Plus they go right in the dishwasher.
3. A great way to keep hot food hot is to wrap and store them in a cheap Styrofoam cooler and pack it with newspaper. This will keep it hot until you are ready to serve.
4. Do most of the prep at home so you just have simple assembly or grilling when you get to the stadium.
5. If you don’t want to take a cooler- get a case of your favorite drinks, empty it and line with a white or clear garbage bag and put the drinks back and fill with ice. Afterwards, put the whole thing in the trash. I always double the bag so I don't have any leaks. You can also use a beer carton as a condiment holder. Works great! Save the carton from your next 6-pack!
6. Another use for a cardboard drink carrier- is to use it for a condiment carrier or a dip holder. Next time you go to Starbucks, save the carrier. Keeps dips and dippers organized and neat.
7. Pre-cook what you can. You can even pre-cook ribs and finish them on the grill. Just make sure to keep them well chilled.
8. Get in on the Crock-Pot craze…. Plug it in before you go to bed the night before and you’ve got a good start on lunch when you get there. My super easy Fire Roasted Tomato Chipotle Chili is one of my all-time favorite chili recipes and I've had great reviews from people who have made it. Get the recipe....
9. One of the most frustrating things about going to the game is not being able to find your friends or their tailgate! Use a cluster of helium balloons and fly them way over the top of your tent so your friends can spot you from a distance! I got huge balloons and wrote on them with a marker to define our tailgate and help friends locate us easily. Don't use team colors; use pink or something easy to spot.
10. You don’t have to buy special football items or tableware- you can easily make a football field runner from placemats or some other item. I used a green chenille kitchen rug I got on sale for $4 at Target and lined it with white plastic electrician's tape. I got the numbers at Wal-Mart in the mailbox section but you can get stick-on numbers where you get scrapbook supplies also.
11. Bring items in a large plastic tub. When you are ready to pack up, line the tub with a garbage bag and then put your dirty dishes inside. Makes for super easy clean up when you get home!
12. Make giant sandwiches instead of lots of small sandwiches. Just take a large loaf of bread and make one large sandwich. Slice it up and you are good to go! If you make hot sandwiches, make sure to double the foil on the bottom so you do not burn the bread. Open up the top of the foil for the last few minutes to get the bread toasty. Add a little cheese on top and toast it for some extra yum.