Football season is in full swing! And you know what that means…TIME TO TAILGATE! I’m a sucker for themed entertaining, can you tell? I came up with some great tailgating tips that will leave you looking like an absolute gourmet without spending a ton of money or losing a ton of precious time. I shared them on San Diego Living (Go CHARGERS!). In case you missed it, here they are! Warning…even if you don’t love sports, these tips will make you want to become a football fan.
- Make sure your guests can FIND you in the sea of cars in the parking lot… fly a silly balloon high and make sure everyone knows what to look for by texting a pic to your guests.
- Decorate appropriately. It’s all about presentation—and you can decorate even the back of a truck or trunk of a car with team colors, a DYI football field table cloth, football themed serving ware, etc. Don’t miss this chance to show your team spirit.
- Dress the part. Wear your team colors, logo, jersey, and bring some extras for your friends in case they forget. Don’t have extra gear? Bring face paint or colored hair spray, even stickers or temporary tattoos, team color leis and Mardi Gras beads, and let the guests decorate themselves for the big game—always a big hit with kids especially!
- Make your food finger friendly. Keep the amount of utensils you’ll need down and the mess to a minimum by bringing foods that your guests can use their hands to eat. Hamburgers and hot dogs are standard fare, but I suggest skewering meats and marinating them the night before so they’re ready to toss on the grill. Try using different sauces (I like to add a kick with Bibigo Gochujang–the latest “it sauce” of the culinary world) so your tailgate is still gourmet. I also love the idea of a chips/dip buffet (Rojo’s Autentico is great for this, they make salsas in small batches with fresh ingredients and have a classic layered dip that’s to die for!). Put a variety of dips and salsas and chips and even cut veggies in fun football decorated containers (can even use brown construction paper and white paint to turn soup cans or jars into football containers). Lay them all out on a folding table covered in a green DYI football field cloth. Easy to make with any green cloth or “turf” and white electrical tape and stick on numbers that you can pick up at any Target or Home Depot.
- Keep foods HOT and COLD. Bring two coolers—one with frozen water bottles instead of ice (every drop counts with this drought and you can drink the water once it melts if it’s in a bottle), and the other you can heat up bricks in your oven at home (20 minutes should do it!) and wrap them several times in heavy duty tin foil—this way you can keep buns warm, hot dogs hot, etc. and if you have to cook in stages on a smaller grill, everything stays warm until you’re ready to serve.
- Make set up and take down EASY. Use a rolling cart or even a toolbox to store items in. Bungee cord them closed to ensure nothing spills in the car, bring a box of baby wipes for sticky hands, and don’t forget a trash bag!