For Texans, tailgating is a serious business when football season rolls around. For true football fans, the tailgate can be just as important as the game (and, let’s be honest, can be the highlight of the day if your team isn’t playing so well).
So before football season begins, learn what it takes to make the pre-game party a hit — Texan-style. These ideas can help everyone (from Aggies to Longhorns) perfect their tailgate this fall.
So what do you need to throw an awesome tailgate? First, let’s get to the most important part: the food.
Crowd-Pleasers for Your Crowd
As a rule, it’s smart to opt for foods that are easy to eat and bite-sized. Since tailgaters are usually standing, chatting, and holding drinks while eating, the less messy the better. For a traditional outdoor tailgate on a lawn or parking lot, keep things simple and casual to fit the location.
- A cold dip is refreshing in the heat of Texas football season. Keep it cold and fresh by placing the serving bowl over a container of ice. Also, choose a dip that’s not too runny, to avoid spills on shirts! Try this cowboy caviar dip for a flavorful dip that is easy to serve outdoors!
- Whether you prefer spicy or BBQ, chicken wings are the ultimate football food that everyone enjoys. This recipe produces wings just like those from your favorite sports bar.
- At a Texas tailgate, don’t forget to have plenty of chips, salsa, and guacamole. Our tip: pre-measure and chop all the ingredients (except the avocados) and assemble once you arrive for optimal freshness!
- Finally, add something sweet to the table to keep kids (and some adults) happy. These cookies are easy to personalize with sprinkles the color of your home team.
While tailgating is really about the food and conversation, it never hurts to have something that your guests can enjoy during the hours leading up to kickoff. A game or activity that both kids and adults can do will help pass the time and encourage a little friendly competition.
- Cornhole is simple to play, fun to watch, and can be quickly stowed before the game. Go for a custom board and bag set that represents your team.
- Beer and sodas are always great, but take your tailgate to the next level with a specialty cocktail or mocktail based on the day’s game! We love the idea of choosing different drinks based on long-standing rivalries, your team’s mascot or colors, and unique team traditions. Set out all the necessary ingredients (with instructions for how to assemble) and then get creative with the name. Think of a fun play on words that reflects both the game and the drink.
- Here’s a simple Bloody Mary cocktail that will be a hit at your next tailgate. It’s perfect for letting guests customize their drinks with pre-cut garnishes like celery stalks, tomato skewers, and more.
- If you will be tailgating in the morning, consider setting up a mimosa bar with chilled sparkling wine and two to three juice flavors, as well as fresh raspberries and orange slices.
Functional and Inviting
Comfort is crucial when it comes to tailgating. In Texas, tailgate season is usually hot — so creating some much-needed shade should be at the top of your list! Dress up a simple pop-up tent with DIY fabric pennant bunting (or buy one pre-made) in the colors of your home team. This reusable decoration can last you all season!
Here are a few other ideas:
- Set out two coolers: one for beer or sodas and one for water. (And to help guests find what they’re looking for, label the cooler lids.) Bring another smaller cooler for food so guests don’t have to rearrange food containers to look for cold drinks.
- Portable fans are a good idea if you know the day will be a scorcher. Or, have several hand-held fans ready for guests.
- Custom koozies are a relatively inexpensive way to make your tailgate that much more special. Order in bulk before the season and give guests a functional memento when they stop by.
- Forego the basic white plastic tablecloth by going with a football field-inspired one that makes your snack table the true MVP.
Finally, all you need to complete your Texas tailgate is a pair of boots and a cowboy hat, and you’re ready for game day! So tell us — what other tried and true tailgate tips do you have?