Home Turf Tailgate

Going into one of the biggest games of the football season, our tailgate deserved something fresh. I found myself at Home Depot on the Thursday before the game buying a ginormous strip of AstroTurf to create a unique table runner – the added turf was just the ticket for this tablescape.

I used a chalkboard we usually display in our kitchen (made using an old frame and some spray chalkboard paint) as a canvas for one of my favorite lines in the song “We Are the Boys of Old Florida.” The letters looked nice and bold using chalkboard pens.

Patterned craft paper went the distance to create not only the table’s flag banner but also some mini-flag cupcake topers. I found the “We are #1” toppers at Michael’s, and the mini SEC helmets (which come in a set of all SEC teams) were also a fun addition to the cupcake stand.

My approach to tailgating is no different from planning any other gathering. You must consider things like the guests attending, the number of guests, time of day and flow of the event. Knowing this would be one of the busiest games of the season and with a tailgating window around lunchtime, I opted for grab-n-go foods that didn’t require much fuss or prep for mingling guests.

On the menu:

  • Publix chicken fingers with a side of ranch dressing – manageable and delicious
  • Pepper jelly, cream cheese and Ritz crackers
  • Cucumber sandwiches made with white bread, cucumbers and chive/herbed cream cheese (Just smear a little cream cheese on one side of each slice of bread, add cucumber slices and you’re done!)
  • Seedless grapes
  • Orange-flavored cupcakes (box mix) with whipped frosting (I loved how the orange cake mix showed through the white cupcake liners.)

Added creature comforts such as mints and hand sanitizer help keep guests clean and minty fresh. I was inspired by She’s Kinda Crafty to decorate the pump dispenser – she outdid mine for sure!

We were excited to again use our customized tailgate cups and pom-pom drink stirrers, serving Bloody Marys and sweet tea vodka-lemonades to our family and friends.

Last but not least, my husband’s tailgate contribution may have outshined the whole spread. He brought and chilled the largest bottle of beer I have ever seen, nine liters of St. Feuillien Triple. As someone once said, “Win or lose, we’re here for the booze!” …and the football, friendship and fun! Have a great time tailgating this weekend, wherever you may be!

More tailgate tips:
Tailgate Tune-up
No Celebration Penalties Here!




No Celebration Penalties Here!

Tailgate season is in full swing, and inspiration to spruce up your spread can be found just about anywhere…no matter what your team colors.

During a recent tailgate, a few yards of burlap plus some orange and blue bandanas made for a casual-yet-colorful table dressing. The bandanas ended up being quite versatile, and at just 99 cents each at Hobby Lobby, quite a deal. A couple of clothespins, and presto!

I had to improvise on the location of my flamingo friends. They wouldn’t stand in the gravel but showed perfect posture perched inside the drink bucket.

Daytime cocktails included Bloody Marys, sweet tea vodka with lemonade, and gin and tonic. To hold a smattering of garnish options, including pom-pom drink stirrers, I used some sturdy orange and blue hand-blown glasses.

Customized cups – No celebration penalties here! – were a hit with our tailgate visitors. Visit the Oh My Goodness Goodies section for a coupon code on your own cup orders, plus some fun tailgate tagline ideas!

Extra bandanas helped decorate the food spread, which included the winning pepper jelly-cream cheese-and-cracker combo, sugar cookies, and salmon and herbed cheese pinwheels made from a Williams-Sonoma recipe.

Tailgate tips: A pop-up cooler lined with a trash bag makes a great collapsible, easy-store trash bin for tailgates. Add a paper towel holder to your tabletop for when a cocktail napkin will not do.




The Perfect Pepper Jelly: A Heated Competition

One of my favorite snacks, especially during tailgate season, is pepper jelly with cream cheese and Ritz crackers. It’s a quickly prepped and easily addicting treat with a perfect balance of spicy-sweetness and creamy-crunchiness. There are quite a few delicious pepper jelly options out there, so I recruited a pepper jelly panel to help select the fan-favorite prior to football season.

The Contenders:

  1. Redfearn Pepper JellyProduct of Dixie, GA | Purchased at Tomato Land, Tallahassee, FL
  2. Tomato Land Hot Pepper JellyTomato Land, Tallahassee, FL
  3. Braswell’s Savory Sweet Heat Hot Jalapeno JellyGrocery Store
  4. Braswell’s Select Red Pepper Jelly World Market
  5. Lyman Walker Groves Hot Pepper JellyRoadside Store, Monticello, FL
  6. Palmalito Jalapeno Pepper Jelly Grocery Store

After assembling highly experienced tailgate experts through a Paperless Post invitation, I conducted a semi-scientific study. Each pepper jelly was rated by the panelists with a score between 1 and 10, 1 being less enjoyable and 10 being pepper jelly perfection (multiple jellies could receive the same score).

The table numbers from our wedding (Save yours! They come in handy!) made great jelly identifiers – hand-painted numbers were inserted into the ever-versatile Tolsby frames from IKEA. Some burlap fabric laid over a hat box gave the tablescape some height and created sort of a rustic-veggie-stand texture. Some quick paper dots in peppery colors added to the fun.

Now, before you get all riled up because your favorite pepper jelly was not included, I will say this may just be the preliminary round. If you have a suggested, must-try pepper jelly, please send in your suggestions!

So. Are you ready to learn which jelly reigned supreme? I know the suspense is killing the panelists in particular. You will just have to check back soon to find the winner posted in the Food & Beverage section!




Tailgate Tune-up

We are merely days away from tailgate…excuse me…football season, and as anyone training for a team sport would do, I’m warming up.

I am sure many of you can relate to the excitement felt this time of year, whether you are thousands of miles away or just minutes from your home team’s turf. For my husband and me, our pilgrimage is to Gainesville, Florida, where every home-game Saturday is a little slice of Heaven: old friends, bourbon, Chick-fil-A nuggets, the roar from Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, and the Florida Gators…

Where was I? So, it’s time for a little tailgate tune-up. Dusting off some old favorites, I’ve also added some new equipment this year, including this orange and blue Flamingo couple (yet-to-be named). You can find these little guys in a variety of team colors at www.flamingofans.com.

Embracing the whole “Gators wear jean shorts” notion, I played around with denim fabric atop burlap. No sew – just a little folding here and there, since the frayed edges kind of add to the ‘Merica-chic look.

Another important addition to the tailgate toolbox this year: a food screen (World Market or Bed, Bath & Beyond), since bugs love pepper jelly almost as much as I do. This little contraption takes up relatively no space when folded, and I am sure it will come in handy when needed.

For this next tablescape trial, I was a little open-minded, going for the glitter-gator-hide denim (thank you, mom, for insisting it would be cute), and was pleasantly surprised by how well the fabric transformed into a table runner – also no sew. Finally, I added some “shinier” serving pieces to bring out the silver in the fabric.

More tips and ideas to come. Good luck to everyone this tailgate season!