Fall in Kentucky means one thing to me—tailgating! What could be better than enjoying a beautiful fall day with great food, friends and family? So whether you are planning a tailgating party for a Kentucky football game or for a day at Keeneland, it’s time to get started formulating your tailgating plan. The following tips will help you add a little extra pizzazz to your tailgating party.

The Decorations: Just because your tailgating party is an outdoors affair, you shouldn’t be limited to paper plates and plastic tablecloths. Using unexpected decorating elements will help you score points with all your guests. For the tailgating party pictured here, I used a simple drum shade chandelier to dress up the dessert table. I designed it so that it could also be hooked to the top of a tailgating tent with a carabiner. Fresh flowers, vases, metal trays, and other serving pieces can also elevate your table to the next level. For fun football table décor, try topping your food table with a mini football field. To achieve the look, cover it with inexpensive grass carpeting from your local home improvement store. White duct tape can be used to make the field lines. You could also make mini goal posts using PVC piping and duct tape. As an alternative, beautiful patterned fabric, such as ikat, quatrefoil, or chevron, in your team’s color would make a fashionable table covering.

The Food: Tailgating food doesn’t have to be just beer and brats (although I do love a good brat). Try mixing up your menu with new items. Kentucky themed items, like a hot brown dip or Kentucky burgoo, can add a regional feel to your menu. Another idea for a memorable meal is to create a signature sauce for your barbeque or other meat. In addition to serving it with your meal, you can bottle it up in small mason jars to give to guests to enjoy at a later time. To add a little excitement to your sweet treats, choose football inspired treats. For the dessert table pictured here, I made “We Bleed Blue” blueberry pie pops, “Scratch Cats” cookies, “Wildcat Spirit” pretzel sticks, “On, On U-of-K” chocolate cupcakes, “Touchdown” strawberries, and a “Go Big Blue” vanilla cake. By sticking to foods that are either football themed or your team’s colors, you can create a unified look for the food table. It is equally important to display your food choices in a welcoming manner. Using varying heights and color coordinated serving dishes is a simple way to achieve an organized look. An important part of any great tailgating party are the beverages (some might even argue it is the most important part). A fun touch is to choose team inspired drinks. For a non-alcoholic drink, bottled blueberry sodas and drinks are a perfect choice. Kentucky themed beers or Big Blue Martinis work well for adult beverage choices. Throwing a fabulous tailgating party requires just a few key steps: some simple table décor, traditional and non traditional food choices, a variety of sweet treats, and plenty of cold drinks. And don’t forget the most important part—plenty of great friends with whom to share it all.

Posted on 2014-08-01 by Deanna Talwalker