Setting Up A Tailgate Party

setting up a tailgate party

Football season is in full swing and every Saturday I see friends posting on Facebook, pictures of their tailgating fun. Being from North Carolina originally, college sports is a BIG deal with teams like Duke, UNC, NC State, and my Alma Mater, ECU. I wish we had more opportunities to go to some of the games, but for now we’ll have to settle on ‘homegating instead.

I created this tailgate spread a couple of weeks ago when we invited some friends over on a Sunday to watch the pro games {it’s also shared as part of the series I’m doing for}. I used our friend’s truck to set up a stylish tailgate buffet that even the guys were impressed by. Take a look at the photos and read my tips for hosting your own tailgating party whether at the stadium or in your own driveway…

Setting Up A Tailgate Party With Style

  • First rule of thumb is to use your teams colors in the decor. I used a red throw and a plaid fabric as a layered ‘table cloth’.
  • Using rustic organic items in the display adds that ‘on-the-go’ feel of tailgating, plus the crates and basket double as storage while traveling to the stadium.
  • Fill a basket with cheering paraphernalia like poms, megaphones, & pennants, and let guests use them during the game. They can also be used as ‘photo props.
  • Provide easy nibbles & snacks to grab and go, like bags of popcorn, chips, or trail mix.
  • A color coordinated punch {adult version, or kid-friendly} becomes a centerpiece when you serve it from a dispenser.
  • Serve chili in up-cycled cans. They are great vessels and can be thrown away for easy clean up. I wrapped these with corrugated paper similar to coffee cup wraps, to keep your hands from getting hot. TIP: Add a couple of glue dots to keep the band in place, or make sure you tie it on very snug so your can doesn’t slip out {party foul!}.
  • Serve a variety of small sandwiches that are wrapped in colored paper and twine.
  • I found football shaped Oreos so of course I had to add these to the spread.
  • If you’re tailgating at home or on the road, it’s fun to have activities for guests to do. Some classic favorites are corn hole, bocce, ladder ball, and football for tossing.
  • Need food ideas?  Try my favorite bacon appetizers {for those early morning games}, or fiesta chili recipes.

There you have it – 10 ways to add style to your tailgate party. What’s your favorite?

For more inspiration, follow me on Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook. Cheers!


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About Chris

Chris Nease is a party stylist and home entertaining expert with over 15 years of experience. In addition to her work as founding editor of Celebrations At Home, Chris is an editorial stylist and has contributed to, SheKnows, and countless other websites. Most recently she was featured in Celebrate magazine, and her work has been published in Woman's World, Ocala Style, Yum Food & Fun for Kids, and Cottages & Bungalows.


  1. I was looking for tips online and found your site! Seriously though, our football party this weekend is going to be much better with the advice you gave. Something I learned last year; have more than one game for the guests to watch! I tried this last year to great success, but was only able to have two TVs going. This year will be different though, now that I have the Hopper. It will be even easier, as the Hopper has three tuners, which will allow me to watch three different games, live, on three separate TVs at the same time. People are so varied in which team they support; this will give everyone a chance to see theirs in action!

    • You’re exactly right, Parker. The more games available, the happier your guests are. My husband got the Hopper too 😀

      • Nice! I love this thing. My guests were pretty impressed too, but I think I unintentionally backed myself into the perma-host position LOL!

  2. We love your idea to serve chili in “up-cycled” cans! What a cute idea! Thanks for the great tip, we’re sharing!


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