October 2, 2017

How to Plan an Unforgettable Backyard Tailgate Bash

Contributing Editor ~ Jordan

Fall means cooler temperatures and football! As the transition period from “summer on vacation” to “winter stuck inside by the fireplace”, fall is perfect for local activities and at-home entertaining with close friends. It's the ideal season for gathering in the backyard with friends, firing up the grill and playing some flag football before the weekend’s big game begins.

Football is an American pastime we all enjoy, and the friendly competition and camaraderie shared with friends, neighbors and family makes for an unforgettable experience. Check out our guide to planning the ultimate backyard tailgate bash. We’re going to show you how to set up a first-time event that turns into a fun tradition that no one wants to miss.
Pick a Game
This is the easy part - who’s your team and when do they play? Most NFL games are on Sunday with a noon Eastern kick-off, but college game schedules vary more widely and may be on Saturday with a later start time. Make sure your game will be televised - ESPN publishes their schedule, and if the team is a local favorite, you can pick it up on local channels.
We suggest planning at least a month in advance. A couple of weeks ahead of a small get together is fine, but a month means most people haven't committed to other plans and gives time for event planning.
Now settle on who to invite. Will it be a neighborhood affair where team loyalties don't matter? Alternatively, do you want to invite your college friends to get together for the homecoming game? Consider whether your guests are young and single, or married with children, as that will affect the party planning.
As far as actual invitations, the farther in advance you plan, the better this is. You can design your owninvitations, and you can create a Facebook group or event just for the occasion and set for invitees only to view.
You might also send an Evite if your friends are connected but not the Facebook type. The benefit of an electronic invitation is that your guests get reminders sent to their phones where they can add the event to their calendar.
Backyard Games
The must-have experience for backyard tailgating is a flag football game! Here’s another good reason to plan in advance - pick up wholesale t shirts and have them preprinted with team names and last names for your guests.
Try cornhole, too! The fun game involves wooden boards and corn-filled sacks and is a ton of fun to play in teams. Here are the instructions for making the boards if they're hard to find in your area, and here are the rules of cornhole.

We recommend some activities just for the kids, too. An inflatable is a fun idea, and this one from Luxe Rentals includes a bouncy house, slide and ball pit. If it’s going to be a hot day, you can hook it up to water to cool down the crew.
Now, we guarantee your company is going to want to watch the game while the grilling continues or fun is had in the backyard. Consider moving your TV outdoors. As long as it's sturdy, a kitchen cart is a good option for storage, or you can get a projector and screen.
We recommend the projector and screen to keep the TV safe, plus, if it rains, then you have indoor and outdoor viewing options. In a pinch without a screen, a white sheet hung strategically functions almost as well.
If no projector is available and moving the TV is not an option, hook up speakers so guests can watch indoors or listen outdoors.
The menu is arguably the most important part of your backyard tailgating bash. The game is pretty important too, but we don't think you can have one without the other!
First, you need a grill and ice chests. Hot dogs and burgers, chili, chips, beer and sodas are standards on a football-themed menu. Some other fun menu items to think about are soft pretzels, chicken wings and a nacho bar.
And here is another idea. What if a lot of your guests love to cook, but there's no room on the grill for everyone? Create a chili cook-off!

A popcorn machine is a clever addition. On the other hand, popcorn is easy to make on the stove or in the microwave, and kids at your bash may love a cotton candy machine! We love the  chicken and waffles trend, too. They're easy to grab and something sweet to add to the menu.
With everything else you've planned, who will even notice the décor? However, if you have time and like to be festive, there are many fun options. For guests who've never been to your house or neighbors who might need the event reminder, markyour entrance with a football theme. This astroturf garland is creative, and we love these football trophy centerpieces.
Rent some tents in case of rain and make sure you have plenty of chairs. You can create inexpensive and fast seating that's easy to store between parties with pallets and bean bags.
Create a Tailgating Club
Now that you've seen how much fun it is to plan and throw a backyard tailgating bash, here's another idea! You have the t-shirts for your flag football teams, and you have decorations, so turn this into a regular event!
Set up a Facebook group for your friends and decide whether you'll continue every tailgate at your place or rotate. Offset costs by making the event potluck or having everyone contribute in a different way - several can bring food, others bring supplies, someone else decorates, and another is the planner and coordinator.
You may even want the event to grow and consider charging a fee. Everyone throws in $30 and stays in the hosting rotation to keep the parties going.
Football season is a time most Americans look forward to every year. It's a relaxing period to spend with family and friends after a busy, hot summer and in preparation for the long, cold winter.
The perfect backyard tailgating bash brings together your friends and neighbors, bonding over favorite teams despite intense rivalries. A football party doesn't require much effort - the focus is on food and football with great friends.
Check out the schedules and pick the game you and your friends won't want to miss and plan the time of your life! You're going to want to turn it into a tailgating club and get together more often!


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