Tackling a Touchdown Tailgate

By Family Features Editorial Syndicate, Special for  USDR

As fall settles in, the air gets crisper and the kids head back to school, many Americans eagerly anticipate one thing: football  season.

Whether you’re a die-hard gridiron fan or prefer to enjoy the food and festivities from the sidelines, everyone can agree that a successful tailgate is key to any memorable game day get-together. According to a recent Bank of America survey, 34 percent of Americans plan to attend a professional or college football game or tailgate this fall, and 20 percent plan to host a tailgate or viewing party  themselves.

While many love planning out meals, decorations and activities for friends and family, the costs can easily add up and make hosting feel like an underdog game. So how can fans plan a tailgate that stays on budget and impresses any crowd – home or away?

Home design and DIY experts Ben and Erin Napier teamed with Bank of America to provide these cost-savvy tips for pulling off a memorable tailgate that fits the bill for every fan on game  day.

Get in the Competitive  Spirit
Whether you’re grilling outside the stadium or spending halftime hanging out in your backyard, Ben recommends laying out a variety of games for guests to  enjoy.

“We take college football season very seriously,” Ben said. “For some friendly, competitive fun before kickoff and during halftime, create a larger-than-life wood-block  game.”

Follow these simple steps:
1. Sand down wooden four-by-fours.
2. Cut into 48 pieces, each 18 inches long.
3. Stack pieces into a tower.
4. Take turns pulling pieces to see who knocks the tower over  first.

For added flair and personalization, Erin suggests painting the wooden blocks your team  colors.

Bring the Stadium to Your Living  Room
If you missed out on tickets or your home team is on the road, you can still make your home feel like a day at the  stadium.

“During tailgates at home, we try to make our friends feel like they’re actually at the game and having as much fun as possible,” Ben  said.

Decorating your home with the team’s colors – such as creating DIY wall art with framed jerseys – is a simple, cost-efficient way to capture the tailgate  essence.

Ben suggests setting up a big screen TV on the deck or outdoor living area with speakers to mimic the feeling of watching a game outside in the stands. For inexpensive, comfy seating that will help welcome guests and add another pop of team spirit, try purchasing throw pillows in your team’s colors from a wholesale club or superstore, but make sure to weatherproof them first using fabric protection  spray.

“We also like to play recordings of our college band before kickoff if we can’t be at the pep rally in person,” Erin  said.

Create a Tailgating Space that Stands  Out
One of the best parts of tailgating at the stadium is being surrounded by fellow fans. Try sprucing up your car or tent to create an inviting space that showcases your team  pride.

Ben recommends investing in a large, custom-designed vinyl or fabric banner for your tent. Not only can they be affordable to produce and last for many seasons, but they stand out in a  crowd.

“Because the banner’s durable, you can use it every year,” Ben said. “Its unique design makes it easy to find after we walk around the tailgate to meet fellow  fans.”

Even when your tailgate screams “Go Team,” it’s important to make everybody – even the opposing team’s fans – feel  welcome.

“Experiencing a big game may be a once in a lifetime experience for them,” Erin said. “Football fans should be all about hospitality, even toward the rival team’s  visitors.”

Defeat Your  Budget
“Planning for a busy football season doesn’t need to be a ‘loss’ for your budget,” Ben said. “Turning to a credit card that rewards you for everyday purchases is one of the easiest ways to ‘win’ this  season.”

Because tailgating throughout the entire football season requires many trips to the grocery store – often buying in bulk – using a card like the BankAmericard Cash Rewards credit card lets you earn 2 percent cash back at wholesale clubs and grocery stores. And 3 percent cash back when gassing up for away games – on up to $2,500 in grocery/wholesale club/gas quarterly spend. You also earn 1 percent back on all other  purchases.

For more information, visit  bankofamerica.com/creditcard.

Develop a Game Plan Before  Cooking
When preparing meals for a large group, planning ahead and using simple recipes are  key.

“We like to plan our meals ahead so that by the time our friends arrive and the game starts, we’re pretty much done in the kitchen,” Ben Napier  said.

A simple, versatile marinade helps keep flavors fresh throughout the football season while avoiding additional  costs.

“For our tailgates, we prefer to stick to the classics,” Ben said. “When we aren’t grilling hot dogs or burgers, we make a big pot of chili in our slow cooker – letting it simmer for a few hours before serving when the game starts. If we’re tailgating at the stadium, we’ll even throw the chili together in a cast iron pot straight on the  grill.”

Do-It-All Marinade
3          parts olive oil
2          parts soy sauce
1          part Worcestershire sauce
1          part balsamic vinegar
lemon juice
Dijon mustard
pepper
garlic powder

In small bowl, combine all ingredients then place in re-sealable plastic  bag.

About Family Features Editorial  Syndicate
Established in 1974, Family Features is a leading provider of free food and lifestyle content for print and online publications. Our articles, photos, videos and web content solutions save you time, money and help create advertising opportunities. Registration is fast and free – with absolutely no obligation. Visit editors.familyfeatures.com for more information.

SOURCE Family Features Editorial  Syndicate

All opinions expressed on USDR are those of the author and not necessarily those of US Daily Review.