How to Tailgate from Home

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by Kristina Domitrovich
photos by Lindsay Pace 

With so much about the 2020 seeason still in the air, there’s one thing that doesn’t have to be in question: Tailgating. Sure, it will look different, but with a little planning and forethought, you and yours can still have a great time, even if the tailgate is from your own home.

We chatted with two event planners, Ellen Thomas of Ellen Thomas Event Planning in Oxford, and Erin Stubbs of Busy Lad in Tupelo, to get the ins and outs of how to make the best of a tailgating-from-home situation.

1. Where to Splurge

If you’re tailgating on a budget, decide what element is most important, and splurge on that. For a lot of people, the food takes the show, so Thomas suggests splurging on a caterer, especially for those who don’t like to cook.

“If you’re not a big cook or if you don’t like to cook, then don’t do it,” Thomas said.

But for those who love to cook, Stubbs recommends catering just the main course (think: meats) if needed; while you and your guests can make sides, pot-luck style. She suggested dropping the bucks on a projector and screen.

“It gives you that LIVE experience of being at the game,” she said. Plus, she added, “projectors can easily plug into your cable or satellite box.”

2. The Setting

This one depends on the time of the game, your backyard and the weather. Definitely set it up outside if you can. If it’s a bigger game, Stubbs and Thomas suggested maybe even renting a tent for the yard, to really feel like you’re tailgating outside the stadium.

3. Think about the clean up

One of the biggest ways hosts can set themselves up for failure is by not preemptively planning the break-down process. Have plenty of trash cans set up in your backyard for your guests to help you out throughout the day, instead of piling up their garbage on a table. As for serving dishes, if you reach out to a caterer, Stubbs said to just scoop out any leftover food, and the company will take care of cleaning the rest.

4. Don’t be afraid to get too classy with it

Thomas said that sprucing up a tailgate is a lot of fun, and can be done by using what you already have. Grab that pottery to use as your plates; if you don’t have enough for everyone, she said don’t be afraid to mix and match, as that can be a lot of fun! This can be particularly great for those early games, where you can coordinate a brunch for your tailgate.

5. Think about the holidays

For the Egg Bowl, Thomas recommended going all out for Thanksgiving. Plan for a formal dinner, “the whole shebang.” Keep in mind that Halloween will also be on a Saturday this year, so Thomas suggested hosting a costume tailgate and making the most of it.

6. Don’t forget the décor

At the beginning of the season, there’s still plenty of greenery. Thomas said this is a free option to add decorative elements to your set up, which can likely be clipped from your own backyard. Later in the fall, don’t forget that pumpkins are an easy, inexpensive decorating staple. Stubbs added not to forget your team’s colors, of course! She said true fans will already have some of these elements in their home, so just bring them out for the table.

7. Overall, just have fun

“Just have fun,” Thomas said. “With all of this going on, it’s about relaxing and being around the ones that you love, and not stressing about anything because it’s really all about the comfort of your own home … Just relax and have fun, and why not watch football while you’re doing it?”

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