Tips for Tailgating

By Donna Long

Rah! Rah! Rah! Sis boom bah! Go team! Go! The school sports season is at hand and it's time for parents to cheer on the team! Our position on the team is "support manager" - be at the game, cheer loudly and feed all those hungry mouths with bottomless pits that we commonly (and lovingly) refer to as teenagers. Is your game plan ready for the onslaught of rallies, practices and games? Perhaps with these tips and easy recipes you can be more organized, and be more creative than you think, given your limited amount of time and space.

Tailgating has been around for years. It can be as simple as a picnic composed of cold sandwiches and salads or as elaborate as lawn chairs, grills, stereos, games and even a throw rug or two. One very appealing aspect of tailgating is that you do not have to clean your house --just your vehicle.

Here are some new plays for your tailgating game plan.

  • Hit them hard with finger foods - sandwich wraps, club sandwiches and pockets. (Score points with recipes found at the end of this article.)
  • Tackle clean up with disposable items like paper plates, paper cups and plastic utensils in team colors and don't receive a penalty by forgetting your garbage bags!
  • Keep the momentum going with simple plays like pre-rolling a napkin around a set of cutlery and tying it closed with a ribbon (all in team colors if possible). Place the cutlery in a football helmet, or a basket or jar.
  • If you do not have a lot of time on your hands - enlist the help of other team parents. Your assistant coaches can help prepare the food, lend their tailgate (portable table), and help set up or clean up. In addition, many grocery stores will prepare trays of food for you for a reasonable fee. Not only do you not have to cook, there is no clean up as well because the trays are disposable. All you need to do is pick it up and set it out.
To keep the crowd cheering and the momentum on your side create a party theme. For a sports theme decorate a field (soccer, football, volleyball, bowling alley, etc.) on a flat cake. Sports cake decorations are available at most craft or cooking stores. Another easy idea is cookies decorated to look like the ball of that sport. If you do not have round cookie cutters, tuna cans work well. Take off both ends of the can and wash. If you need a football cookie bend the can a bit to resemble a football. Rename dishes such as "touch down punch", "grand slam sandwiches" or "home run hoagies".

For extra energy between plays offer candy or chocolate suckers in the shape of soccer balls, footballs, etc. These are great for decorating, awarding as game prizes and handing out as everyone moves on to the "real" game. Look for specific molds, chocolate and packaging in candymaking category at Kitchen Krafts.

Pre-game activities are a great way to build team spirit and start the hootin' and hollering for the game. Split into teams and make up a new cheer or banner. Hold contests for the person that has the most unique outfit displaying the team colors or motto or the person that is closest to guessing the final score.

We all know how much teens like to eat. How about putting their knowledge of food to the test. This game is called "Name That Chip" (or any food that you use). Purchase an assortment of chips and place each one in a plain or regular bowl. Place a piece of masking tape on the bottom of the bowl with the name written on it. See who can correctly guess the most chips. This game can also be played with soda pop, cookies, and crackers or anything else that has many different varieties. Relay races are always fun. Give this race a sports theme such as balancing a bowling pin on their head, dribbling a basketball or soccer ball back and forth. Some other games that can be just as much fun are limbo, twister and piñatas.

With these ideas, helpful hints and recipes I am sure that you will have a great sports season filled with many parties. So, let's go! Give me a P....P! Give me an A.....A! Give me a R....R! Give me a T....T! Give me a Y....Y! What do we have? Party!


  • Honey mustard
  • Mayonnaise
  • 1/4 pound of thinly sliced ham
  • 3/4 pound thinly sliced turkey
  • 1/4 pound thinly sliced pastrami
  • 12 slices whole wheat bread
  • 4 slices Swiss cheese
  • 4 slices American
  • 8 lettuce leaves
  • 8 slices tomato
  • 4 slices bacon
  • 16 pitted ripe olives
Place 3 ounces of ham on each of 4 slices of bread. Top each with 1-teaspoon sauce, 1 slice cheese, a lettuce leaf, and another slice of bread. Place 3 ounces of turkey on each slice, and add 1-teaspoon sauce, lettuce leaf, 2 slices tomato, and 1 slice bacon. Top with remaining slices of bread. Skewer a ripe olive and pimiento stuffed olive on each of 16 wooden picks. Cut each sandwich into 4 triangles, and secure each quarter with a pick. Yield: 8 servings


  • 8 (10 inch) flour tortillas (assorted flavors or colors make a nice display)
  • 8 tablespoons mustard
  • 1 pound of assorted thinly sliced sandwich meats
  • 1 pound of assorted thinly sliced cheese
  • Toothpicks
Spread tortillas with mustard. Layer with meat and cheese, dividing evenly. Roll tortillas jellyroll style, secure with toothpicks and cut diagonally into thirds. Arrange on platter. Makes 8-12 servings.


  • 1 package (10 oz.) refrigerated pizza dough
  • 1/2 cup pizza sauce
  • 18 slices pepperoni, ham or sausage
  • 6 sticks of mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 425° F. coat baking sheet with nonstick cooling spray. Roll out pizza dough on baking sheet to form 12 x 9 inch rectangle. Cut pizza dough into 6 rectangles approximately 4 1/2 x 4 inches. Spread about 1 tablespoon of pizza sauce over center third of each rectangle. Top with 3 slices of meat and 1 stick of cheese. Seal edges over the top of the cheese, pinching the ends closed. Place seam side down on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Makes 6 servings.