#ShareYourSpirit with an At-Home Tailgate Party
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Living in Ann Arbor, it’s hard to escape college football from the constant news coverage to planning your route around town on Saturdays with home games (particularly challenging for some of my daughter’s soccer games). We rarely attend a game between the cost (and availability) of tickets and my daughter’s lack of interest. This year, we’ve decided to celebrate college football with a #ShareYourSpirit At-Home Tailgate.
Sam’s Club is the perfect place to shop for your supplies for a tail-gate party. Not only do they offer a great deal on bulk foods, but they are also a great place to #ShareYourSpirit (at least if you are cheering for one of the local teams). Over the last few weeks, my daughter and I have seen a wide variety of team logo merchandise including clothing, chairs, coolers, apparel, and more. I was tempted by a team Crock-Pot, but I already have far too many.
Shopping for Our Tailgate
A key part of most tail-gate parties is the pot-luck nature of the event. For our contribution, we’re bringing the Coke, Barbecue Shredded Chicken, fruit, chips, and a dessert.
When we went shopping for our tailgate, we had a few food and beverage items on our list and found even more items that paired well thanks to their in-store samples. We started our shopping by stocking up on the 28-pack of Coca-Cola available for only $6.98. Diet Coke is also available for the same price.
Next to the refrigerated section with the boneless, skinless chicken breasts, Sams Club had an in-store sample of corn bread. My daughter and I both liked the sample and decided they would be perfect to serve with the Barbe-Coke shredded chicken. We also bought barbecue sauce and shredded cheese to make our shredded chicken.
As sides for our tail gate, we picked up two varieties of fruit: peaches and strawberries. I love that Sam’s Club carries a number of local brands in addition to the national brands. We added Better Made Chips for a salty treat and Cooper Street Cookies for dessert. My daughter and I tried a few varieties of cookies before settling on the White Chocolate Cherry.
As a frequent Sam’s Club shopper, I have a few Sam’s Club Shopping Hacks:
- Sam’s Club offers easy Order Online and Pick Up in store. No more having to drag the kids through the club looking for purchases for your tailgate or other event.
- Learn when your Club has in-store demos available. Not only did we find a few great products to buy through the demos, but it made a great lunch for my daughter and me.
- When shopping or while waiting in the check-out line, arrange your purchases so that the bar codes are all facing up. This makes it very quick to checkout with a hand-held scanner – I love the self-checkout lanes.
How to Host an At-Home Tailgate
Any tailgate has a few requirements: Friends, Good Food and Drink, and Activities. Each are a key part of an At-Home Tailgate. The steps below show how to plan and hold your at-home tailgate.
Invite Friends and Family
The advantage of an at-home tailgate is that it doesn’t matter what team your friends or family cheer for. You can come together for a tailgate and then retreat to your separate homes (or different rooms if you are a house divided) to watch the games on TV. Just be sure to check the team schedules so you don’t schedule a 1p tailgate before your 3:30 game when your friend’s team plays at noon.
For invitations, I like to create a custom invite and send it via e-mail. I used PicMonkey to create the invitation below (note, this is NOT a real invitation, so don’t show up at my house on Thursday). I started with a jpeg image of a football field as the background texture. I then added my text using the Freshman and EraserDust Fonts and the following color codes: Blue: 01284c, Yellow (Maize): ffd105, White: ffffff. All of the features that I used are available using the free features of PicMonkey.
Prepare the Food
One of the fun things about a tailgate is that everyone brings their own special dish to share. An at-home tailgate gives you more options for food than a traditional tailgate since you don’t have to transport the food and have access to the conveniences of home.
Barbe-Coke Shredded Chicken is the perfect tailgate food. I used my Crock Pot to cook boneless, skinless chicken breasts in Coca-Cola. Once they were done, I used my Kitchen-Aid to shred the chicken (yes, it really works) and refrigerated overnight. On the day of the tailgate, I just warmed the chicken with a mixture of barbecue sauce and Coke in the Crock Pot.
- 3.5 lbs Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
- 1 Can Coca-Cola
- 2 Cans Coca-Cola
- 2 1/2 c Barbecue Sauce (I used Sweet Baby Rays)
- Corn Bread
- Tortilla Chips
- Potato Chips
- Shredded Cheese (I used Kraft Mexican)
- Sour Cream
- Place Chicken Breasts in Slow Cooker and cover with one can of Coca-Cola.
- Cook on high for 3-4 hours until the chicken is cooked throughout and tender.
- Shred the Chicken (I recommend using a Kitchen-Aid Mixer), discard the cooking liquid, and return chicken to Slow Cooker.
- Add one can of Coca-Cola to the shredded Chicken, stir and allow to absorb.
- Then add 2.5 c Barbecue Sauce and an additional can of Coke. Stir and heat on low until sauce and chicken is heated throughout
- Serve on top of corn bread, rolls, tortilla chips, or potato chips. Garnish with shredded cheese, onions, and sour cream to taste.
- Steps 1-3 can be done a day in advance to allow for quicker preparation the morning of an event. Refrigerate the shredded chicken in the slow cooker and allow it to warm slightly before turning the slow cooker on to avoid your crock from breaking due to the sudden change of temperature.
Setup Your At-Home Tailgate
The best part of an at-home tailgate is you are not as restricted space wise as you are in a tailgate lot and don’t have to fit everything you need in a car. At an at-home tailgate, you have access to your full size grill and electricity for small appliances. In preparation for setup, I ran an extension cord from my garage to my party area.
Seating & Decorations
For decorations, I had spiral danglers from previous character parties in blue and yellow. I simply trimmed off the character portion of the danglers and taped them to the frame around our garage. I also taped them to our mailbox to make it easier for guests to find. Other easy decoration options for your party are streamers and balloons.
For seating, I pulled out our camp chairs that we use for soccer games. I love that they have cup holders built into them – perfect for holding our cans of Coke! If I need additional seating, I can move my deck chairs from the back yard to the driveway.
A cooler or an open bucket full of ice is the best way to serve drinks at a tailgate. My parents have the perfect red Coca-Cola beverage buckets for a large gathering that I borrowed for my tailgate. Since I was hosting a small gathering, I flipped a smaller bucket upside down in the bottom and placed a tub on top of it. I then filled the smaller tub with ice and Coke. The 28-pack of Coke that we bought at Sam’s Club is part of the Share a Coke line. Some of our cans were perfect for a football tailgate: Legends, Dreamer, Superstar, Bestie, and Better Half. I’ll probably save the Better Half cans for a half-time drink when my team has a rough first half hoping I’ll get a “Better Second Half”.
I set our food table at the top of the driveway near the garage door. We have an outlet in our garage near the door, so it was easy to run an extension cord under the door and out of any walkway. In placing your table, you may need to consider where your electrical outlet is if you are using slow cookers. Since I was at home I was able to use my football themed serving dishes instead of having to use containers that double as storage and serving dishes. I used a tailgating table, and had a plan to bring a table to the front yard from the deck if I need more room.
Once I had everything ready for the tailgate, I closed the garage door for a nicer backdrop than the inside of our garage.
I wanted to add some activities for our tailgate. I added some chalk for the kids to decorate the driveway. I got the fun started with a football field – driveway squares are perfect for this! I also added some yard games – Disc Golf, Corn Hole, and Bocce…the benefit of having extra space than in a tailgate parking lot. If you don’t have games, you can use chalk and bean bags to make games on the driveway.
The tailgate was so much fun! I am definitely going to plan more of these through the college football season – particularly when the weather isn’t quite as hot as this week – but before it gets frigid at the end of the season. I’ll just have to wait for my daughter’s soccer schedule so I know which weekends will work for us.
Don’t forget to Buy your Coke at Sam’s Club for your at-home tailgate. How would you #ShareYourSpirit and incorporate Coke into your At-Home Tailgate?