Tis the BEST season of the year… football season. Growing up in the South, we take football season very seriously and setting up for the occasion is only slightly more casual than setting the table for holiday dinner. We’re talking pulling out grandma’s silver and lining that fold-out table with real linens. Oh yes, it’s time to up the “fancy” on your tailgate party!
Styling a Tailgate Table
First things first, let’s talk about that tailgate table. Most often it’s a fold-out table because you’re either headed to the game itself to tailgate stadium-side or perhaps setting up outside on a patio, porch or common area. No worries, we can jazz up that typical fold-out table in no time.
Speaking of tables, I recommend a 6-foot fold-out table because it gives you a lot of room to spread out your football foods and some decorations too. Of course, you can recreate this idea with smaller tables too.
I am a big believer in choosing 2-3 colors to focus on for your tailgate table, naturally, team colors work great here. My husband went to Auburn so navy and orange are quite popular around here. I went to Vanderbilt so black and gold are my fave. You get the idea.
No need to spend a fortune, just search for solid or simple patterned tablecloths in your team’s colors on Amazon. Plaid always draws my attention because check and plaid has a great collegiate vibe. I love this navy plaid tablecloth, it’s a fabulous one to use for tailgating and then reuse all year-long (even for July 4th)!
What’s the best tailgate tablecloth size?
I like to go big with a tablecloth as far as sizing goes, with a 108″ or 120″ just so I have extra drop to hide those fold-out table legs. Plus, you can always fold a larger tablecloth in half to drape over smaller tables. A larger tablecloth size gives you more flexibility in the long run.
How to make smaller tablecloths work for a large table:
If you can only find a small version of the perfect color and pattern, just use it as an overlay over white. Works every time!
Tailgate in Style
Tailgate Table Decorations
Tailgate Table Flowers
Decoration time! So down South, we treat tailgate tables a bit like any other fancy tablescape, bring on the flowers! So no need for fussy glass vases that might break on the go, I like to opt for unique flower vases like antique metal trophies (or even mint julep cups) that are easy to transport.
Tip for transporting flowers: Don’t fill your flower vase all the way up with water in the car. Keep the water level low to avoid spilling and just top your vase off with water upon arrival. Seems really obvious, but took me a few car mishaps to figure out. Ha!
Decorate with Footballs
I still like to keep things football-focused so grab a few footballs to set around your table, they can be full-sized footballs or smaller decorative footballs like these from Amazon. Lean larger footballs up against florals and set smaller footballs on party platters and trays. They instantly gives any spread that tailgate touch!
Platters & Trays
Your serving pieces help set the mood for your tailgate table so I try to mix different textures and colors together like wood boards and more unique football-shaped trays. I love to add a touch of silver in there like my silver ice bucket filled up with peanuts for snacking.
Don’t be afraid to pull out a few silver platters (have any of grandma’s silver?), jazz it right up! It helps elevate the casual foods and makes even a football game feel super chic.
While I recommend paper napkins for tailgate foods, I do like to tuck in a few fabric napkins or tea towels for both a pop of team color but also to help transport hot foods. It’s these little touches that really bring a table together!
Vary Your Heights
This is a trick my mother has told me about every bar-style tablescape. Vary the heights on the table. For example, you don’t want everything to be flat and at table-level. The florals will add lots of height, but balance it out with a 3-tier tray or a large beverage bucket filled with ice cold beer or drinks.
Football Tailgate Foods
It’s not a tailgate without some game day foods! Here is my ultimate spread!