The Key to a Home Tailgate? True Friends.

Fun, fun, fun!!!  That’s the best word to describe our “Home Tailgate” Thursday night for the big game between the University of South Carolina and the University of North Carolina.

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We invited over some of our good friends and had a good ol’ fashioned tailgate.  The only difference is we brought the TV outside instead of going to the stadium in Columbia to watch the game.

What my guests are unaware of is that just a mere hour and a half before their arrival, the yard had not been mowed and was beginning to resemble a forest.  This is my text conversation with my yard guy just three hours before everyone started showing up:

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It was a tough day for me all the way around (not just because of the possibility of losing the cornhole bags in the prairie grass that was beautifully covering my entire 1.5 acres), but since I live in NC a majority of my friends are Tarheels who wanted to razz me all day about who the “real” Carolina is.

In spite of the threat of tall grass (and the nice boob flash I apparently gave to an attorney in my office who just happened to walk in while I was leaning down looking through files), I had a fantastic night with friends!

If there is one thing that is for certain, it is that I am so completely low key.  I love to have parties and I invite people over all of the time, but I do NOT stress over it.  As far as I am concerned, if you are a good enough friend for me to invite over, then you will not judge me if things are not perfect.  Even after all of these years, I think it still shocks my mother at how calm I am even minutes before people pull up.  I know that if I was in a broken down camper with bugs everywhere, then I would still have fun if I had my friends.

Racing home from work, I stopped to get my favorite Lienenkugel’s Summer Shandy to realize that now it is football season, it is not longer summer (insert lost look).  And everyone knows that the secret to a good tailgate is to have a LOT of GOOD beer to enjoy!

The one thing I don't like about football season.

The one thing I don’t like about football season… no more Summer Shandy

So I got home from work and bless sweet Joe’s heart he was running around, still in his work clothes, working his tail off to get things ready and sweating down his nose.  I kept saying, “Baby, go take a shower, don’t worry about that, we’ll handle that later.”  But he kept up his good fight.  I can only assume that he does not share my same attitude about parties.  Or he assumes I will attack him for not getting everything ready.  Which anyone who knows me at ALL knows that I am not like that at all.

But thanks to his hard work, everything was just perfect when our guests began to arrive.

We had plenty of cooler space with lots of ice.  All of our guests brought drinks, so this was very important.  We also provided gatorade for the kids (and we found gatorade bottles all over the yard for days).  We have a handy ice box (with a bottle opener on the side) which works perfect for these events.

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Joe also set the television up outside with all of the chairs.  Although I know plenty of people who do this, this was my first go at taking the TV outside and I have to say it will happen more often!  It was SO MUCH FUN!!!!

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The wings were on the smoker cooking.  Which I have to say, I have never owned a smoker before until Joe and I got married.  What a great thing to have!!  The smoker is perfect for wings and our guests devoured all of the wings that Joe made.

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Gotta have one if you tailgate at home!

So… food.  A good home tailgate requires lots of good food (to go with the good beer).  I have seen plenty of good southern websites on good tailgate food.  Garden & Gun magazine has a great article on tailgate foods… and so does Paula Deen.  I am sure there are plenty more, but I love both of those.

Because our tailgate was also our monthly supper club, we had everyone bring their favorite tailgate food while we prepared wings and hotdogs and pasta salad.  The table was filled with lot of delights from our friends – taco dip, yummy mac and cheese, bacon bites (my personal favorite), hummus, seasoned pretzels and more!  It was a good spread and everyone left satisfied and happy!

We had a lot of kids at our tailgate, so we wanted to make sure the atmosphere was kid-friendly.  We wanted to have activities for the kids to do if they didn’t want to watch the game.

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Kids, kids, everywhere….

Cornhole is a go-to game for tailgating and it’s a game loved by both kids and adults.  Joe made our cornhole boards and although they are heavy, they are much better quality than the cheap boards you buy in the store.  I can’t begin to tell you how much fun it was watching the football game with kids everywhere… playing cornhole, playing basketball, kicking soccer balls, playing hide and seek, riding scooters.  There was truly happiness EVERYWHERE.

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So what is the secret to a home tailgate?

It doesn’t matter what team your friends pull for and it doesn’t even really matter who is playing… if you invite over the people in your life that you enjoy being around… the people who make you laugh… the people who don’t care what you are wearing or if your kitchen floor is sticky… then your tailgate will be a success.

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My handsome husband and me… enjoying our evening together.

Because while the food is important and the game is what brings you together, it is your friendships that will make it a success.

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