Photos by L.G. Patterson
With the start of football season comes the perfect time to throw a great tailgate party to cheer on our own Mizzou Tigers.
So we asked Andrea Lyn Seppo of Andrea Lyn Events to help us come up with your guide to hosting a great tailgate party this season — right in your own backyard! And we partnered with our friends at the Mizzou Store to make sure we had the proper gear to cheer on our Tigers. Simply follow these five tips to get your next party started off right.
1. Timing is Essential
We all know that timing is everything, especially when it comes to a great party. While you can start as early as your heart desires, Seppo suggests a proper tailgate bash begin around 30 minutes before kickoff. And you can keep the party going as late as you like, or you can cap it to as early as 30 minutes after the game ends, she says.
And while the heat will (hopefully) be less of a factor for our fall tailgates, it’s important to remember what time of day it will be during your party. For a late morning or afternoon game, you’ll want to keep in mind the shady areas of your yard. After all, you’ll need to make sure you’ve got seating and/or some of your activities in those cooler spots, as even in September, that Missouri sun can be sweltering.
2. Let the Guests Be Your Guide
The next step is to think about the guest list. Remember to keep it manageable if you actually intend on watching on the game, Seppo says. You’ll need to keep the guest list roughly to the amount of seating you’ll have during the game. “Make sure you have comfortable seating for everyone,” Seppo says. That may mean capping the guest list at about 15.
But will everyone attending be watching the game? That depends on your invite list. Remember that when inviting families, you’ll need to have activities ready for kids or just those not very interested in watching the game closely. We suggest cornhole or washers set up in the backyard, as well as an area for those who want to sit and chat away from the devoted football fans.
Your guest list should also help guide your screen set-up. Are you moving the fans indoors to watch the game? Or are you setting up an outdoor screen? If your guest list is starting to grow, you may even want to consider multiple screens available, Seppo says.
Even your decor plans should come back to your guest list. Are you just inviting a few close friends over to reminisce while cheering on the Tigers? Then maybe you don’t need much. “Decor really depends on who you’re trying to invite,” Seppo says. “If it’s a bunch of dudes, I wouldn’t worry about the decor.”
But if your plans are a bit bigger and “you’re trying to impress and really make a kick, go out on decor,” Seppo says. Do some balloons and add some florals. And, of course, you can’t have too much black and gold. Or even too many Tiger-themed items, Seppo says. The tailgate party is when you can really go overboard with Mizzou pride.
3. It’s All About Prep Work and Stations
Now for the food and drinks. There are so many options!
When planning your menu, Seppo says to think about the time of day the game is being played. If it’s in the afternoon or evening, think standard tailgate fare, the level of which entirely depends on you, your vision and your budget. There’s nothing wrong with keeping it simple with brats and burgers on the grill, along with some chips and other snacks. Or maybe you want to do a few more varied homemade dishes. You can even do a more catered style, with pick up from a few of your favorite game day spots. (Just remember to order in advance when possible.)
But if the game you’re watching is earlier, like the 11 a.m. kickoff at the Sept. 10 game against Kansas State, Seppo suggests a menu that leans more toward brunch.
Whatever route you choose, remember to pick dishes that can be prepped in advance and quickly made ready when it’s time to party. “Do as much prep as you can ahead of time,” Seppo says.
For serving, try to think in terms of stations. Have a snack or food station, where everything is in one spot and a beverage area ready to go. Getting those areas set up ahead of time will help minimize your duties as a host while the party is going on. “It’s all about having these stations set up,” Seppo says. “As a host, you want to have these things ready.”
If you’re hosting a Tiger tailgate, chances are you either went to or are affiliated with Mizzou or have a loved one who at- tended. And those connections are what a great tailgate should always highlight. Break out your favorite Mizzou memorabilia, whether it’s an old jersey, a worn Tiger tail or a favorite good luck charm. Maybe you have some photos of Faurot Field or your own days at Mizzou to show off and reinforce the Tiger spirit. Whatever your tradition is, just make sure to find ways to incorporate it.
“That’s what tailgate is about,” Seppo says. “It’s that tradition, it’s that tried and true feel of this is what Mizzou is. These are our colors and this is what football is.”
5. Have A Backup Plan
No matter how great you’ve planned, something can always go wrong. And in Missouri, it can often be the weather.
So even after the summer heat has died down and you’ve planned the perfect fall tailgate with the best outdoor setup, Seppo says to make sure you have a plan B. “You always have to have a backup,” she says. Know what the plan is if it starts to rain or gets way too windy for outdoor festivities. (We suggest having the living room or TV area ready for watching the game and setting aside another area for activities in case of bad weather. Indoor cornhole anyone?)