For a few months each fall, Saturdays are dedicated to college football. Few can escape the spirit in the air, and for many, football season offers the opportunity to enjoy tailgating events packed with good food, drinks and pleasant company.
The ideal football-watching party most often includes cold drinks, tasty finger foods and a big screen on which to watch the game.
Caroline Carter, a local event planner, offered up a few suggestions to make the next football party a relaxed, enjoyable event.
Pimento cheese and crackers — spread out in the shape of a football — make a great snack option, she said.
Tailgate staples like grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, buffalo wings and barbeque always please the crowd as well.
“I’ve seen something where you can do what’s called a barbecue sundae,” said Carter, who owns Caroline Carter Events on St. Simons Island. “It’s so cute. It’s a mason jar, and the bottom layer can be something like baked beans. Then cole slaw next, with the barbecue at the top, and it’s topped with a dill pickle.”
Southern favorites — barbecue, shrimp, cold beer — will make for a delicious tailgate spread.
“Definitely at our house, we always have boiled peanuts,” she said.
She suggested decorating with a freshly cut piece of astroturf, which can be purchased cheaply, laid across the table.
“You can use a chalk pen to do your field lines … and it’s easy to throw in the trash when you’re done,” Carter said.
She recommended having buckets iced down with several types of beer. She also suggested putting together a Bloody Mary bar, with the toppings and fixings set up for self service.
“If you have the party at your home, it’s great to have the indoor-outdoor flow, where you have your patio open so people can spill in or out,” she said.
A truck can be parked out back, with the tailgate open, where the party host can set up an outdoor bar as well.
“That’s something fun and something different,” Carter said.
Avery Smith, a local fan of the Georgia Bulldogs, looks for good food and good company at any tailgate party she attends.
“I like — and it’s really random, but it’s great for parties — Jimmy Carter cheese rings,” Smith said. “Literally all it is, is cheese, onions, pecans and mayonnaise, with strawberry jelly in the middle that you eat with crackers. It’s so good.”
Smith, who helps manage Roberta’s, a gift and apparel store in the Pier Village on St. Simons Island, said football season always brings fun times for fans. And since the store opened in 1947, it’s been a prime place to shop for football decorations, clothes and paraphernalia.
Each fall, the store creates a red-and-black-filled display in a tree in the front window.
“We carry shoes, hats, our flamingos, we have tons of Georgia Tervis tumblers,” Smith said. “… We also carry tons of red and black pom-poms, megaphones, flags, lanyards. They have to have clear bags for the games now, so we carry those.”
Georgia football is ingrained in the culture of the store, which has been in Smith’s family since 1947, when her great-grandfather, and UGA Football Hall of Fame player, Lamar ‘Racehorse’ Davis bought it for her great-grandmother.
Smith recommended anyone in need of decorations for a tailgate party or red-and-black paraphernalia for a trip to a game in Athens should stop by the store.
“We’re going to be getting more stuff too,” she said. “We steadily get it in up until almost the last day of the season.”
Tailgate parties can be laid-back affairs, Carter said. All the host needs are the typical favorite foods, drinks and some football fans.
“I always say when you’re doing a party at your house, especially for a football theme or anything with sports, it should be really simple and laid back — nothing too over-the-top or thought out,” she said.