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Tailgate party game plan

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Everyone loves a tailgate party. But who has time for party-prep and the post-party mess? With these easy-to-tackle tailgate party menu items, serving suggestions and tips for simple cleanup, your tailgate party is sure to score a touchdown without the hassle.

Determine your menu

Finger foods are easy to make, easy to serve, easy to eat and easy to clean up. Just prepare the food at home, put it all in your cooler and head to the game.

Grill it up

It wouldn’t be a tailgate party without a smoking hot grill cooking your family’s favorite foods. Here are some grilled finger foods and on-the-go snacks that your guests can simply grab and eat — no utensils necessary.

Marinated grilling meats

  • Buffalo wings
  • Shrimp on the barbie
  • Chicken wings
  • BBQ ribs

Non-marinated grilling meats

  • Hot dogs
  • Bratwurst
  • Hamburger patties

Make sure to use your meat thermometer to ensure meat has reached proper cooking temperature before serving.

On-the-go snacks

  • Veggie nachos
  • Celery sticks
  • Carrot sticks
  • Chips and dip (offer a variety of dips like ranch, spinach, bean and queso dip)
  • Pigs in a blanket
  • Banana chips
  • Trail mix
  • Deviled eggs

Complement your menu with condiments

  • Burger and hot dog buns
  • Mustard
  • Barbecue sauce
  • Mayonnaise (keep in the cooler at all times)
  • Relish
  • Ketchup
  • Sliced onions
  • Sliced tomatoes
  • Lettuce
  • Salt and pepper

Pack it up

Before you leave for the big game, pack your car with these tailgate essentials:

  • Grill
  • Tongs
  • Charcoal
  • Lighter fluid
  • Cooler(s) — don’t forget the ice
  • Picnic table or plastic table to house your spread
  • Tailgate chairs
  • Tupperware (for leftovers, or for serving)
  • Meat thermometer

Don’t forget accessories in team colors or football themes:

  • Plastic utensils
  • Paper napkins
  • Paper plates
  • Disposable cups

Serve food on plastic football-shaped platters or disposable, durable trays.

While you’re packing your car, don’t forget the tailgate games. Get ready for family fun with a football, Frisbee, baseball and gloves, ladder ball, bean bag toss and more.

Clean it up

Serve your tailgate spread on a disposable plastic tablecloth. When your football fans are finished eating, simply fold the cloth, crumbs and all, and throw it away. Keep plenty of large plastic bags or trash cans near the picnic table or the car to prevent litter. Designate separate bags for recycling. And finally, clean little hands and faces with moist on-the-go wipes.

In no time at all, you can leave your tailgate area as spotless as you found it.

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