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Tailgate Party!

Are you ready for some football?!?   Take "time-out" to read the how-to's and suggestions for this fun Tailgate Party that I hosted last week in my retirement community. In our community we host a pre-dinner party with appetizers, then the residents go into dinner and have a special meal based upon the theme of the theme of the evening, followed by a show in the auditorium after dinner, again based upon the theme. 


  • Tailgate food is a must. 5-layer taco dip, chips, mozzzerlla sticks, pigs in a blanket, deviled eggs, watermelon wedges, etc.
  • Serve food from football theme trays, bowls
  • Put drinks in coolers and serve them from there. (no bowl of punch here)
  • Decorate with pennants that are general in nature or NFL specific
  • Decorate with hanging football theme decorations
  • Decorate with Megaphones
  • Use a real truck if it will fit into your space to serve off of 
  • Decorations with footballs, referees, football players, etc
  • Buy themed paper goods 
  • Ask residents to wear their favorite team's apparel or colors 
  • For entertainment, host a team trivia game
  • Invite non-participants of the team trivia game to be the cheerleaders. Give them pom-poms and a team to cheer for.
  • Be the cheerleader's leader and stir the audience up after each right answer
  • Plan earlier than the usual time frame for this kind of party if you are going to take it the next level of excitement. This might mean contacting a high school or college at the end of the school year and getting it lined up for the following school year, because this theme night works best in September.... the beginning of football season, and that is the start of school. 
  • Contact your local football teams. Start with the pros, then colleges, and then your area's high school.
  • Contact your local cheerleaders from the teams as listed above
  • Bring the football team's mascot
  • Once you know that a certain team is coming, encourage residents who don't have a team to support to wear that team's colors for the night
  • Offer the guests a meal if it is possible. You could invite them to eat with the residents so they can interact with each other. This would require pre-planning for success.
  • Offer the guests PUBLICITY for them being in your community.
  • If the guests are students, offer them community service hours if the students require them for graduation - and you are an eligible business (non-profit, etc.)
  • Show a good football movie if you'd rather instead of team trivia
  • Host this event before a football game that you take the community to or that you are going to watch on the big screen in your community (ie. the Super Bowl)
The Tailgating theme night was easy to do in its basic concept and the residents enjoyed it. They enjoyed dressing in their team's apparel. I watched as conversations were started over the jersey they had on with women who don't usually have much contact. It was a time of pride for some as they wore their college team's shirts. 

I did learn two lessons from this program. The first is what would be clear to understand as I shared the suggestions above: plan this in advance or you might end up with just the basics! And the other is if you are promoting a team trivia contest, it is better if you tell the community that it is not a sports trivia game. I never said that it was a general trivia game...but I never told them that it was not what they assumed it would be based upon the nature of the theme night..... football.

And for more inspiration, check out my board at Pinterest!

So there is the game plan. You are ready to "set-HIKE"!! Go get 'em team!!

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