Food, Football, and Fun — Great Ideas for Tailgating this Fall

Food, Football, and Fun — Great Ideas for Tailgating this Fall

Tailgating Ideas for Awesome Autumn Fun

Tailgating in Buffalo, New York (my hometown) is not for the faint of heart. The Buffalo Bills (my favorite football team) have a rabid fanbase (#BillsMafia!) who’ve backed the Bills through sub-zero temperatures, snow-filled stadiums, and, yes, four back-to-back winless Super Bowls. At some point, Bills tailgating evolved to include “table-slamming,” which consists of jumping onto a plastic folding table and breaking it in half (don’t try this stunt anywhere near a Bills game; the team and local law enforcement strongly discourage it). Bills fans are passionate, to say the least.

Why do we love tailgating so much? Social anthropologists link the urge to tailgate to ancient fall harvest festivals when people would gather for a huge feast before winter set in. The earliest incidence of tailgating in the United States occurred during the Civil War, when spectators packed picnic baskets and travelled from Washington, D.C. to Manassas, VA to sit on the sidelines and root for their preferred side, the North or the South. In 1869, Princeton faced off against Rutgers in the first American football game ever; college football (and all its legendary rivalries — Harvard vs. Yale, Ohio State vs. Michigan, Notre Dame vs. USC) became yet another reason to tailgate.

The key to tailgating is friends, food, and fun; who’s playing is almost incidental — 30 percent of fans never actually attend the game they’re tailgating! So as football season kicks off, here are some fun tailgating ideas to try as well as some simple serving and storage solutions to keep game day running smoothly.


Beer is hands down the unofficial beverage of tailgaters. Level up your beer game with mDesign’s Beverage Tub and Ice Holder. It’s deep enough to pack with ice and the handles make it easy to transport. Tired of lagers and stout? Try a beer cocktail; it’s the best of both worlds—the foamy goodness of and ice-cold brew and the kick of a strong cocktail. We love this recipe for a savory beer cocktail.

Not a beer fan? Try an Apple Cider Bellini Blitz, a fizzy, fall drink that works for tailgates, backyard bonfires, and all your favorite autumn activities. Mix up a batch, pour into two reusable 40-ounce water bottles, and place them in mDesign’s Bottle Organizer. You can upgrade your tailgate table and create a cocktail corner for you and your beer-weary friends.

Apple Cider Bellini Blitz

  • 8 oz apple cider
  • 8 oz vodka
  • 1 bottle Champagne or Spumante
  • Apple slices for garnish

  1. Pour vodka and apple cider into a large bowl or pitcher, gently stir
  2. Add champagne or spumante
  3. Garnish with a cinnamon stick
  4. Enjoy!

Prefer your pre-game party drinks a little sweeter? Try All-Pro Apple Pie Bourbon Shots. They’re like a boozy, delicious, drinkable dessert. As anyone who’s ever tried to carry more than two shots at once can attest, you’ll need a tray —try mDesign’s Rectangular Serving Tray with Handles.

All-Pro Apple Pie Bourbon Shots

  • 1½ c bourbon
  • 2 whole apples, diced
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 whole nutmeg, grated
  • 4 cinnamon sticks, halved
  • 1 2”-piece fresh ginger, minced

  1. Combine the bourbon, apples, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger in a large glass jar and screw the lid on tightly
  2. Steep the herbs and bourbon for 3 to 5 days
  3. Serve in shot glasses—add a stick of cinnamon if you think your team will win!


Fans of every team in the NFL have a regional dish that’s a must for the tailgate table. Ravens fans nosh on crab nachos, while Browns fans wolf down Polish Boys. Packers faithful gorge on deep-friend cheese curds, and, of course, Bills fans love Buffalo wings. Whatever gooey, cheesy, messy dish you serve, make sure you have a cutlery caddy on hand fully stocked with plastic utensils, napkins, and lots of moist towelettes (no one wants to sit through double overtime with sticky fingers!).

Charcuterie might not be the first word that comes to mind when you think of football, but it’s an easy way to serve tasty snacks that’s even easier to clean up. mDesign’s Slate Serving Tray is sturdy enough to hold all the cold cuts, crackers, Camembert, and crudités you can eat.

Round out your tailgating menu with game day snack mix. Snack mix works whether you’re tailgating, watching the game, or reveling in victory on the ride home from the stadium. Keep snack mix fresh in mDesign’s Airtight Food Storage Containers. Just toss it in your bag and don’t worry about making a mess, the secure locking lid prevents spills!

Championship Snack Mix

  • 2½ cups mini pretzels
  • 2 cups cheese popcorn
  • 2 cups mixed nuts
  • 1 cup dried raisins
  • 1 cup M&M’s® candies
  • 1/2 cup Reese’s Pieces®

  1. Mix the ingredients in a large paper bag and shake it like a pom pom!


Cornhole, anyone? Tailgating games are a great way to kill time until kick off. Cornhole and horseshoes are fun, pre-game activities where the only thing at stake is bragging rights. But have you ever heard of fowling? It’s a sport a group of Detroit, MI friends made up 20 years ago while — you guessed it — tailgating. A mash up of football and bowling, the quirky game is popular throughout the Midwest and requires little more than bowling pins and a football.

These games work well for tailgating because they’re pretty much D.I.Y. and easy to transport. Pack a basket like mDesign’s Natural Woven Cube Basket with everything you need to play and just grab and go. The baskets are great for storing game equipment in shelving units when not in use.

Now you’re ready for some football! Hope your team racks up more wins more than losses (except when you play the Bills!).

Lisa Langford is a Senior Copywriter at mDesign

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Posted: Sep 14, 2021