Tailgate Tips for the Win

Nov 13 2019

by Lydia Menzies

I am fortunate enough to live in Athens, GA and even more fortunate to live so close to the University of Georgia’s campus. There’s nothing like a Saturday in Athens during football season! From the Dawg Walk to the last play of the game, there is an energy in the air that leaves Bulldog fans biting at the chance to cheer on their team— and then do it all again week after week and year after year. When it’s time to fuel up before you cheer on your local favorite or your alma mater, kick-off your tailgate with these easy-to-prepare (and always appreciated) fan favorites! Here, I used red and black infused recipes and ideas, but you can add nods to your team’s colors in a variety of ways!

The Southern Coterie Blog Tailgate Tips Table by Lydia Menzies
A winning tailgate table designed and photographed for The Southern C by Lydia Menzies of The Party Wagon

Here, I decided to cover the tailgate table with a white tablecloth and then add a red and black plaid blanket. A white tablecloth is always an easy starting point- and you can find inexpensive options so that you don’t have to fret over spills. Find a smaller topper that reflects your team’s colors, and place it over the white tablecloth. For a centerpiece, I used a potted plant with white blooms and put it inside a vintage ice bucket.  You can also use cut stems if those are easier to find. I also think it is a great idea to add shakers, footballs, helmets, etc. to the table for a little extra team spirit.  

The Southern Coterie Blog Tailgate Tips (Styling and Photography by Lydia Menzies)
Tailgate Tips by Lydia Menzies of The Party Wagon

You will also want to provide a spirited spread for your guests with these recipes and food ideas…

Tailgate Tips by Lydia Menzies of The Party Wagon

My favorite recipe to serve to a crowd is Black Bean Cowboy Caviar. You can rename it “Bulldawg Caviar”, “Tiger Caviar”, “Crimson Caviar”, you get the idea! Also, in this tailgate spread I topped the bean dip caviar with mini red peppers. To make it in your team colors, switch out the garnish and use orange, green, or yellow pepper slices. Any veggie that you like works- find one that suits your tastes and have fun showing your school spirit.


8 oz. block of cream cheese (softened)
15 oz. can of black beans (rinsed and drained)
4 oz. chopped black olives
1/2 small onion minced
1 clove of garlic minced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 crushed red pepper
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Mix all ingredients (except cream cheese) together in a bowl.
Spread cream cheese on a serving platter.
Add bean mixture to the top of cream cheese and spread evenly to cover.
Garnish with mini red peppers/ lime slices/ cilantro.
Serve with blue corn chips or tortilla chips.

Serving Options:
To serve individual bites, use mini crisp pastry shells.  Use a small spoon and spread cream cheese in shell.  Top with black bean mixture.  Garnish with mini red pepper.  Tip: do not refrigerate pastry shells as they will lose their crispness.

Tailgate Tips by Lydia Menzies of The Party Wagon


Tailgate Tips Grazing Board by Lydia Menzies of The Party Wagon

Another favorite way to feed a crowd is with a Grazing Board.  The options are endless, and it is easy to add in red and black colors in healthy and/or delicious ways.  The trick to creating an appealing board is to group like foods together.  I personally like to use whole fruits and vegetables or large chips and pretzels around the edges of the board and then add in smaller items in the middle.  Put fruits together, veggies together, cheeses and dips can be added throughout, and then stack or wind crackers around the other foods.  Sliced meats are also popular on grazing boards. Be creative when you shop for ingredients for a grazing board and offer a variety of options.

Some of my favorites are…
Lettuce Wraps
Grape Tomatoes
Red, Green, Yellow, Orange Peppers
Pepper Drops
Pickled Okra
Sliced Deli Meats
Sliced baguettes
Mini Bagels
Bagel Chips
Veggie Chips
Potato Chips
Cheese Straws
Mini Pretzels
Large Pretzels
Water Crackers
Bread Sticks
Hard Cheeses
Soft Cheeses
Dips (homemade or store-bought)

Tailgate Tips Grazing Board by Lydia Menzies of The Party Wagon

Another Fan (and Family) Favorite…
A healthy option is always a winner at a tailgate. Try this Chickpea Salad and watch your guests enjoy every bite!
This can be served in a large serving bowl or placed in individual serving sizes.


Tailgate Tips Chickpea Salad by Lydia Menzies of The Party Wagon

2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
2 (15-oz.) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 small cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 can small black olives
10-15 grape tomatoes sliced in half
8 oz.  mozzarella cheese pearls
1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley

Whisk together the first 4 ingredients in a large bowl.
Add all other ingredients to bowl and gently toss to ensure salad is coated with olive oil mixture. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Tailgate Tips Chickpea Salad by Lydia Menzies of The Party Wagon


For a sweet treat, my go-to tailgate hack is Ghirardelli Chocolate Chip Muffins or Double Chocolate Brownies. I usually purchase 2 boxes and bake them in muffin tins with cupcake liners in the team colors. Bake the muffins in one color cupcake liner and then place them in an unbaked liner on a serving platter in a coordinating color.

Tailgate Tips Chocolate Chip Muffins by Lydia Menzies of The Party Wagon . Graphic Design of Cupcake Toppers by Amanda Eldridge of Oconee Printing

Here, I was excited to collaborate with fellow TSC Alum Amanda Eldridge of Oconee Printing to create a UGA-inspired tailgating set of cupcake toppers. I wanted to use the traditional school cheers but also add in a fresh and fun element with UGA quarterback Jake Fromm’s name. Amanda suggested a watercolor bulldog and I loved how the image turned out. Because of licensing regulations, we were sure to stay within rules and let our creative sides go to work!

Tailgate Tips by Lydia Menzies of The Party Wagon. Cupcake Toppers by Amanda Eldridge of Oconee Printing

I also like to order customized cookies for the big games as a special treat! Here in Athens, I recommend Baylee Bakes. I am so impressed with Baylee’s decorating skills and cookie flavor— and she is currently a student at UGA! You can find Baylee Bakes on Instagram, Facebook, and the web!

Tailgate Tips by Lydia Menzies of The Party Wagon. Cookies by Baylee Marsh of Baylee Bakes


Tailgate Tips Signature Cocktail from Lydia Menzies of The Party Wagon

Every good tailgate deserves a signature cocktail…serve up this red and black for a twist on the traditional!

5-6 blackberries
1 ounce Bulleit Bourbon
3 1/2 ounces Blackberry Izze
Raspberries, blackberries for garnish

Smash 5-6 blackberries in the bottom of a glass.
Add ice and then pour in bourbon and soda.
Stir well.
Place raspberries and blackberries on a skewer and add to glass.  

The Southern Coterie blog Tailgate Tips Lydia Menzies

I hope these tailgate ideas inspire you for the next time you cheer on your team or simply host a group for any occasion. They may even be perfect for a TSC meet up among your area group! Let’s keep connecting, collaborating, and creating! Cheers!

Enjoy, Friends!


Lydia Menzies View More Blog Posts from this Author

Lydia Menzies has always been known for her creative flair and love of the tiniest details. She can make the most mundane affair one to remember! She loves a good play-on-words and a unique party theme. Lydia also loves to spoil her guests and is known for searching hard for the perfect party favors! Anything she touches just seems to have a “little extra something special” to it. Lydia expresses her creative party-planning passion through The Party Wagon…a place to be inspired to add a small (or large) dose of fun to everyday living.

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