Football season has arrived, and along with it, tailgate season. If you are a regular at the games of your favorite team, you may frequently host or attend tailgate parties before the games. And if you are like me, you are always on the lookout for different ways to decorate your tailgate area to support the team and get your guests in the mood to cheer.
I have many friends who are Virginia Tech graduates and who spend their fall Saturdays on the road to support their team. One of these friends asked for some ideas for a tailgate she was doing, and together we came up with some ideasWe went to that are great for Tech but also adaptable to other schools and colors. So check out this Virginia Tech tailgate and imagine it in your alma mater’s guise.
Virginia Tech’s sport teams are called the “Hokies.” The word “Hokie” came from a contest-winning school spirit yell in 1896. The word was an attention-grabber intended to express great enthusiasm or cheer. The team mascot is the HokieBird, a turkey-like animal, chosen because the VT teams were originally known as the “Fighting Gobblers.” The school colors are maroon and orange.We took our supplies with us to an empty parking lot to see how our ideas would work. We began our tailgate decorations with an orange plastic tablecloth for our portable banquet table which we positioned at the back of our van’s hatchback. Then we used a topper of VT fabric found at our local fabric store. You can use the fabric like a table runner lengthwise or as a topper that goes across the table and hangs down in the front. We chose to fold the fabric and just use it on top of the table for the maroon color, because we had a VT Hokies felt pennant that we wanted to use front and center.
On the left and right of the table topper we positioned our maroon paper plates and maroon cloth napkins with our orange plastic flatware tied in the knots. Paper napkins with the flatware rolled in them and tied with appropriately colored ribbon would work just as well. The orange bottled drinks are on the table to show that you might even be able to coordinate the color of your beverages with your school color. On the day of the real tailgate, my friend will use two orange plastic party tubs with ice to serve her drinks.
The centerpiece of the tailgate table is composed of several pieces. I have an acrylic stand that makes a sign on a tabletop, but you can do the same thing with a tabletop easel and a foamcore poster (with enough body to stand up). My message on an orange background was “There’s No Place Like VT.” Then, to frame the sign, we used two orange cheerleader pom-poms from the dollar store and two VT plaster garden gnome figures my friend had. You may have spirit decorations from your school that you might use–a mascot, a logo football or helmet or logo cap.
The orange foam visor is to remind you that asking your tailgate guests to dress in school colors–this will make your party colorful and spirited. Many fans have jerseys and t-shirts touting their school leanings.The VT orange jersey foam drink cozies are easy to make and make great favors for your guests to take with them. I bought the jersey-shaped foam cozies at a local craft store. You can cut out the letters for your school out of inexpensive craft foam available at most craft stores and glue them onto the cozies.
After setting this up, we took pictures of this tailgate tablescape so my friend could use it to reconstruct on game day. The centerpiece garden gnomes and pom-poms would obviously be pushed to the back of the table so there would be room for the food platters and bowls. Crepe paper streamers in your school colors could be hung from a van hatchback or car trunk behind the table for more color, or another length of the school spirit fabric can be hung as a backdrop. You could also make a garland to hang by tying cheerleader pom-poms together with ribbon.I hope you have seen some ideas in this Virginia Tech tailgate that you might adapt to use for your own school tailgates. Cheer your team on! Enjoy!