It's that time of year: pre-game shows, stunning plays, cheerleaders, heartbreaking mistakes, play-by-play commentary and halftime extravaganzas.

.. Here are some ideas for the tailgate parties that football fans love. You can use the same tips for a sports theme party for a NFL or NCAA football game and playoffs, Super Bowl, baseball['s World Series, basketball's March Madness or NFL Playoffs, Daytona and NASCAR weekends, tennis or golf tournaments, soccer games, Kentucky Derby...or any of your favorite sporting events that brings fans out to party.

True to their name, "Tailgate Parties" traditionally take place in a stadium parking lot. The point of it all is to catch the action while you're having a good time with your friends and other tailgaters.

: So, make sure you have the essentials to make the most of the day:

- A rule of thumb for tailgate party foods: Keep everything quick, easy and social. “Quick” means finding foods that can be cooked in less than 15

- Keep foods simple: Remember that people will be walking around, chatting and hopefully jumping up to celebrate touchdowns – which is not the best environment for foods that require a knife and fork. So, choose “social” foods like sandwiches, bratwurst, Buffalo wings, hamburgers, chicken legs, ribs, or small appetizers like deviled eggs or meatballs. Remember, it’s a tailgate party, so try to keep in the spirit of the game.

- Choosing drinks for a tailgate party: The safest bet is to grab beverages that will appeal to everybody’s taste. The traditional drink for tailgate parties is obviously beer, but make sure you have sufficient sodas and bottled waters and sodas for children or designated drivers.

- Plan your supplies: Ideally, you should try to keep the amount of supplies you need at a minimum. For tailgating from your vehicle – folding chairs, a small barbecue grill, coals, a radio or portable TV, and a large cooler are essentials. Depending on the type of car, truck or SUV you drive, you may actually have room for a small table and a sunshade or some other means of protecting your party from the elements

In an effort to make the most of your tailgating event, prepare as much of the food as possible ahead of time. You definitely don't want run low on food so plan for a little extra. Guests appetites may be bigger than you had planned and you also may have unexpected guests stop in at your party. You can also suggest that your fellow tailgaters bring a small side dish to share.

Consider serving finger foods or foods served in bowls such as chili and soups. Since you'll be outside, you want the food to be as easy to eat as possible. Include side items such as salads, sandwich spreads, salsa and chips and veggies and dip. Cookies, cupcakes and brownies are also easier to serve than cakes and pies. If the weather is going to be cold you may want to bring coffee and hot cocoa.

Keep this tailgate party checklist handy to be sure you have not forgotten anything. Here's a checklist to help you remember all your tailgating essentials: We hope you find these tips helpful. Go Team!!

    Tarps, ropes, chairs, tables, seat cushions – some stadium seats are pretty hard

    Weather protection if needed--sunscreen, layered clothes, umbrella, etc.

    Insect repellent (if seasonally appropriate)

    Tablecloths and table weights to keep your table from tipping!

    The Grill!

    Charcoal or propane, lighter fluid, matches or lighter

    Grilling utensils, cooking utensils, pot holders

    Can opener – you don’t want to be caught without one

    Cork Screw – just in case you prefer wine to beer

    Napkins, paper towels, tissues, etc.

    Serving trays and serving utensils

    Knives. forks and spoons

    Heavy duty paper or plastic plates bowls and heat-protected cups

    Cooler, ice, condiments, salt, and pepper

    Aluminum foil – for cooking, if needed, and for left over storage

    Beverages (beer, wine, water, soda, etc.)

    And of course, the food!!

    Trash bags for cleanup, plastic storage bags for leftovers

    Water to wash your hands and to douse hot coals in your grill before loading it up.

    Team decorations. Don't forget the face paint in team colors

    Don't forget your tickets to the game---Natch!

    Binoculars and camera

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Copyright © 2010 Carol Stevens, Shaboom's Kitchen, All Rights Reserved