The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

September 6, 2012

Entire families can enjoy game day with tailgating or watch parties

By Sarah Guinn
Globe Staff Writer

JOPLIN, Mo. — School is back in session, which means the fall season is here. And fall means football. But football doesn’t have to be dominated by men-only parties. Families can make football a fun activity everyone can enjoy, said Carrie Wilkinson, president of Angel Guild and a Missouri Southern State University supporter.

Going to the big game can be exhilarating for kids just starting out in youth sports, Wilkinson said. A family needs to set ground rules for its outing to the stadium to help keep things fun and active. A home party allows a family to unleash its creative senses with different football food recipes and projects to try, which can be a bonding activity for family members to enjoy.

Whether having a watch party at home or tailgaiting at the stadium, families need to set some key ground rules, Wilkinson said.


Communication key

Football parties just aren’t football parties without food. But it can get pretty expensive without some help, Wilkinson said. She recommends designating who will bring which items to the party among fellow family members and friends.  

“Plan (your party) by asking everyone to bring a little something, and you’re not stuck footing the whole bill,” Wilkinson said.

Planning for food at tailgate parties is no-brainer, she said. Summer foods such as chips and dip, and soda, are traditional tailgaiting treats.

Wilkinson says grilling at the arena, if allowed, makes for good times and good food. But if grills aren’t allowed, Wilkinson says families can cook food such as burgers or brats ahead of time and bring them along in a cooler.

Coolers and chairs are essential items for tailgaiting, she said, but make sure all the others bases are covered, too.

“You don’t want to get there and have hot dogs, but no buns,” she said.

Bring activities to tailgates

Wilkinson recommends partygoers bring along a portable TV or radio to watch or listen to other games while they wait for the game they’re attending to start. She also suggests bringing laptops to tune into other games that are streamed online -- as long as there is available WiFi.

Families planning to bring small children, such as 3 or 4 years old, should take extra precautions to minimize risks of accidents, she said.

Parents can watch for the fall season’s games, particularly the highly anticipated ones such as face painting and others that kids enjoy, she said. She also suggests throwing a Frisbee around for some fun and entertainment while waiting for the game to start.

Learning the team’s cheers and doing them with children in tow makes for fun times for little ones as well, she said.

Smart space

TV and food are the main ingredients needed for a successful watch party, Wilkinson said. When her family gets together, she said, it sets up several TVs with the game on, or sometimes have one game showing upstairs and a different one downstairs.

She recommends setting up food stations around the house. Meat and cheese trays and other finger foods are easy stations to set up, she said.

But for families who want to get really creative, Wilkinson says constructing food trays made to resemble a football field can be a fun activity. A simple Internet search will have directions for families to make their own edible creation, she said.

Families with young children should consider setting up a place special for them during the game. This will minimize any messes or accidents that might happen, she said.