How to Have the Perfect Tailgating Party

By Ashley Tyler ; Updated September 28, 2016

Fall is the best time of year: it's the arrival of pumpkin spice lattes, sweater weather and of course... football season! Whether you're a football fanatic who wears a jersey every Sunday, or you just like any excuse to eat food with your friends, a tailgating party is always a can't-miss event. And this autumn, make it a point to host one that's worthy of a touchdown dance. Pair a few decorations with some finger-licking grub — like a football piñata and chicken wings — before turning on the big game. You and your closest teammates are going to have so much fun, you may make this a weekly routine.

Pick Teams With a Custom T-Shirt

If you're more excited about the food than the football, then you probably don't have a team shirt hanging in your closet. Make one of your own instead: grab one of your plain white t's and use iron-on letters to spell out your favorite phrase. Now everyone will know who you're rooting for.

Set Up the Food on the 50 Yard Line

Concentrate your decorations around the buffet table, since that's where people will be the most (besides the couch, of course). A strip of astroturf and some paint are all you need to make a table runner that'll make your buffet table look perfect.

Make a Piñata for the Halftime Show

What's a party without a piñata? Use large pieces of cardboard and masking tape to make a football's basic oval shape, and then cover it with long strips of fringed crepe paper. After, fill it with candy and bust it open at halftime.

Finger Foods for the Win

You can't watch football without some delicious treats to munch on. These antipasta skewers are a solid option, because they're just as easy to put together as they are to eat. Don't forget to soak the ingredients in Italian dressing before adding the toothpicks for an extra boost of flavor.

Serve a Dip That's a Definite Fan Favorite

This jalapeño popper dip is cheesy, spicy and covered in crunchy breadcrumbs —it's destined to become a fan favorite. Adjust the heat ratio to your liking by removing the jalapeños for a milder flavor, or leave them in if you like it hot. Serve with tortilla chips and watch it disappear before the fourth quarter.

Score Big With a Batch of Apple Butter

Take advantage of all the delicious fall apples filing the produce section and make a big batch of apple butter for game day. You can even make it ahead of time and store it in your refrigerator for up to two weeks, but it's so good it'll never last that long. Bonus? Whip up some biscuits, too, and get ready to score big with everyone who takes a bite.

Dress Up Store-Bought Sandwiches

If you don't have time to make something from scratch, dress up store-bought sandwiches instead. These printable wraps add a personal touch without sacrificing a ton of your free time. Just layer the printed paper with parchment and a piece of twine. Done and done!

Cook Up Spicy Buffalo Chicken Wings

You can't have a tailgate party without a big plate of juicy chicken wings. This recipe comes together right in your slow cooker and only needs to be baked for a quick 30 minutes to crisp up the skin. Make sure no one mistakes a napkin toss for a flag, and you've got a winning recipe in your playbook.

Pulled Pork That's Way Easier That a Punt

Make a big pot of pulled pork and let your guests make sandwiches at their leisure during the game. Season and brown the pork, and then let it roast in the oven for three hours while you get ready for the party. When your guests arrive, all you have to do is shred the meat and get in line.

Comfort the Losing Team With Macaroni and Cheese

There's just something about the creaminess of a bowl of macaroni and cheese that can't be beat — especially when you can make it in your slow cooker. The macaroni cooks right in the cheese sauce, and a splash of beer adds an extra layer of flavor. Just make sure you take the macaroni out of the slow cooker once it's done to prevent it from burning on the bottom.

Go Meatless for Monday Night Football

If you've got vegetarian friends joining the party, or you just want to go meatless, then look no further. Enchiladas stuffed with sweet potatoes, spinach and black beans will satisfy even the biggest carnivore at the party. Reserve a bit of the sauce to pour over rice, and you'll be so busy chowing down that you'll forget all about the game.

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