I like to savor each part of the season. So I’m always thinking of ways to stay outdoors and enjoy the crisp, sunny days of fall with tailgate parties and outdoor picnics.
Over the years, I’ve used these tips and recipes for at-home backyard parties and impromptu tailgating. I hope they’ll help you make the most of fall weather with family and friends, too.
At-home backyard parties
Make your backyard as cozy as possible with a portable fire pit for guests to gather around. I always remind guests to dress warmly, but in case they forget, I keep a stash of sweaters and jackets handy.
If it’s too chilly for an entire meal outdoors, serve a single course outside. You can serve hot chocolate or mulled cider as guests arrive, then head indoors for the main course. If kids (or kids at heart) are invited, serve s’mores for dessert. A portable fire pit is perfect for roasting marshmallows, too.
Bring extra clothing, and don’t forget blankets. Choose warming dishes: hot beverages, chili or stew and creamy soups. Your guests will thank you. And even if you’re throwing a last-minute gathering, there are simple ways to pull your menu together.
- Quick pasta salad: Boil penne pasta and toss it with your favorite salad dressing, chopped tomatoes and green onions.
- Red pepper dip: Melt cream cheese in the microwave and stir in red pepper jam.
- Hummus your way: Add your favorite flavors to store-bought hummus. Try garlic, rosemary, eggplant or cumin. Serve with fresh vegetables.
- Grilled chicken salad: Toss grilled chicken strips with a yogurt dressing, herbs, apples, currants and cashews. Serve in pita pockets.
These easy classics offer maximum crowd appeal.
- Chicken wings: Make these ahead of time and serve cold, if you like.
- Party nut mix or Chex® mix: Classic game-time munchies.
- Hamburgers and hot dogs: Offer a variety of toppings so guests can tailor them to their tastes.
- Bratwurst: Boil in beer prior to the tailgate and then just crisp them on the grill for a classic Midwestern treat.
- Chili: On its own or as a topping for hot dogs.
- Soups: When stored in a thermos to keep warm, nothing is more comforting on a cold day.
And don’t forget these must-have supplies:
- Thermoses to keep hot soups hot
- Coolers to keep perishables cold
- Plastic food containers
- Lots of napkins and paper towels
- Garbage bags
- Disposable dishes and utensils
- Collapsible table and chairs
- Mini grill and grill tools or camping burners
- Umbrellas – just in case!