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Your Fantasy Team Sucks, but Your Tailgate Doesn’t Have To

Your Fantasy Team Sucks, but Your Tailgate Doesn’t Have To

Ah, the sweet smell of freshly cut grass, the distant roar of the crowd, and the unmistakable sound of your fantasy team crashing and burning. But hey, just because your virtual team might be tanking doesn't mean your real-life game day party has to! In fact, with a little creativity and some cost-effective hacks, you can throw a tailgate bash that'll have everyone forgetting about that questionable trade you made last week. Here's how:

DIY Décor on A Dime

Balloon Goal Posts: Grab some yellow balloons and tape. Create a goal post shape on your wall or even in your backyard. It's a fun backdrop for photos and costs next to nothing. Here are some instructions on how to make these:


    • Yellow balloons (long, skinny ones work best)
    • Clear tape or balloon adhesive dots
    • A balloon pump (optional but helpful)


    1. Inflate the Balloons: Using a balloon pump or your mouth, inflate four long, skinny yellow balloons. These will serve as the uprights and crossbar of the goal post.
    2. Form the Uprights: Take two of the balloons and stand them vertically side by side, ensuring they are of equal length. These will be the uprights of your goal post.
    3. Attach the Crossbar: Take a third balloon and place it horizontally between the two uprights, forming a "U" shape. This will be the crossbar.
    4. Secure with Tape: Use clear tape or balloon adhesive dots to secure the balloons together where they intersect. Make sure the balloons are firmly attached to each other.
    5. Stabilize the Base: The fourth balloon can be curved into a semi-circle and placed at the base of the uprights to help stabilize the structure. Secure it with tape.
    6. Display: Place your balloon goal post against a wall or hang it from the ceiling as a backdrop for photos or as a decorative piece.

Jersey Bunting: Got some old jerseys lying around? Cut them into triangles and string them up for a sporty, festive look. If you don't have jerseys, any team-colored fabric will do. Here are some quick instructions on how to make these:


    • Old jerseys or team-colored fabric
    • Scissors
    • String, twine, or ribbon
    • Clothespins or small binder clips (optional)


    1. Prepare the Jerseys: Lay out the jerseys or fabric flat on a surface. If using jerseys, you might want to cut out the front or back to have a flat piece to work with.
    2. Cut Triangles: Using scissors, cut the fabric into triangle shapes. The size of the triangles can vary based on your preference, but a good standard size is about 8-10 inches at the base.
    3. Arrange the Triangles: Lay out your string, twine, or ribbon and arrange the triangles in the order you want them to appear on the bunting.
    4. Attach the Triangles: Fold the top edge of each triangle over the string, twine, or ribbon, and secure it in place. You can sew it, use fabric glue, or simply use clothespins or small binder clips to attach them.
    5. Hang and Display: Once all the triangles are attached, hang your jersey bunting in your desired location. Whether it's across a room, on a wall, or outside, it'll add a sporty touch to your game day party.

Mouth-Watering Munchies that Won't Break the Bank

Full recipes for all snack ideas can be found at the bottom of the post!

Ham-And-Cheese Sliders: Elevate the basic ham-and-cheese with an amazing homemade béchamel sauce and Gruyère cheese. Use Hawaiian rolls for that sweet touch.

Jalapeño Popper Dip: As good as stuffed jalapeños but packed into a shareable party dip. Add chopped red and yellow bell peppers for color and texture.

Slow-Cooker Grape Jelly Meatballs: These saucy meatballs slow cook in grape jelly, adding sweetness to the heat and spice of chili sauce and barbecue sauce. Perfect with toothpicks for easy grabbing.

Easy Buffalo Chicken Dip: Melty, creamy, cheesy, chicken-filled, and packed with a kick of Buffalo flavor. Serve with flat pretzel chips or crusty bread.

Baked BLT Dip: Creamy, cheesy, bacony, and bubbly. This dip packs bacon, cream cheese, Cheddar, sour cream, and mayo. Top with lettuce and cherry tomatoes for the BLT feel.

Game Day Games (Because Your Fantasy Team Isn't Enough)

Commercial Bingo: Create bingo cards with common phrases or scenes from game day commercials. First one to get bingo gets a prize (or the last slice of pizza). Here’s how to play, along with 25 bingo square ideas:


    • Blank bingo cards (can be printed from online templates or drawn on paper)
    • Markers or pens
    • Small items for markers (coins, buttons, or bingo markers)
    • List of common phrases or scenes from game day commercials


    1. Prepare Bingo Cards: Before the game, prepare bingo cards with 5x5 grids. In each square, write down a common phrase or scene you expect to see in game day commercials (e.g., "celebrity cameo," "talking animal," "car commercial," "soda ad," etc.).
    2. Distribute Cards: Hand out a bingo card and a set of markers to each player.
    3. Explain the Rules: Tell players to mark off a square when they see a commercial that matches the description in that square.
    4. Play: As commercials play during the game, players will mark off the corresponding squares on their cards.
    5. Winning: The first player to get five squares in a row (horizontally, vertically, or diagonally) shouts "Bingo!" and wins. You can continue playing for second and third place or play multiple rounds.
    6. Prizes: Consider having small prizes for the winners, like a special snack, a small gift, or simply bragging rights.

    Commercial Bingo Square Ideas:

    1. Celebrity Cameo: A famous face makes an appearance.
    2. Talking Animal: Animals that surprisingly have a lot to say.
    3. Car Commercial: Sleek cars driving in scenic locations.
    4. Soda Ad: Bubbly beverages being the star.
    5. Heartwarming Moment: Scenes that tug at the heartstrings.
    6. Hilarious Mishap: Something goes hilariously wrong.
    7. Dance Sequence: Characters breaking into a dance.
    8. Iconic Phrase: A memorable line or slogan is introduced.
    9. Sports Star Appearance: Athletes making a cameo.
    10. Fast Food Ad: Promoting the latest burger or deal.
    11. Tech Product: Showcasing the latest gadget or innovation.
    12. Cute Kids: Children stealing the show with their antics.
    13. Epic Adventure: Characters embarking on a thrilling journey.
    14. Romantic Scene: Love is in the air.
    15. Animated Characters: Cartoon or animated figures come to life.
    16. Throwback: Nostalgic references or old-school vibes.
    17. Music Star Performance: A famous singer or band appears.
    18. Unexpected Twist: The commercial takes a surprising turn.
    19. Fashion Statement: Showcasing the latest fashion or trend.
    20. Parody: Making fun of a popular movie, show, or trend.
    21. Dramatic Entrance: Someone makes a grand or unexpected entrance.
    22. Superhero Appearance: Characters with superpowers.
    23. Mascot Antics: Brand mascots getting into funny situations.
    24. Viral Challenge: Reference to a popular internet challenge or meme.
    25. Emotional Story: A commercial that tells a touching story.

    Quarterback Challenge: Set up a target (could be a hoop or a bucket) and have guests try to throw a football into it. The rules are simple: whoever successfully hits the target most wins. The winner gets bragging rights until the next party, or a prize if you’re feeling generous.

    Thrift Store Score

    Mismatched Team Mugs: Visit your local thrift store and pick up mismatched mugs or glasses. It's quirky, fun, and way cheaper than buying a set. Plus, it's a great conversation starter!

    DIY Team Tees: Buy plain tees and some fabric markers. Let your guests design their own team shirts. It's interactive and serves as a party favor.

    Eco-Friendly and Economical Dining Ware

    Reusable Plates and Cutlery: Instead of disposable items, use real plates and cutlery. It's better for the environment and, in the long run, your wallet.

    Water Cooler: Instead of buying bottled water, set up a water cooler station. It's eco-friendly and encourages hydration between those beers.

    BONUS TIP: Remember, it's all about the atmosphere. Create a playlist of classic game day songs, throw in some commentary sound effects, and you've got yourself a stadium vibe right in your living room.

    So, while your fantasy team might be giving you heartburn, your game day party doesn't have to. With a little creativity, some thrifty thinking, and a few delicious recipes, you can create a memorable tailgate that'll have everyone cheering (even if it's just for the food). There's always next season for your fantasy team, but your tailgate game is strong right now.

    Game-Day Munchies Recipes

    1. Ham-and-Cheese Sliders:


      • 12 mini slider buns
      • 12 slices of ham
      • 12 slices of Swiss cheese
      • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
      • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
      • 1/4 cup melted butter
      • 1 tbsp poppy seeds
      • 1/2 tsp onion powder
      • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
      • Salt and pepper to taste


      • Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
      • Slice the slider buns in half and spread mayonnaise on one side and Dijon mustard on the other.
      • Place a slice of ham and cheese inside each bun.
      • Arrange the sliders in a baking dish.
      • In a mixing bowl, combine melted butter, poppy seeds, onion powder, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper. Pour this mixture over the sliders.
      • Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake for about 15 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 5 minutes or until the tops are slightly browned.
      • Serve warm.

    2. Jalapeno Popper Dip:


      • 2 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened
      • 1 cup mayonnaise
      • 1 can (4 oz) chopped green chilies, drained
      • 1 can (4 oz) diced jalapeño peppers, drained
      • 1/2 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
      • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
      • 1 cup crushed tortilla chips
      • Sliced jalapeños for garnish


      • Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
      • In a mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, mayonnaise, green chilies, jalapeño peppers, and Mexican cheese blend.
      • Transfer the mixture to a baking dish and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and crushed tortilla chips.
      • Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
      • Garnish with sliced jalapeños and serve with tortilla chips.

    3. Slow Cooker Grape Jelly Meatballs:


      • 32 oz. bag frozen meatballs
      • 20 oz. grape jelly
      • 12 oz. Heinz chili sauce


      • Place the frozen meatballs in the slow cooker.
      • Add the grape jelly and chili sauce. Stir until the meatballs are coated in the grape and chili sauce mixture.
      • Cook on HIGH for 2.5-3 hours or LOW for 4-5 hours, stirring occasionally.
      • Serve warm.

    4. Easy Buffalo Chicken Dip:


      • 1 pound cooked chicken, shredded
      • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
      • 1 cup ranch dressing
      • 3/4 cup hot sauce (such as Frank's)
      • 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded


      • Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).
      • In a mixing bowl, combine chicken, cream cheese, ranch dressing, hot sauce, and 1 cup of cheddar cheese.
      • Transfer the mixture to a baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining cheddar cheese.
      • Bake for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown.
      • Serve with celery sticks or tortilla chips.

    5. Baked BLT Dip:


      • 1 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
      • 1 cup mayonnaise
      • 1 cup sour cream
      • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
      • 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
      • 1 tomato, seeded and chopped
      • 1/4 cup chopped green onions


      • Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).
      • Mix mayonnaise, sour cream, and cream cheese in a bowl until combined. Add crumbled bacon, cheddar cheese, green onions, and tomato.
      • Pour the mixture into a baking dish and bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly.
      • Garnish with additional green onions, tomato, and crumbled bacon.
      • Serve with corn chips or toasted baguette slices.

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