Tailgating Essentials For Families

This post is sponsored by BabbleBoxx.com.

For sports loving families there is no better way to spend the weekend than watching sports together. While most games are spent home around the television it’s fun to get out and actually go to a game to enjoy the fun in person. Today I wanted to share some essentials for parents who want to take their kids tailgating with them.

Weather-appropriate gear

Living in Chicago means we never know what to expect during football season. It can be a warm day or it can be downright frigid like the last Bears game I went to. Because of this it’s important to check the weather and make sure you pack whatever weather appropriate gear you need from blankets and hand-warmers to ponchos to sun screen and hand-held fans. I’ve learned that anytime we have outdoor activities, if the children are either too hot or too cold, they won’t enjoy the day no matter what we are doing.

Simple football decor

I tend to go all out when I decorate for football season but when you are tailgating you’ll want to keep it simple. A disposable football themed tablecloth and tableware are perfect. You can even add a banner if you want to decorate your tailgate.

Grab and go meals

When you watch football games at home you can grill or slow cook your meal but when you are tailgating you want meals that are easy to grab on the way to the game. One of my favorite sandwich shops, Jersey Mike’s, makes it easy to order online and then pick up a catering box full of sandwiches everyone in the family will love. Even my little picky eater, Lucas, loves Jersey Mike’s sandwiches!

Jersey Mike’s sandwiches

We ordered a catering box with four different sandwiches. We got my favorite sandwich, the Original Italian – a Jersey-style Italian sub full of provolone, ham, prosciuttini, cappacuolo, salami, and pepperoni- on their amazing Rosemary Parmesan Bread. We kept it simple for the kids with a Stickball Special sub, made with provolone, ham, and salami. And then of course we also got the Club Sub and Club Supreme because… BACON. We ordered all the subs with lettuce and then had them put all of the other ingredients on the side so that the sandwiches didn’t get soggy in transit. Plus, with the toppings on the side, everyone can customize the sandwiches how they want to which is perfect for groups. Add cookies and single bags of chips to your order and you have a simple tailgating meal you didn’t have to make… can’t get easier than that! (Learn more about Jersey Mike’s Catering here.)

Games and things to keep the kids busy

Football Sundays can be long and if the kids aren’t into football they may become bored pretty quick. Fun games like bean bags or even bringing a football to toss around can keep them occupied while everyone else is chatting and enjoying their pre-game rituals.

Cooler with cold drinks or a thermos with something hot on cold days

Don’t forget to bring the drinks to go along with those delicious sandwiches! There’s nothing better than a cold drink on a hot day (stock up on that water!) but on chilly days something warm in a thermos may be preferred.

Spiritwear and FanHeads Football Helmets

I’m in my Chicago Bears gear often, whether it’s football season or not, but for live games you’ll want to go over the top and I discovered a new must-have for fans to show their team spirit- FanHeads football helmets! Specially made from a strong and foldable laminate material, these helmets are perfect for wearing and display. They are also weather resistant, lightweight, and comfortable. My favorite feature of these helmets though is that they can be adjusted to four sizes so both kids and adults can wear them. (Learn more and order your FanHeads fan gear here.)

Folding chairs and tables

You’ll want a place to sit while you tailgate so don’t forget to put folding chairs (or camping chairs) in your trunk before you leave home. A folding table is also a nice addition so you’ll have a place to serve food from.

Portable phone charger

Whether you are playing music from your phone or checking your fantasy football player’s stats you’ll likely be draining your phone battery so you’ll want to bring a portable phone charger. This is especially important if your game tickets are on your phone because the last thing you want to do is miss the game because you can’t access your mobile tickets.

What would you add to this list? Chat with me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook

Tailgating With McDonald’s

(Disclosure: My tailgating party was sponsored by McDonald’s, an official sponsor of the NFL.)

I am so happy that football is back! There is little I enjoy more than spending time with family while watching the Bears (and now my oldest son!) play. It’s a Fall ritual!

Last weekend both my son and my nephew had football games on Sunday morning so we were getting together with family after their games. Twelve o’clock kickoff times aren’t the easiest to get ready for because being gone in the morning, for Church or youth football, means a rush to get some food ready once we get home.

We got to my mom’s house right before the Bears kicked off. Instead of cooking, we tried something new last week and picked up McDonald’s. This way everyone could get what they wanted and it was as simple as running to McDonald’s and picking it up. No cooking involved!

One thing I did add to the list of everyone’s food order was a box of cookies. Did you know that McDonald’s sold their delicious chocolate chip cookies by the box!? I didn’t! I regret only buying one box because, with a group, 2 or 3 boxes (at least!) is a must.

I kept the decorations simple. Just a football tablecloth, a few hanging decorations and a cute centerpiece that held the cookies was all we needed. We had football napkins as well, but no dirty plates or cups to wash. It was a really easy get-together to plan for and both setup and cleanup were easy-peasy.

Since not all of the kids were interested in the football game we made sure to have plenty to keep them busy. Along with playing with some toys upstairs, they played a couple games and spent some time crafting (more on that coming soon!).

They also loved playing with their football figures and Littlest Pet Shop animals that came in their Happy Meals. Overall, it was a great afternoon of football, food and fun.

We can’t wait for the next Bears game and will definitely be tailgating with McDonald’s again!

Want to join in on the fun? Learn about the ways you can earn weekly prizes and enter for a chance to win the ULTIMATE tailgate at mcdtailgate.com.

Heinz 57 Tailgating Recipes {Giveaway}

As we enter the heat of football season, Heinz 57 Sauce is offering the recipe for a winning tailgate so that you are fully equipped to cheer on your favorite team.

Below, are three recipes to turn up the flavor on your tailgate – Heinz 57 Pulled Pork, Zesty Garlic Wings, and Honey Dipping Sauce. Whether you’re enjoying meat, seafood or veggies for the big game, Heinz 57 Sauce brings the perfect kick with its unique, rich flavor.

Heinz 57 Pulled Pork

Serves: 8

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 8 hours

Marinate Time: 0 minutes

1/2 cup Heinz 57® Sauce

1/4 cup Lea & Perrins® Worcestershire Sauce

2 Tbsp. yellow mustard

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/4 cup tomato paste

1 medium onion, chopped, or about 2 cups

3 1/2 lb. boneless pork shoulder blade roast, trimmed and cut into 4 pieces

1. In a 5-6 quart slow cooker, mix together 57 Sauce, Worcestershire Sauce, mustard, sugar, tomato paste, and onion. Season with salt & pepper if desired. Add pork, turning until well coated. Cover and cook on low heat setting for about 8 hours, or until pork is cooked through (no longer pink or an internal temperature of 165°F) and tender, turning occasionally.

2. To serve, remove pork from slow cooker. Pull pork into shreds using two forks. Return pork to slow cooker and stir until well mixed with sauce. Serve onto your favorite sandwich buns and serve immediately.

TIP: If desired, cook on on high heat setting for 4 hours, or until pork is cooked through (no longer pink or an internal temperature of 165°F) and tender, turning occasionally.

Zesty Garlic Wings

Serves: 6

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 22 minutes

Marinate Time: 0 minutes

1 cup Heinz 57® Sauce

1/2 cup Prepared Balsamic Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

1 Tbsp. minced garlic

1 package frozen chicken wing sections, thawed, or about 20 pieces

1. Preheat broiler to high heat. Place oven rack at 9 to 10 inches from heat source. Coat a broiler pan with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Whisk together 57 Sauce, vinaigrette and garlic until well mixed. Reserve half of mixture in a separate bowl for dipping.

3. Arrange wings in single layer on broiler pan and broil for 10 minutes, turning halfway through. Brush sauce mixture liberally on both sides of wings. Continue broiling for 10 to 12 minutes, or until cooked through, turning every 2 to 3 minutes. Serve with reserved dipping sauce.

TIP: Always cook chicken until no longer pink or to an internal temperature of 165° F.

TIP: For grilling method, preheat grill to medium high heat. Grill wings for 15 minutes, turning occasionally. Brush sauce mixture liberally on both sides of wings and grill for another 5 to 7 minutes, or until cooked through (no longer pink or an internal temperature of 165°F), turning frequently. Serve with reserved dipping sauce.

TIP: For a spicier variation, add 1 to 2 tsp. of crushed red pepper flakes to sauce mixture.

Heinz 57 Honey Dipping Sauce

This sweet and tangy dipping sauce is simple and perfect with Ore-Ida® Grillers but can also be used as a dip for any favorite side – from chips to a veggie tray!

Serves: 4

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 0 minutes

Marinate Time: 0 minutes

1/2 cup Heinz 57® Sauce

2 Tbsp. honey

1. Combine Heinz 57 and honey in a small bowl.

2. Enjoy!

3. If desired, serve with Ore-Ida® Grillers, prepared as directed on package.

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GIVEAWAY INCLUDES:

Heinz 57 Sauce, Heinz 57 Steak Sauce, Heinz 57 Sauce with Honey, Grilling tools, Heinz blanket, Can cooler, Heinz tailgating book

HOW TO ENTER:

{Do any or all of the following, leave a separate comment for each you do}

1) Leave a comment telling me what your favorite tailgating recipe is

2) Share this giveaway on a social network

3) Subscribe to this blog via email (look in upper right corner)

Giveaway ends November 4, 2012 at 11:59pm Central time. US 18+ only.

(Disclosure: I was not compensated for posting this giveaway)