MISSION, Kan., Sept. 6, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- (Family Features) As fall settles in, the air gets crisper and the kids head back to school, many Americans eagerly anticipate one thing: football season.
Whether you're a die-hard gridiron fan or prefer to enjoy the food and festivities from the sidelines, everyone can agree that a successful tailgate is key to any memorable game day get-together. According to a recent Bank of America survey, 34 percent of Americans plan to attend a professional or college football game or tailgate this fall, and 20 percent plan to host a tailgate or viewing party themselves.
While many love planning out meals, decorations and activities for friends and family, the costs can easily add up and make hosting feel like an underdog game. So how can fans plan a tailgate that stays on budget and impresses any crowd – home or away?
Home design and DIY experts Ben and Erin Napier teamed with Bank of America to provide these cost-savvy tips for pulling off a memorable tailgate that fits the bill for every fan on game day.
Get in the Competitive Spirit
Whether you're grilling outside the stadium or spending halftime hanging out in your backyard, Ben recommends laying out a variety of games for guests to enjoy.
"We take college football season very seriously," Ben said. "For some friendly, competitive fun before kickoff and during halftime, create a larger-than-life wood-block game."
Follow these simple steps:
1. Sand down wooden four-by-fours.
2. Cut into 48 pieces, each 18 inches long.
3. Stack pieces into a tower.
4. Take turns pulling pieces to see who knocks the tower over first.
For added flair and personalization, Erin suggests painting the wooden blocks your team colors.
Bring the Stadium to Your Living Room
If you missed out on tickets or your home team is on the road, you can still make your home feel like a day at the stadium.
"During tailgates at home, we try to make our friends feel like they're actually at the game and having as much fun as possible," Ben said.
Decorating your home with the team's colors – such as creating DIY wall art with framed jerseys – is a simple, cost-efficient way to capture the tailgate essence.
Ben suggests setting up a big screen TV on the deck or outdoor living area with speakers to mimic the feeling of watching a game outside in the stands. For inexpensive, comfy seating that will help welcome guests and add another pop of team spirit, try purchasing throw pillows in your team's colors from a wholesale club or superstore, but make sure to weatherproof them first using fabric protection spray.
"We also like to play recordings of our college band before kickoff if we can't be at the pep rally in person," Erin said.
Create a Tailgating Space that Stands Out
One of the best parts of tailgating at the stadium is being surrounded by fellow fans. Try sprucing up your car or tent to create an inviting space that showcases your team pride.
Ben recommends investing in a large, custom-designed vinyl or fabric banner for your tent. Not only can they be affordable to produce and last for many seasons, but they stand out in a crowd.
"Because the banner's durable, you can use it every year," Ben said. "Its unique design makes it easy to find after we walk around the tailgate to meet fellow fans."
Even when your tailgate screams "Go Team," it's important to make everybody – even the opposing team's fans – feel welcome.
"Experiencing a big game may be a once in a lifetime experience for them," Erin said. "Football fans should be all about hospitality, even toward the rival team's visitors."
Defeat Your Budget
"Planning for a busy football season doesn't need to be a 'loss' for your budget," Ben said. "Turning to a credit card that rewards you for everyday purchases is one of the easiest ways to 'win' this season."
Because tailgating throughout the entire football season requires many trips to the grocery store – often buying in bulk – using a card like the BankAmericard Cash Rewards credit card lets you earn 2 percent cash back at wholesale clubs and grocery stores. And 3 percent cash back when gassing up for away games – on up to $2,500 in grocery/wholesale club/gas quarterly spend. You also earn 1 percent back on all other purchases.
For more information, visit bankofamerica.com/creditcard.
Develop a Game Plan Before Cooking
When preparing meals for a large group, planning ahead and using simple recipes are key.
"We like to plan our meals ahead so that by the time our friends arrive and the game starts, we're pretty much done in the kitchen," Ben Napier said.
A simple, versatile marinade helps keep flavors fresh throughout the football season while avoiding additional costs.
"For our tailgates, we prefer to stick to the classics," Ben said. "When we aren't grilling hot dogs or burgers, we make a big pot of chili in our slow cooker – letting it simmer for a few hours before serving when the game starts. If we're tailgating at the stadium, we'll even throw the chili together in a cast iron pot straight on the grill."
3 parts olive oil
2 parts soy sauce
1 part Worcestershire sauce
1 part balsamic vinegar
In small bowl, combine all ingredients then place in re-sealable plastic bag.
Drizzle marinade over chicken and let stand in refrigerator about 4 hours prior to grilling.
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SOURCE Family Features Editorial Syndicate