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Give your tailgate some class

Charla Krupp of In Style magazine says the focus is on comfort, style and less stress.
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With fall, comes crisp October days, football and tailgate parties. But you don’t need a football game to host a stylish tailgate. In fact, you don’t have to go to a crowded, noisy stadium to tailgate with friends in the privacy and comfort of your own backyard — with a kitchen and bathroom just steps away. Charla Krupp of In Style gives tips on how to give your tailgate some class.

IN STYLE’S FRESH twist on the traditional tailgate is focuses on comfort, style and less stress. Just pull your car into the yard, open the trunk, and set up your party. For once, you don’t have to stress about getting your home absolutely perfect because the party’s outside. This tailgate isn’t about football, but creating a cozy and stylish setting to enjoy your friends and a gorgeous fall day.

And if you don’t have a grassy yard, no stress! The beauty of this party is that you can do it anywhere anytime so choose another venue-a nearby park, soccer field, antique show parking lot.

There are things that you’d have at a typical tailgate that you’re not going to find here

No kegs of beer and the guys who chug them.

No fattening potato chips, potato salad, hot dogs, chili or bratwurst.

No plastic utensils, flimsy paper plates, plaid blankets, red and white checked tablecloths.

No pennants, pompoms, face painting in team colors!

From our research on what makes a winning tailgate, here are the key elements you can’t live without: Smart setup, inviting look, yummy food, entertainment and a touch of comfort. We’re breaking down our party into these categories to show you how easy it can be to entertain out of your car!


You do need a car — a hatchback station wagon or SUV parked on your lawn or in the driveway. The open trunk is your buffet —no need to drag out a heavy table. You’ll be surprised at how many party supplies can fit in the truck. Just lay down a pretty tablecloth, first. Ours is a double hemstitched light blue tablecloth, $34, from Williams Sonoma.

Our bar is made up of Target’s blue plastic coolers that are just $16.49.

The idea here is to use LL Bean canvas totes as pretzel and tara chip bowls. Line the bags and toss in snacks. The LL Bean tote plus monogram, $25, 800-441-5713. The invite is homemade from printer paper with an adhensive back cut in long strips.

The look is casual elegance, girly yet collegiate with a pretty palette of blue and lime green blankets, pillows and napkins in a mix of stripes and plaid. The look is eclectic-from the china, napkin rings, ice buckets and flowers. Since you don’t have to transport beyond your back door, bring out the good china. It’s best if all these pieces don’t match. Flowers should look like they were cut from the garden-not ordered. Arrange them in ice buckets, trophy cups or cocktail shakers. And if anyone wants to listen to the game, switch on the retro radio from Restoration Hardware.


Just let the charm of this mix and match idea inspire you. You don’t have to buy new things, use what you already own. Instead of a cashmere throw, use that handknit one from grandma on your couch. Instead of antique Victorian plates, use the best dessert plates in your cabinet. Instead of antique sterling silver napkin rings, use silver plated or pewter or whatever’s in your kitchen drawer.


The key to the perfect tailgate menu — no utensils! Everything is sipped or eaten with your hands to make cleanup easier. Even the fruit is on skewers for easy eating.

For appetizers, we have celery “chips” and salmon spread.

Sip shrimp bisque from glass mugs.

Serve spicy deviled eggs.

Billionaire’s bacon with brown sugar.

Sandwiches with steak au poivre or chicken and coleslaw. You can even stick a salad between bread. Serving sandwiches on gorgeous Victorian plates is the definition of casual elegance.

And, if you don’t have time to make football cookies or brownies, order them!


For entertainment at a traditional tailgate you have football, but this is not your traditional tailgate.

So put up a movie screen, or a white sheet tacked up against the side of your house or your garage if it’s flat and white. Arrange antique metal frame chairs or throw a plastic “oriental rug” on the grass-this rug is new from MadMats. Rent a projector and show football-themed films. You can even show home movies!

And if you’re still hungry for a snack: bring out the popcorn. Pour hot cocoa and mini marshmallows, spiked with flavored liqueurs in the mini bottles you get on airplanes — cognac, Kahlua, amaretto, etc.


I always get cold outdoors at night and your guests probably will, too. Wrap up the night with basket of warm hats, sweaters, pashminas, quilts, mittens and even cozy slippers on hand. This plastic laundry basket from Plastica makes a cheery container and it’s all about cheery containers.



Martini shakers: Silver ones from Williams Sonoma, $22, and Moon River Chattel, $22. Crystal monogrammed cocktail shaker, $99, from

Long silver tray, $79, or 800-950-7130.

Decorative glasses—large, $12; small, $10—from Mr. Pink in New York, 646-486-4147.

Miss Desiree crystal goblet, $25 each, Villeroy and Bach (800-VILLEROY).

Silver monogrammed plates: 12” plates, $150 each; 10” plates $120 from Rooms and Gardens in New York, 212-431-1297.

LL Bean tote plus monogram, $25, 800-441-5713.


Epsom paper from


Double hemstitched light blue tablecloth, $34, from Williams Sonoma, 212-980-5155.

Light blue thermos, $35, and blue and white-striped napkins, $20, from The Monogram Shop, East Hampton, New York (631-329-3379).

Large antique thermos, $35, and green and white-striped cushion, $18.50, from Moon River Chattel in New York City (718-388-1121).

Blue linen napkins, four for $34, Williams Sonoma (212-980-5155).

Antique sterling silver napkin rings from Tudor Rose in New York City (212-677-5239). $75-$110 each.

Green cashmere tartan throw, $750, and green two-tone cashmere pillow, $145, from Christopher Fischer, East Hampton, New York (631-907-0900).

Turquoise perky pillow, $75, from Denyse Schmidt Quilts, CT, 203-335-2719.

Sterling silver ice bucket with flowers, $88, at or 800-950-7130.

Brave Brown Bags in grass check, $90, and mulberry ticking, $100, at or 519-220-0451.

Spaulding football, $24.99, at Target (for stores, call 800-800-8800).

And if anyone wants to listen to the game, switch on Restoration Hardware’s retro Bush radio, $59, 212-260-9479. .


Salmon spread and celery chips in fabulous shallow blue porcelain bowls from Marcie McGoldrick design, $24-$42, 718-782-5901.

Shrimp bisque in glass mugs, $1 each, at Fishs Eddy in New York (212-420-9020).

Victorian tea set, $225, from Working Class in New York City, 212-941-1199.

Bacon and eggs are in fancy Tupperware! Littala air porcelain container with plastic lid, $55, from Moss in New York, (212-204-6677).

Sandwiches on blue rectangular platter, $22.95, from Fishs Eddy in New York (212-420-9020).

Gingham and seersucker fabrics, $8.95/yard, B&J Fabrics in New York City, 212-354-8150.

Football cookies and brownies are on china dinner plate, $120, from Paul Smith in New York (212-229-2471).


Recycled 6 x 9 plastic MadMats from Mariachi Imports, $70, 800-871-7495.

Striped blue rug, $100, Urban Outfitters in New York (212-475-0009).

2 blue antique metal folding chairs, $175 for the pair, from Moon River Chattel in New York City (718-388-1121).

Lime algae cushion, $145, and green polka dot cushions, $95, from Hable Construction, 212-343-8555 or

Cashmere throws from Christopher Fischer, East Hampton, New York (631-907-0900).


ABS blue and lime green vacuum jug thermoses, $57 each, Moss in New York, 212-204-7100.

Antique Victorian tea set, $225, from Working Class in New York City, 212-941-1199.

Silver monogrammed tray, $600. Rooms and Gardens in New York, 212-431-1297.

Popcorn served in Crate and Barrel thick sham serving bowl, $26.95.

Blue tablecloth, $8.95/yard, B&J Fabrics, New York City.


Woven plastic laundry basket. Plastica. $89, 323-655-1051 or

Beautiful queen rugby stripes quilt from Denyse Schmidt Quilts, $800, 203-335-2719.

Cashmere gloves, slippers, scarves and green honeycomb throw. From Christopher Fischer, East Hampton, New York (631-907-0900).

Faux fur trim corduroy jacket from American Eagle Outfitters,, $60.

You can find out more information about throwing an elegant tailgate from the October issue of In Style magazine.