Birthday Party – Tailgate Style!

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I’ve been absent from blogging for a few weeks. Between a birthday party for my 1 year old, back-to-back grandparent visits, back-to-school for my two older ones and soaking up the last few days of summer things have been busy around the Brown house. Hopefully you’ve been enjoying the craziness that comes with the end of summer.

In a break from my usual blog topics today I’m going to show you my 1 year old’s birthday party. Since his birthday this year landed on the opening day of college football we decided to take advantage and go with a football tailgate party.


The Menu

Food for a Tailgate Birthday Party

Chicken Wings with ranch
Fried Chicken
Veggie Tray

The above were all courtesy of our local supermarket. The rest I made.

Pizza Bites

Food for Tailgate Birthday Party - Pizza Bites

I found this recipe on Pinterest and it’s one of my new favorites. I did not make my own dough. Instead I spent $3 on a fresh whole-wheat dough ball from Whole Foods. This saved a lot of time. I went with the very simple pepperoni and a cube of mozzerlla for the filling but I suppose you could add whatever your favorite toppings are. A can of warmed pizza sauce for dipping and there wasn’t a single one left.

This recipe is courtesy of Annie’s Eats

½ batch pizza dough (enough for 1 pizza)
4 oz. mozzarella cheese, cubed (about 20-24 pieces)
Sliced pepperoni

For topping:
Olive oil
Italian seasoning
Grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400˚ F.  Lightly grease (Suzanne’s Note: I heavily greased my pan: aka Crisco to ensure they wouldn’t stick. I didn’t want to take chances) a 9-inch pie plate or cake pan.  Divide the pizza dough into 20-24 roughly equal sized pieces.  Take one of the dough pieces, top with a cube of cheese and a slice or two of pepperoni.  Pull the edges of the dough around the fillings and pinch closed.  Place seam-side down in the baking dish.  Repeat with the remaining dough pieces.

Lightly brush the tops of the dough balls with olive oil.  Sprinkle with Italian seasoning and grated Parmesan cheese.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.  Serve warm, with dipping sauce as desired.


Chips & Salsa

Food for Tailgate Birthday Party - Simple Corn Salsa

One of the moms in my playgroup shared this salsa recipe for me and I love how light and simple it is:

1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
1 can sweet corn, drained
1 can Rotel Original tomatoes with chilis – I half drained this. I wanted some of the liquid but not too much
fresh cilantro, loosely chopped
lime juice – this is to taste. I like the juice from one whole small lime

Combine and serve. Yum!


Taco Dip

Food for Tailgate Birthday Party - Taco Dip

This is my version of a 7-layer dip

1 can refried bean
1 lb ground beef, cooked & seasoned with taco seasoning
lettuce, shredded in the food processor
tomatoes, chopped
cheddar cheese, shredded in the food processor
Rotele & green onions (chopped) to garnish



Food for Tailgate Birthday Party - Buckeyes

I first discovered Buckeyes when I went to college in Indiana. Having grown up in California I had never heard of them. But one bite of these little balls of yum and I was hooked. This year I finally decided to learn to make my own.  There are a lot of recipes out there but I used this one from All Recipes


  • 1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips (Suzanne Note: I used 6oz of chocolate candy coating instead of chocolate chips)
  • 2 tablespoons shortening
  1. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and confectioners’ sugar with hands to form a smooth stiff dough. Shape into balls using 2 teaspoons of dough for each ball. Place on prepared pan, and refrigerate. (Suzanne’s Note: This is a good stopping place if you need to do something else. These will keep in the fridge covered in cling wrap for quite awhile)
  3. Melt shortening and chocolate together in a metal bowl over a pan of lightly simmering water. Stir occasionally until smooth, and remove from heat. (Suzanne’s Note: You can also melt in the microwave. Melt 1 minute, stir then continue melting 30 seconds at a time and stirring afterward until the consistency is right.)
  4. Remove balls from refrigerator. Insert a wooden toothpick into a ball, and dip into melted chocolate. Return to wax paper, chocolate side down, and remove toothpick. Repeat with remaining balls. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to set.

Muddy Buddies / Puppy Chow

This is an old favorite from junior high. My friend Sarah’s mom used to make it occasionally and whenever Sarah brought it in her lunch she was very popular with our lunch crowd. As a kid we always called in Puppy Chow but I prefer the name Muddy Buddies.

  • 9 cups Rice Chex® cereal
  • Peanuts (optional)
  • 8 oz chocolate candy coating
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 2 Tbsp shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Measure cereal into a large bowl. Add nuts if desired. Put into a 2-gallon zip top bag. If you don’t have a 2-gallon bag, split it into 2 1-gallon bags.
Melt shortening, chocolate & peanut butter together in the microwave 1 minute. Stir. Continue melting 30 seconds at a time and stirring afterward until the consistency is right.
Pour melted chocolate into zip top bag (or divided into the 2 1-gallon bags)
Zip bag and mix to coat.
Add powdered sugar. Seal bag and shake until well coated.
Spread onto waxed paper to cool.
Store in airtight container in refrigerator.
Chocolate Pretzel Bites
Tailgate Food Birthday Party - Chocolate Pretzel Bites

Another recipe I found on Pinterest. But it’s originally from the blog Megster Meter.

Hershey’s Kisses
M&Ms – I pulled out just the blue, yellow & green ones
Pretzel Twists

Layout the pretzels on a cookie sheet sprayed with non-stick spray. Top with one Hershey’s Kiss. Heat 5 minutes at 275*. Remove from oven and gently push an M&M into the center. Let cool. Refrigerate to harden completely and keep them from melting before eating.


Football Cupcake Cake

First Birthday Party Cakes Tailgate Party

Courtesy of Sam’s Club but if you have the patience it would be super easy to make your own.

The Decorations


Play Like A Champion Today sign

PLACT sign - Tailgate Party

This greeted guests on our front door upon arrival. I promise it looked much nicer before being manhandled by my kids after the party. Big thanks to my dad who freehanded the letters


A House Divided wreath

House Divided Wreath - Tailgate - Notre Dame Michigan

In this house we are split between rooting for the Irish of the University of Notre Dame and the University of Michigan Wolverines. I made this wreath to reflect that. To make this I used:

1 Wreath form
Wooden letters
Navy spray paint
Gold spray paint
Ribbon – Navy, gold, yellow
Wooden footballs

First I spray painted the letters and let dry (actually my dad did this!)

While those were drying I laid out the ribbon and used a small bit of fabric glue to attach the navy/gold and navy/yellow near the centers. I wanted the ends of the ribbons to hang separate but wanted the middles where they were getting tied to always stay together.

Once the fabric glue dried I tied them on the wreath and used hot glue to secure them down.

Next I hot glued on the letters and wooden footballs.

Finally I made a hanger out of the navy ribbon by tieing it it some loose branches on the back of the wreath and looping it at the top to make the hook. The wooden football on the hook (hot glued) keeps it in place.


Pennant Flags

Tailgate Party Birthday Pennant Favors

Tailgate Birthday Party Favors

These served as both decor and party favors. They were super easy to make.

Felt “squares” (they are really more like 8.5×11) in school colors of your choice
Iron-On letters
Felt sticky-back footballs and helments
Wooden dowels
Hot glue gun

Cut the felt into the triangular pennant shape. Cut out the letters and iron them on – leave enough room to wrap the far end around the dowel. Wrap the felt around the dowel and secure with hot glue. Add footballs, helmets or other decorations.


Pennant Birthday Banner 

Tailgate Birthday Party Banner

Tailgate Birthday Party Banner Varsity

To make this I used the same “varsity style” iron-on letters as from the pennants. Cut out triangles out of a piece of blue fabric I bought as a remnant. And attached them to leftover gold ribbon to make it hang. I have to give credit to my awesome parents who actually made this for me. It was my idea but they actually did all the work!



All in all the party turned out well and the kids had a good time. My baby loved his first cake (unlike his older sister) and the weather cooperated with a nice crisp fall-feeling kind of day. HUGE thanks to my parents who were visiting and were very patient in helping me create all the ideas in my head.


What’s your favorite tailgate food?

Delightfully,  Suzanne
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