Making Tailgating Elegant and Easy

What goes great with football, NASCAR, concerts, and days at the beach?

Tailgating, of course.

Tailgating no longer means half-cooked hot dogs and warm soda, though.

You can eat good food in a civilized manner, without spending more time serving than enjoying the day.

Nancy Soriano, editor in chief of Country Living magazine, has the latest gadgets and tips on more elegant, yet easy, tailgating.

Tailgating Tips

Portability: Everyone says they'll plan ahead, but they usually end up throwing things in the car at the last minute the morning of the tailgating party. You don't need to bring a lot. Make a few smart choices about what you need and make sure everything you bring is easy to move.

Serving: Just with any kind of entertaining, you'll need tools to cook and eat with, as well as additional surfaces for food preparation and eating. That's why pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles are so great for tailgating -- your prep table and buffet come with your car. You might want to bring a fold-up table and chairs, and some compact plates and utensils.

Packing: The keys here are speed and space efficiency. You want packing to be fast so you can get to the game. Use folding or collapsing items, which make packing and storage easier.

Featured Tailgating Products

Coleman Road Trip Grille

This portable, lightweight grill has fold-up legs, so you can pack up and get to the game in no time. Plus, there's no charcoal, so cleanup is a snap.

Purchase at www.coleman.com; $195.00

Battery-Operated Blender

Great for fresh drinks, smoothies or margaritas. Just charge it the day before your party, and it lasts 20 hours.

Purchase info: www.after5catalogue.com; $69.99

Sonic Impact Sound System With iFusion Speakers

Music creates an ambiance that you just can't buy. This comes in its own carrying case, so it's great for the park, tailgating parties, etc.

Purchase info: www.apple.com; $150.00

Thermos Party Chest

This 66-quart "cold-n-fold" collapsible party chest holds up to 108 12-ounce cans, so capacity is perfect for a party. Packing is simple -- just pour out the ice and fold up.

Purchase info: www.thermos.com; $29.99

Koko Plastic Floor Mats

These beautiful plastic floor mats marry the two worlds of fashion and function. Take your shoes off and relax, turning your parking lot into the perfect party.

Purchase info: www.kokotrends.com; $36-$46

Rubbermaid Egg Keeper

Holds 20 eggs in individual spaces, perfect for storing or transporting.

Available at multiple retailers $4.99

Rubbermaid Collapsible Container

Opens to different capacities and collapses down to one inch to save space. Great for potato salad.
Purchase at Wal-Mart/Target; $5-$8

Sandwich Baskets

These are a fun alternative to paper plates, because they're reusable and more "lap-friendly."

Purchase info: www.PlumParty.com; $16 for six

Red Etch-It Cups

A new way to claim your cup -- no marker required!

Purchase info: www.PlumParty.com; $10 for 32

Food Writer Edible Color Markers

Have kids draw designs on flat-top cookies to keep them entertained.

Purchase info: www.PlumParty.com; $8

Chalk and Place Mat Set for Kids

Let kids play at the table, without interrupting your meal.

Purchase info: www.PlumParty.com; $34 for set of 4

Plastic Grass Runner

Sick of the concrete jungle? Use this to add some green to your tailgating party. Put on the back of your trunk when the back door is down.

Purchase at www.PlumParty.com; $24.00

Micro Table

This table is lightweight aluminum, and its legs fold up for easy transport.

Purchase info: www.REI.com; $26.95

Byer Lounge Chair With Back

Because this supercomfy lounge chair folds, it makes it easy to "take it easy" anywhere you go.

Purchase info: www.REI.com; $35.95