It’s time to get ready for football and a little rowdy with a home tailgate party.

Can’t make the alma mater’s rival game this year? As long as you have a television and a few friends who love the team and the game as much as you do, all you need are a few tailgates and some food and beverages. We’ve got some ideas to make your tailgating fun no matter where you park your car or your fan base.

Provide Game Access

OK, no tickets necessary for a tailgate party at home, and maybe some of your guests will leave and head to the game when it starts. But those who can’t make the game want to watch. And even those who can make it often want to see the many hours of pregame programming. If you’re concerned about noise, keep the volume low and closed captioning on.

Setting up outside can be tricky, but it can be done. You can either rig up a screen and projector or bring the flat screen outside. Just do your best to protect it from rain and shield the screen from sun and glare. Or make it simpler – keep the TV inside for viewing of the game and pipe the radio coverage over wired or wireless outdoor speakers. And be sure to provide plenty of spots to sit and stand for game listening and viewing.

 Make It Real

If you’re going to make this a backyard tailgate party, you might as well make it feel like one. If your yard is open and not fenced, have everyone pull in like they would at a stadium parking lot and set up. You might as well have folding chairs and grilled or hand-held food. Just provide some shade and a few conveniences of home, like indoor plumbing and heating or air conditioning, depending on the elements. Other than that, it’s more fun to have coolers full of beverages and the usual trappings. Or just set up casual tables and chairs. It’s great to decorate and you should make it clear to all of  your neighbors who you’re rooting for, but there is no need to get fancy with your set-up, just one step more comfortable than the back of your car on pavement!

Make It Easy

If you’re providing all of the beverages, label your coolers so that guests can easily find their drinks. That’s especially helpful if kids are along. A cooler just for juice and soda, one for water, and one for beer and wine makes it much easier for your guests. And make it easy on yourself by cooking up food that doesn’t require hours of preparation or perfect timing in serving. Sure, you might need to worry about keeping cold foods cold and hot foods hot, but you don’t want to go with a soufflé, for instance! Keep with the theme by using plenty of coolers, maybe cutting up an inexpensive Styrofoam cooler to place under fruit or other foods that must be chilled. You can even keep hot food warm in coolers layered with foil.

Make It Fun

Kids need something to do. Go ahead and take advantage of any equipment in your yard (assuming it has not been parked upon) and let the kids swing or skateboard away. But consider adding a few games for kids and adults, like throwing a football through a tired hanging from a tree, friendly flag football, horseshoes or cornhole. Of course, fan wear, fatheads and team theme décor are musts for fun at any party.

Use the Grill

Portable grills are favorites of tailgaters and you can set up several so people can cook to their own preference or use your large backyard grill to prepare typical football fare. A charcoal fire and flavor is most authentic, but if you’re cooking for 30 guests, you probably want your large propane surface.

Since you’ve got a little more space and want to make your at-home party special, set up a toppings bar for your burgers or dogs. Have several kinds of pickles, chili and chile peppers, onions, a few gourmet mustards, onion rings, sprouts, mushrooms, sauces and unusual cheeses. Go all out with a few that match the team’s region or theme.

Listen in for more ideas on tailgating: