How fun is that glorified picnic we call tailgating!

Well, it’s that time of year again—our weekends are now devoted to football. I must admit that I don’t 100 percent understand this game. In fact, a 40 percent understanding is a bit more accurate, even though I have a son who played college ball! Those Saturdays dedicated to a college game were some of my favorite moments in life. And how fun is that glorified picnic we call tailgating! The food adventure is as big a part of the game as the plays on the field. (As my mother-in-law always says, “The game is what we do after having our hamburger!)

As much as I love tailgating, I would love it even more if my family would allow me to do it my way! My tailgating menu would rival that of a fine restaurant…and the beverages to accompany my Football Foodarama—watch out! Let me throw out some designer-ish ideas and see what you think! As you might have noticed, I like to fantasize about changes to everyday life events, from doing the laundry to sipping a cup of tea. My ideas might seem over the top, but they are really just putting some organization and imagination into your experiences. So, refill that morning drink and see what you think of my tailgating vision.

Set Up in Style

You know me: I’m into detail. The first detail is the car itself. I arrive at the game with my team’s name and mascot emblazoned on my car. Bob and I both went to KU, so of course the Jayhawk is our mascot of choice. I love the colors associated with the Jayhawk—sooo collegiate—and plaid is just such a given for a decked-out tailgate. I come driving up in my little white toaster (Sion XB), and my yellow-and-white interior is just the cat’s meow. I roll into position and pop open the back.

All the essentials for a festive fall celebration—silver, plaid dinnerware, divine plaid blankets—are perfectly arranged in old classic leather suitcases, wicker hampers, or canvas bags from perhaps thirty-one ( HYPERLINK "" An assortment of classic plaid throws make for perfect tablecloths and picnic blankets for an autumn Saturday. (Look for them at garage sales, second hand stores-Pendleton's are a huge score, even Walmart, and Dillard's, this certainly is the proper season for your search.) I scatter pop-up chairs around the area and, of course, drape them in plaid throws as well. One case is loaded with plaid melamine dinnerware with our elegant monogram on them—so stylish, but so practical. (Try HYPERLINK "" , HYPERLINK "", or for your own custom plates.) In this same case I stock glassware that looks like glass but is, surprise, plastic, functional and beautiful (available at Cost Plus World Market). In this same case I load up all the flatware, which is rolled into white cloth napkins tarted up with—what else?—tartan ribbon (available at places such as Jo-Ann’s, Hobby Lobby and Walmart).

As I start my setup, Bob pulls out our sound system and soon the music for a fall game is humming the activities along. Out come two long tables that I cover in plaid blankets and the buffet set up begins. At one end, a stack of plaid plates sits on an empty case and the bundled flatware graces a silver tray. Another silver tray serves up beef tenderloin sandwiches with a silver carousel for all the sandwich accoutrements. A ruby red bowl, also plastic but totally undetectable, brightens up homemade applesauce. I arrange a harvest of wonderful fresh veggies, including little sweet pickles and tart little dills, with almost floral-like precision. Apple cider served in pewter steins makes the perfect fall beverage. It is all about gracious living!

I place another serving table, sheathed in plaid, perpendicular to the buffet table. To make a beverage station, one of the empty leather cases displays plastic pitchers filled with additional beverages, several silver buckets serve up the ice, and a variety of glasses surround the drinks. (As you’ve noticed, everything is plastic to conform to the campus policy of no glass in the tailgating area.) The ice chest is tucked under the table, handy but out of sight. Yes, in my dream, I went to the trouble of getting drink napkins printed with “Go KU!” and “Tailgating 2013!”

Oh ladies, aren’t you loving this elegant display of sportsmen-like enthusiasm? It takes no more time to make events elegant than to endure ho-hum! Now clearly this is a wonderful event for me to daydream about, but it is not impossible. It just takes some inventive ideas and your own creative mind kicked into overdrive. This beautiful and attentive celebration does not need to be limited to your favorite college campus. How about at a Chiefs game—or, better yet, in your own backyard. After all, we only get one fabulous fall a year and we should celebrate it with pure grandeur.

I hope I have you franticly thinking of amazing and creative ways to welcome football and fall into your family life. Enjoy the beginning of my favorite season—I know a good share of you also love fall the best as well! So get out there and root for someone, maybe a grandson who is an Oriole!

Just for you ladies, I will end with some funny words from the late and great Phyllis Diller:

“HYPERLINK ""The reason women don’t play football is because 11 of them would never wear the same outfit in public.”

See you next week! Go take a walk and enjoy our changing world!

Jan Colvin has been a professional interior designer for over 25 years (Allied ASID). She accredits her mother Pat Robinson and Lucille Chase for her intense interest and love for design. 

She has taught interior design at the college level and operated her private design business since 2001. Look for her new book soon!

Jan welcomes questions, which will be answered in her columns. Send your questions to: