It’s Time to Tailgate: Setting the Scene

When the air gets crisp and the trees change from cool canopy to leafy fireworks, it’s time to pack the back of the pickup with coolers, seating, and setups for a fun afternoon of tailgating.


We brought along the snacks, sandwiches, drinks, and desserts, of course, but we also added some vintage elements (starting with a classic 1971 Ford truck) and ideas to make the outdoor celebration just a bit more special. We divided our setup into two areas with the pickup tailgate as our savory buffet, while a folding table under a canopy serves sweets.


A blue patchwork bandanna quilt stands in as a tablecloth over the pickup bed. Vintage picnic tins, coolers, and tote in a bold red plaid transport the food and form a patterned backdrop for the spread. An old bushel basket keeps wooly throws available to wrap up in if the weather gets chilly.


A large wicker tray corrals snacks in rolled paper sacks (from Target in our simple color scheme of red and blue) that surround the hot soup kept warm in vintage Thermos flasks. An old locker basket holds melamine plates at the ready. If you don’t have a lot of vintage items you can still get a similar look with things you may already have on hand. Look in your cupboards or storage for baskets, hampers, tubs, totes, cutting boards, baking tins, and jars.


For convenience, roll cutlery inside bandanna napkins and secure with twine. We popped the flatware sets into a vintage metal lunchpail.


An old bread board provides a cutting surface for cheeses and sandwiches.


For our dessert station, we set up a folding table covered with a classic Native American blanket under a protective shelter. A piece of heavy-duty burlap shields the collectible textile.


Amber and Andrew chat under the canopy. A group of folding chairs is a lightweight solution to seating but we added some character with a sofa made of straw bales.

Three bales (two stacked in back, one in front) are enough to give you a stable couch or you can include a bale turned on its side on either end to create arms for your straw sofa.


Enlivened with vintage college pennants, a felt throw brings color, whimsy, and warmth to the straw seating.

Studio_Session-194To make a throw, start with a 72-inch square of felt. Lay the fabric on the floor and arrange pennants in a circle radiating from the center of the felt. Most of our pennants were about 26 inches long but a little variety in size adds energy to the design. Keep the colors balanced in your arrangement and pin in place. With a sewing machine, sew the pennants to the felt with a straight stitch around the inside edge of each triangle.

Just a thought: The finished throw also makes a fun coverlet for a teenager’s bed.


Don’t forget to get out of the chair and keep the muscles warm! Toss around a football to get geared up for the big game. Andrew’s got the tuck down at least.


Bring along a pair of beanbag toss game boards (aka cornhole game in the Midwest) for a friendly competition. To make your own affordable version of this popular game, check out these easy instructions:

Paint it in your team colors and remember that the slicker the surface the better.


Amber shows off her form. The beauty of this game is that you can hold a beverage in one hand and toss with the other! Purchase game-standard 6-inch beanbags or make your own with fabric scraps and plastic pellets. To make a beanbag, cut out two 7-inch squares of fabric. Sew right sides together with a half-inch seam all around except for a two-inch opening on one side. Turn the fabric right side out and using a funnel, fill the bag with plastic pellets. Fold the raw edges inward and close the opening with a pin. Sew the opening closed with a whip stitch.

In our next post: The Food!

Thanks, Elaine, for all your help!

© Caruth Studio

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1 Comment

  1. I love these ideas! This would be great on the patio as well.

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