Winning ideas for decorating teacher luncheons or any football gathering from where Friday Night Lights are king! ⟹
Fall means cooling temperatures, changing leaves, and most of all…football! Fall also makes me reminisce about good times I spent planning school teacher luncheons for six years. I know many people are planning events like this right now, so I thought I’d share what we did for a tailgate theme!
Before my kids benched me (football pun intended and get ready for LOTS more) into school volunteer retirement by growing up, the volunteer position I enjoyed the most was chairing the hospitality committee for our PTO. I co-chaired with two women that became great friends over the six years we lead this committee. We lovingly even referred to ourselves as the “dream team” because we all had the same crazy over the top ideas for how to put together a “simple” teacher lunch.
Set some food out and throw a centerpiece on each table over a disposable tablecloth? Oh noooooo… our main play was always “go big or go home” with our theme and decorations! I think one of the most fun and also challenging parts was how creative we had to be on a tight budget. Really almost all of the money allocated to the luncheons needed to go toward the food itself. We begged, borrowed, (but stopped short of stealing), and worked that budget sooooo hard. We wanted to elevate this lunch experience so that the teachers and staff would feel truly appreciated for what they did for our kids. The goal was to celebrate them with a party for an hour with their friends with great food and fun decorations. Not just a one time teacher appreciation luncheon either. We did this every month with a different theme!
Since September means the return of school and football, it was a natural most years for our kickoff luncheon to be football themed. It also solved the problem of cheap decorations. Between the three of us and our kids’ activities we already had loads of decor. A couple of times we brought in another friend (“special teams”) to guest cohost this luncheon because she had BOOCOOS of Dragon gear. I mean, who has a box of homecoming mums, 100 spirit towels, six full sized flags, and a huge inflatable football player??
The big play decorations.
You’ll see a mix of photos from two of the times we put on this luncheon. One was in the library and one was in a lecture hall usually used for meetings…two really big, bland spaces that we needed to fill up with BIG impact decorations to make the theme show up.
We brought in a tailgate tent for the entry table with the raffle signup and prizes in the library. We hung spirit towels and homecoming mums from it to show our school spirit:
And in the lecture hall we brought in two tents to cover our buffet and serving helpers:
Talk about big bang for your buck decor! Nothing says tailgate like the tent!!
And who could miss the huge inflatable football player?
To help decorate the massive blank walls in the lecture hall, we also put football games on the video screens, x’s and o’s football plays on the whiteboards, and hung school uniforms on the walls.
We borrowed D-R-A-G-O-N-S letter signs from the cheerleaders:
And their spirit signs from the hallway:
In the library we hung this inexpensive green pennant banner from the ceiling for big impact:
Second string decorations.
For the guest tables, we used base fabric tablecloths owned by school organizations and topped them off with football field runner and astroturf pieces. The centerpieces were vignettes comprised of football helmets and all of our miscellaneous Dragon spirit flair… car flags, megaphones, pom poms, beads, etc.
Dollar Tree or Oriental Trading were always a great affordable source for our table runners, ceiling flags, pennants, and centerpiece materials for all of the luncheons.
On the buffet and raffle tables we tucked in as much football flair as we could.
And on some of the tables we used overlays of fabrics we had in our school colors.
A party isn’t just about eating, so we had some tailgate activites too!
We got lots of spirit gear donated to raffle at the end of lunch. Teachers love winning something almost as much as good food!
There were photo opps available too:
And what’s a tailgate without cornhole?
And a party favor? They got to keep their cute football shaped glasses that we found at Dollar Tree.
To set the mood, we also played a “jock jams” Pandora station over the speakers in the background!
We stayed with our tailgate theme for the food. For the meal we had tasty tailgate fare like barbeque, fried chicken, baked beans, coleslaw, salads, chips, dips, deviled eggs, and more!
For dessert, we offered tailgate sweets in the “Endzone” like cookies, brownies, mini cupcakes, and even football shaped donuts from Krispy Kreme.
If you are looking for tailgate party food ideas, here are some that we included over the years:
- Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, cream corn, mac and cheese, green salad, BBQ brisket, baked beans, corn casserole, rolls, potato salad, coleslaw, pasta salad, green beans
- Veggie tray, deviled eggs, chips, Rotel dip, 7 layer dip, fruit tray, watermelon slices, sweet and unsweet iced tea, soft drinks
- Brownies, cookies, Krispy Kreme football donuts, cobblers, banana pudding, lemon squares, mini cupcakes
Tip: If you are planning a teacher luncheon, we always found that the teachers preferred homemade desserts if parents brought those but were always happy with any.
This luncheon theme was always a “W” with both food and fun and a great way to cheer our teachers on to a winning season!
As you can probably tell, our Texas town bleeds green. Our kids have the Dragon mascot from kindergarten all the way through graduation at every school in our district and the whole community is centered around family and united by our Dragon pride. My kids have both graduated but I will always be a “mother of Dragons“!
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