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Pet-Friendly TAILgate Party + Make Your Own Hot Dog Buffet

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Looking to kick up your creative game at the next tailgate party? Good news: you’re in the right place!

From boatloads of game day inspired printables to tips for setting up a make-your-own hot dog buffet that looks as good as it tastes, this post is packed with lots of FREE goodies and easy-to-recreate ideas for both sports fans and pet parents alike. Why pet parents, you ask? Well… we all know that it’s way more fun to tailgate with friends, so of course that includes your BEST friends of the 4-legged variety too, right?! I know that Layla definitely thinks so:


As a longtime pet parent myself, and a big animal lover in general, I was thrilled to collaborate with Petco – whose name also happens to grace our awesome downtown ballpark here in San Diego – on this Playful and Pet-Friendly TAILgate Party Theme. Whether you utilize just 1 or 2 quick ideas from this post or recreate something similar from start to finish, I hope it’s helpful in making your next game day get-together feel like even more of a WIN. ;)

And with 4th of July celebrations just around the corner, you might find the red, white, and blue color palette of the sporty style printables especially handy right now too!


Since there’s lots of stuff to cover, here’s a little overview of the different sections you’ll find in this post – in order – so that you can quickly find what you need:

  • General Overview (intro images)
  • Make Your Own Hot Dog Buffet
  • Refreshments Cooler
  • Doggy Treat Buffet
  • GAME ON! Activity Table

(And click here to access all of the free Tailgate Printables that I designed for this theme.)

P.S. Speaking of Petco Park, their annual Dog Days of Summer event is next week (Wednesay, July 1st), and you can follow all of the exciting things that are happening live by following @Petco on Periscope, or get in on the action with a Padres spirit doodle contest on Snapchat at PetcoSnaps.

Petco Park

And now back to the party….


Here’s a quick peek at the Doggy Treat Buffet, or “Good Dog Concessions Stand” as we dubbed it for this theme. I’ll explain more on this below…



• • • • • T H E  H O T  D O G  B U F F E T • • • • •


Okay… kicking things off with the Hot Dog Buffet! These are always a crowd-pleaser and have become kind of a go-to in my house when it comes to casual summer parties. I love that you can just put a bunch of colorful toppings out and let guests make their food just like they like it!

To style things up a bit here, I lined the underside of inexpensive disposable trays with patterned paper to make coordinating serving trays. Here’s how they looked before the food went on:


Because of the pet tie-in to this theme, I thought it would be fun to incorporate dog silhouettes into the Hot Dog station and have a little fun with the play on words, which is how these “Hot” Dog and “Chili” Dog signs came about:


The wooden serving spoon for the chili was embellished with colored duct tape stripes for a sporty look. This is one of my favorite inexpensive party tricks, and was actually used on lots of other elements in this theme too.


The printable mini pennant flags pictured above make for cute food picks, straw flags, and cupcake toppers!

Here’s another place where the duct tape trick came in handy… these are disposable forks (for the chili), but you can do this with real silverware too:


The “Dig In” silhouette is included in the free printables as well, and you’ll see another one of the talk bubble silhouettes on the napkin holder (pictured below). I couldn’t resist putting “Wipe Your Paws” on there as a playful tie-in to the theme once again. Sometimes the smallest details are the most effective… especially when they have a tendency to incite a smile. ;)


• • • • • R E F R E S H M E N T S • • • • •


When it comes to refreshments at tailgate parties, coolers are always king. (This red one can be found here.) What goes inside will vary from crew to crew, but water is always a staple, of course! I designed a couple general signs to label each side of the cooler accordingly, and you can download them both here.


Colored duct tape was used to temporarily add some sporty stripes to the cooler + a printable “Refresh” pennant flag and a simple fabric bunting banner for the finishing touch!

• • • • •  D O G G Y  T R E A T  B U F F E T  • • • • •


We already talked about the human’s food buffet, so now let’s dig into a different buffet that’s designed especially for the 4-legged party guests!

This dog-friendly “Concessions Stand” is created from outdoor-safe melamine and acrylic jars filled with various treats. To keep things easy, I just used store-bought treats this time around, but you can always make your own treats too! Here’s a great recipe from Petco for homemade Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits.

The jars are also embellished with playful dog-inspired phrases that are general enough to  work with any of your favorite treats (i.e. “go FETCH, CHEW on this”, etc.) Inexpensive toys like Petco Tennis Balls and Flying Discs make a great addition to the edible treats too!


Of course there’s more than enough treats here for one day, so it’s a good idea to have “Doggy Bags” ready for extras to take home! All of the paper details below are also part of the free printable collection.





I really love the modern look of the Bowlmates by Petco collection and used the small dog dishes in red and blue to match the theme here.

• • • • •  G A M E  O N !  A C T I V I T Y  T A B L E  • • • • •


When it comes to tailgating, the first thing most people think of is the food, but a close 2nd is the GAMES! Setting up a small station with different activities is always a great idea… and to keep things organized here, I set out separate bins for the dog toys and the “people toys”. ;)

In addition to traditional games like corn hole, ring toss, and Frisbees, photo props like megaphones and giant foam fingers are always fun too!


Last but not least, remember that relaxing is an important activity too, so make sure to have a comfy place for ALL of your guests to chill out! When it comes to your dog, this means things like pet beds, plenty of water and lots of shade. It was a cool morning when we took these pictures and our Easy-Up definitely helped keep things nice and cool, but remember to always have paw protection handy for your dogs when the asphalt is hot.


Big thanks to Petco for the opportunity to work on this project – and to my friend Mimi for letting us play with her adorable little Layla for the day! Here’s to lots more fun game day celebrations this season enjoyed by friends of all kinds! ;)

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  1. @honestywedding June 28, 2015 at 11:07 am

    Pet-Friendly TAILgate Party + Make Your Own Hot Dog Buffet #catering #wedding http://t.co/YR4oowKfJd

  2. @AllAboutNuptial June 28, 2015 at 2:36 pm

    Pet-Friendly TAILgate Party + Make Your Own Hot Dog Buffet http://t.co/IEzF9Zc0Fo

  3. bunga papan bandung June 29, 2015 at 2:22 am

    Very beautiful, you gave me the idea for make party on this weekend

  4. Michelle Knox - Ellery Designs June 29, 2015 at 12:34 pm

    Oh so cute!!! Love it!

  5. @HWTM_Jenn June 30, 2015 at 12:32 pm

    Excited to team up with @Petco on this Pet-Friendly TAILgate Party! Find inspiration + tons of FREE Printables here: http://t.co/vfbnC2s77n

  6. Pet-Friendly TAILgate Party + Make Your Own Hot Dog Buffet - My Memorable Event July 3, 2015 at 3:33 pm

    […] Click here to view original, full article at Pet-Friendly TAILgate Party + Make Your Own Hot Dog Buf… […]

  7. Jeff Hooker December 18, 2015 at 7:14 am

    That gives a whole new meaning to "tail" gate party. I love it!

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