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Magnolia State college football tailgating soaring to new heights

Tailgating is not what it used to be. It’s still a portable meal served before a sporting event, but many participants like to introduce a touch of elegance. For some, the term “tailgating” is used loosely as tents are set up, complete with tables, chairs, floral arrangements and the finest accessories and serving pieces.

With evolving tailgating parties in mind, perhaps a special gift for the upscale tailgate event is in order this holiday season.

Alison Noble, catering manager of Ole Miss Catering in Oxford, suggests a chandelier to give the tent a touch of home while tailgating in the Grove on campus.

“There are sources of power in the Grove and you can bring extension cords to plug in electric chandeliers,” she said, “but most are chandeliers with candles and those look real nice.”

She also thinks McCarty pottery, trays, platters and linen tablecloths and napkins are good gift ideas. “We also can set up food and tablecloths if someone would like to give a gift certificate,” she said. “We use special recipes that people request, and we make flower arrangements, using school colors, mums and pumpkins.”

Event planner and decorator John D. Folding of Gulfport has some high-end gift ideas that are perfect for the Grove or any other tailgate setting, such as The Junction at Mississippi State University. There’s the one-minute drink chiller, a machine that can be plugged into a wall outlet or a car’s lighter for a power source.

“You put ice in it and it spins to just the right temperature for that particular drink,” he said. “The cost is $90.”

In the “amazingly decadent” catalogue “Vivre,” Folding found deluxe plastic flatware selling for $30 a place setting. “It’s molded plastic that looks like the fancy sterling silver patterns your grandmother might have had,” he said, “and it comes in six colors.”

From Tiffany’s there are sterling silver swizzle sticks designed by Paloma Picasso, retailing for $95. “You can’t go wrong with that blue box,” he said. “These are not your plastic umbrella stirrers.”

Folding, who’s been in the party planning and decorating business 20 years, says no upscale tailgate event is complete without caviar. “A four-ounce tin of Russian Beluga, the finest of the finest, serves two to four people and costs $580 plus shipping,” he said. “It should be served with an antique ivory spoon, or if that’s not available, you could always just do mother of pearl.”

At Mimosa Flowers and Gifts in Oxford, Dianne Falkner has a few items that are a bit more down to earth but make welcome tailgating gifts.

“One of our biggest sellers is Turvis Tumblers,” she says. “They’re very popular, unbreakable and they come with school logos, initials or generic.”

She also recommends numerous items with various Ole Miss symbols that include travel coffee mugs, shots for tequila, bottle openers that play the school song, hot mitts and aprons.

On that same basic note, Noble reminds that all university bookstores sell tailgating sets that include plastic cups, plates and printed napkins.

Donna West with the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce’s Make Mine Mississippi program advises that any of the gourmet food products made in the state make excellent gifts for tailgating or any other occasion.

“What better way to serve delicious, outstanding food and promote Mississippi?” she says. “We have more than 100 companies now producing specialty foods. There’s something for every taste.”

Cindy Tyler, owner of The Mississippi Gift Company in Greenwood, says a gift basket is always appropriate. “We have the small Mississippi Munchies basket and the large Best of Mississippi Basket that’s full of good things associated with the state,” she said.

Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynn Lofton at llofton656@aol.com.

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