Tailgating – the Ultimate Guide

Tailgating season is just around the corner. Are you ready? Even the most basic, no-nonsense guys will admit that a certain amount of preparation is needed if you want to host an enjoyable tailgating party. Here is a very thorough list that will guide you from packing to execution.


What to Pack Things to Set-up Shop

For many, tailgating can be an all day event. Or at the very least – several hours long. You’ll want the experience to be as enjoyable as possible. So, you need the best possible set-up.


  • Bungie cords and/or rope (they will come in handy when you need to secure a tent, rain tarp or flag
  • Tent or canopy (something to provide shade
  • Table, chairs, and table cloth
  • Flag


Giving your guests directions to your tailgating party can be challenging. Utilizing things like tents and flags provide landmarks to make the task easier (and add team spirit to your festivities).


Grilling Supplies

You can’t really call a gathering a tailgate unless there is a grill involved. It doesn’t need to be fancy; it just needs to get the job done! And, it would be a real bummer if you were all standing around watching the burgers burn because you don’t have anything to flip them.

So make sure you have the following items:

  • Grill
  • Extra gas or charcoal and lighter fluid
  • Matches or lighter
  • Cooking utensils (spatula, cooking fork, spoon, a good knife, etc.)
  • Oven Mitts
  • Apron
  • Water to douse flames before kick off
  • Fire extinguisher



TailgatingSome people might like to branch out and offer creative food options at their tailgating party. If women get involved, the food selection might even border on froufrou. However, there are some tailgating staples that just shouldn’t be messed with:

  • Burgers, hotdogs, brats (with appropriate buns)
  • Chips and dip/salsa
  • Anything that can be grabbed by the handful
  • Sweets
  • Anything above and beyond that is optional!




While tailgating, you can never have too much!

  • Ice
  • Water
  • In order to meet the needs of all your guests, you should have plenty of:
  • Non-alcoholic beverages (iced tea, sodas)
  • Alcoholic beverages (beer, rum, etc.) and mixers (orange juice, 7Up, etc.)

Also, make sure you have enough coolers to keep it all chilled.


Serving Necessities

  • Time to eat!  You will need:
  • Utensils (to serve food and to eat with), plates, cups
  • Napkins
  • Serving platters/plates (remember: cooked meat can’t be put on the same plate that held uncooked meat)
  • All the fixins: cheese, onions, tomatoes, pickles, barbecue sauce, salt/pepper, ketchup, mustard, etc.
  • Bottle opener/can opener/wine opener
  • Trash bags



Though they may see small and insignificant, these things can really put your tailgating party over the top.

  • Radio/iPod with play list
  • Extra batteries
  • Containers or plastic bags to store leftovers
  • Toolkit
  • Camera
  • Blankets
  • Rain gear/poncho/umbrellas
  • Sun block
  • Antacid
  • Toothpicks
  • First aid kit


Cash for parking

Always plan an activity or entertainment for your tailgating guests. Eating and drinking can only keep them entertained for so long.

  • A deck of cards
  • Cornhole,  ladder golf, washers, or other lawn games
  • Football
  • Frisbee

Perhaps this goes without saying, but don’t forget to pack the TICKETS!



Luxury Items

While not necessary, these items definitely make the tailgating experience more enjoyable.

  • Lighting (flashlights and lanterns) if the tailgating will extend past dusk
  • Extra rolls of toilet paper for the not-so-clean portable bathrooms
  • A bottle of hand sanitizer
  • For hot tailgating parties, a portable fan, for cold tailgating parties, a portable heater.


Packing It All Up

While you are packing, keep these things in mind:

  • Separate perishable and non-perishable foods. Also, keep uncooked meat separate from other food items.
  • Creating a tentative guest list will help gauge how much food and beverages you will need.


Execution of a Perfect Tailgate

The ultimate tailgater will take these things into consideration:

  • If you aren’t on home turf, make sure you are aware of applicable traditions, regulations, and expectations.
  • Plan on arriving at your tailgate site early or you may not be tailgating at all.
  • If you will have a lot of tailgaters, bring multiple vehicles.
  • Upon arrival, immediately set up your tailgate area’t boundaries so others won’t encroach on your space.
  • Make friends with your tailgating neighbors; you may need to borrow something.
  • Plan accordingly. You will need plenty of time to teardown your tailgate area before the event starts (keeping in mind grills will need time to cool down).
  • It is probable that some of your tailgating guests won’t have tickets for the main event. Bring a TV so some (or all) of your guests can watch from the comfort of the tailgating party.


    • If you’ve been drinking, make sure you have a designated driver.
    • Bring snacks and drinks for after the game while you wait for traffic to die down.

    Extreme Tailgating

    Some people subscribe to the concept that a tailgating party can never have enough team spirit. If you fall into that category, here are a few ideas that will probably be right up your alley.

    Create unique beverages or unusual snacks to match the setting (your team’s opponent, location, etc).

    If your event falls near a holiday, create a theme to add to the festivities.

    However, every tailgater should set a limit. You don’t want set-up and teardown to take longer than the actual party!


    Deane Adams is a professional tailgater; he has hosted a tailgating party at nearly all of his alma mater’s home football game for the last thirty years. His parties are never lacking in perfectly grilled food or entertainment (he gets all his cornhole supplies here.




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