Football and other fall sports are in full swing, which means tailgating season is back. Picnicking and grilling in the parking lot with other fans before and after the game is a beloved tradition, so you’ll want to get it right. Follow these tips for hosting a fantastic tailgate party.
Bring a feast
A tailgate party isn’t complete without delicious foods and drinks, so it’s best to plan your menu before the game and prep any dishes you can before game day. Hamburgers and hot dogs are traditional tailgating fare, but if you would like to impress the crowd, you could surprise them by making an unexpected yet just as satisfying dish like grilled pizza, Mexican street corn salad, or grilled cedar-plank salmon. For dessert, you could make a s’more no-bake pie, loaded bacon bark, or game-day cookies decorated in team colors. And, while your guests may appreciate soda and other satisfying beverages, you should also have plenty of water on hand to help keep everyone hydrated.
Get your gear
You’ll need a cooler to transport your beverages, cheeses, and perishable items (and it may be helpful to have a separate one for your meats), and don’t forget can and bottle openers. Also, consider bringing a few folding tables so you have a place to set out your food. If you intend on grilling, you could bring a lightweight portable grill, along with a lighter, fuel, and grilling utensils. You can limit the amount of waste you create while tailgating by utilizing reusable plates, cups, utensils, napkins, and take-home containers and by having garbage bags for your trash.
Keep in mind that your party might last a few hours. So bring a charger for your cell phone, and protect your guests from the elements by providing a pop-up canopy to shield them from the sun, wind, and rain, and, depending on the temperature, a portable fan or heated folding chairs.
Make it fun
During your tailgating party, you could bring game-day items such as a football, team pennants, pom-poms, and face paint. For extra fun, set up games like ladder toss, cornhole, or a football toss game, and bring along a Bluetooth speaker so you can share some tunes. And don’t forget to take photos of all the excitement!
Finalize your preparations
Some stadiums and venues have regulations for where you can park and what items are permitted in their parking lots, so check the rules before heading to the game. Make a list of what you plan to bring as well—you don’t want to regret leaving anything behind. In addition to the items mentioned above, it’s a good idea to pack a first aid kit, hand sanitizer or wipes, bug spray, a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, rain jackets, and a fire extinguisher.
If possible, fuel up and pack any nonperishable items you are bringing the day before—this will also give you an early idea of how much will fit in your vehicle. Try to get to the parking lot at least four hours before kickoff to secure a good tailgating spot, and find a parking spot near a grassy area, if possible, to have more room to set up your gear. Plan to serve your food at least two hours before the game starts so you’ll have time to clean up before heading to the field or stadium. Finally, remember to be courteous to other tailgaters near you so that everyone can have a good time and enjoy the game.