Tailgating is a time-honoured tradition for many sports fans. Gathering with friends and family before a game to eat, drink, play games, and show team spirit is a beloved pastime across many sports. Hosting an epic tailgate requires thoughtful preparation and packing the right gear. You can create a memorable atmosphere and the ultimate pre-game party for fellow fans with the proper tailgating equipment and supplies.
Necessary Tailgating Gear
Certain items are absolute tailgating necessities. With these tailgating essentials, you will be fully prepared to host a fantastic game day gathering:
Food and Beverages
Delicious food and drinks are a focal point of any tailgate. Pack a variety of easy-to-transport and eat finger foods, like burgers, hot dogs, chicken wings, nachos, or sliders. Bring non-perishable snacks like chips, pretzels, nuts, and candy. Remember condiments and toppings, too.
Pack a cooler with canned or bottled beer, wine, and soda to quench your thirst. Bring along a water jug and water bottles, too, so everyone can stay hydrated.
A grill is a tailgating must-have for cooking tasty burgers and dogs. You’ll also need grilling tools like spatulas, tongs, brushes, skewers, and oven mitts.
Bring serving dishes, plates, cutlery, napkins, cups, a knife, and a cutting board. A folding table is handy for setting up the food and drinks station.
Seating and Shade
Comfortable seating helps encourage guests to relax and stay awhile. Folding chairs or camp chairs are tailgating essentials. For extra comfort, choose chairs with padded seats or backs. Affixing your favourite team’s logo or colours makes them even more spirited.
Canopies, pop-up tents, and umbrellas provide vital shade in the stadium parking lot on sunny days. They also offer shelter if the weather turns.
A high-quality cooler keeps all your chilled food and drinks at optimal temperatures. Look for an ice chest that is well-insulated, durable, and large enough to hold everything you need. Soft-sided coolers are more accessible to transport, while rigid plastic coolers tend to retain ice longer.
Games give your tailgaters fun activities besides just eating and drinking. Transport and set up yard games like cornhole or ladder ball. A portable speaker with your tailgating playlist adds to the party environment.
Once you’ve got the tailgating basics covered, consider any extra touches that could take your pre-game festivities up a notch:
Showcase your team pride by decorating your tailgate zone in their colours and logos. Use balloons, streamers, banners, flags, and pennants. Display a handmade sign with your team’s rally cry. Use custom napkins and plates with the team emblem.
For night games, string up festive lights around your spot or place lanterns on tables. Reflective gear can also help make your tailgate more visible at dusk.
Many fans want to catch the pre-game show and sports news while tailgating. Bring a portable TV or tablet so your group can monitor your game’s pre-game analysis and early action or other matchups.
Games on Demand
A smartphone or tablet with classic games will give tailgaters unlimited entertainment options, including puzzle, word, strategy, and trivia games. Install a few free game apps to keep guests engaged for hours.
By getting creative with the menu, take your tailgating fare above basic burgers and dogs. Some ideas include buffalo wings, walking tacos, chilli, barbecue ribs, meatballs, or kebobs. Whip up a batch of themed Jell-o shots. Bake special tailgating treats like cookies or cake pops.
For ultimate convenience at your tailgate, bring a portable generator. This allows you to power appliances like a blender, TV, slow cooker, or coffee maker without reliance on your car. Just make sure the generator is allowed in the parking area.
Beyond typical tailgating games, think up other engaging activities for your guests. Hold an impromptu trivia contest. Design a fun scavenger hunt through the parking lot. Start some tailgating bingo by calling out familiar sights like rival fans or creative menus.
The sky is the limit when planning activities to add extra entertainment value to tailgating.
When preparing for a flawless tailgate, remember to plan for safety, too. Follow these tips:
Ensure everyone drinks enough non-alcoholic beverages to avoid dehydration, which can occur quickly in hot parking lots. Have a water cooler on hand and encourage fans to drink water.
If grilling meats and keeping other foods out for hours, be diligent about proper cooling and prep temperatures to avoid foodborne illness. Keep cold food chilled right up until serving.
Gear and Supplies
Make a checklist of everything packed for the tailgate and inventory supplies at the end before leaving. It’s easy to misplace essential (and expensive) gear like grills when packing up. Assign someone responsibility for ensuring all items get back into the right vehicle.
Make sure anyone who over-consumes is not planning to drive after the game. Have their keys held in advance and a plan for safe transit home via rideshare or taxi. Never let an intoxicated guest get behind the wheel.
Heat, dehydration, and overexertion are tailgating risks. Keep a well-stocked first aid kit on hand, sunscreen, and bug spray. Know the nearest medical facility in case of an emergency.
Tailgating done right brings fans together in team camaraderie and creates lifelong memories. Equipping your tailgate with chairs, canopies, games, food, and safety gear allows you to optimize the pre-game experience. Use these recommended tailgating must-haves and tips to throw an epic party that will have your fellow fans cheering well beyond the final whistle. Your tailgate will be a smash hit with the proper preparation and supplies!