Autumn is here, and there’s no better time to throw a big tailgate party. Here are some tips for putting together a pre-game celebration that everyone will still be talking about at the end of the season.
Make it responsible
Let’s get this one out of the way first. It doesn’t matter how amazing your tailgate plans are if you and your guests trash the parking lot, drink irresponsibly, pick fights with other tailgaters or get kicked off the premises. So don’t do any of that. Know your tailgating location’s rules and regulations ahead of time. Make sure you’re prepared to pack out all the trash you bring in. Get along with your tailgating neighbors, even if they’re screaming for the other team. Most importantly, don’t overdo it with the alcoholic beverages (and if you do, have a designated driver at the ready).
Make it organized
Your tailgate party will go much more smoothly if you have a plan. Before the big day, make a checklist of everything you need to bring. (This is also a good time to familiarize yourself with the tailgating location.) Food and drinks are the obvious items, but don’t forget all the other things that should accompany them. Plates, bowls, utensils, napkins, trash bags, grilling equipment, cleaning supplies and containers or wraps for leftovers will make the day much more pleasant. You’ll also want to make sure there’s enough gas or charcoal for your grill, ice for your coolers and a power source for refrigerators and TVs.
Make it comfortable
Making sure all your guests are comfortable is key to a good tailgate party. Does everyone have something to sit on? Is your vehicle’s actual tailgate big enough to handle everything, or do you need to bring a folding table as well? While you’re at it, check the weather forecast. If rain is a possibility, consider bringing a pop-up tent, umbrellas and ponchos. Blankets and coats (and hot drinks) will take the edge off a cold and windy day. Sunscreen, headgear and insect repellent are a must for warmer conditions.
Make it tasty
Ah, food, the centerpiece of every memorable tailgate party. The options are endless, but think about which dishes you’ll want to make ahead and which ones you’ll want to prepare at the party site. If you’re making a hot dish that doesn’t involve grilling, make sure you have a slow cooker ready to go. Don’t forget sides, desserts and condiments! Of course, you’ll also want to make sure you have enough food for all your guests — and maybe a little extra for the tailgaters across from you who forgot to plan ahead.
Make it a party
Your tailgate event isn’t just any get-together; it’s a party for fans. You’ll want to represent your team in a bold, noticeable way. Think team shirts and hats, pennants, banners and any other customized gear you can gather. A good soundtrack will also help contribute to the festive atmosphere, so put together a playlist of everyone’s favorite fight songs and stadium jams. While you’re at it, bring along some fun games for when you’re not eating or getting ready to head inside the stadium. Cornhole, flip cup and KanJam are just a few of your many options.
With a bit of planning and preparation, you’ll be ready to pull off a tailgating party that’s almost as fun as watching your team score the winning touchdown. And if you and your crew aren’t into football, these tips apply just as well to other sports, or even a concert.