Tailgating is a time-honored tradition for sports fans across the country. Gathering with friends and family before the big game to eat, drink, and get pumped up is a beloved pastime. As a seasoned tailgater, I’ve learned many lessons over the years about what works and what doesn’t when trying to host an epic tailgate party. Read on for my best tailgate party tips to make your next pregame celebration one for the ages!
1. Check The Weather Forecast
The first key tip is to closely monitor the weather leading up to your tailgate date. Checking the forecast will allow you to dress accordingly and bring the proper gear and accessories.
Pack Clothing for the Conditions
Take the expected high and low temperatures into account when choosing what to wear. Layering is always a smart approach. Bring items like jackets, ponchos, and umbrellas if rain is expected.
If cold weather is predicted, make sure to have warm boots, gloves, and hats available. Bundling up will allow you to comfortably enjoy the festivities.
Provide Shelter from the Elements
Windy or rainy weather may call for setting up a canopy tent to give your guests a reprieve. This can also attract tailgaters seeking cover if a storm blows through.
For frigid tailgate parties, consider bringing a portable propane heater to ward off the chill in the air. Having some refuge from the cold will make the experience more pleasant.
Prepare Warm Beverages
No matter what the weather brings, having something warm to drink is always welcome. Bring along an insulated urn filled with coffee, apple cider, or hot chocolate to satisfy guests. The smell of something steamy and delicious will draw in both friends and strangers alike.
Stay Hydrated in the Heat
When tailgating on hot, sunny days keep a cooler stocked with bottled water and sports drinks. Bring some spare empty reusable water bottles as well. This allows people to refill and stay hydrated throughout the day’s festivities. Don’t forget the sunscreen either!
2. Make Some Noise with a Tailgate Speaker
A key ingredient for an electric atmosphere at any tailgate is music. Investing in a high-quality Bluetooth tailgate speaker is a must in my book. Choose a loud portable speaker that can pair with your smartphone wirelessly.
Crank Up the Volume
Select some pumping up tunes and turn up the volume! This will get people excited and bring the energy level up a few notches. Letting the music blast creates a fun environment.
Use Stereo Sound
For extra audio power, you can bring two speakers and set up a left/right stereo pairing. Some speakers also offer PartyChain capabilities allowing you to daisy chain multiple units together for expanded sound. This takes the audio experience to the next level!
3. Arrive Early to Claim Your Territory
Competition for prime real estate in the parking lot is fierce. To secure an ideal tailgating spot, make sure to get there early. Not only will this ensure you have plenty of room to set up, but it also minimizes how far you have to walk to the stadium entrance.
Scout Locations in Advance
I recommend doing a pre-tailgate scouting trip to survey the scene. Take note of spots that are closer to restrooms, concession stands, or shaded from the sun. Come game day, you’ll have insider knowledge of where the best locales are.
Look for Tailgating Regulars
Keep an eye out for groups that seem to stake the same spot regularly. Chat with them to get a sense of when they normally arrive to set up. Then plan your arrival time accordingly to avoid a parking lot turf war!
4. Bring a Trash Receptacle
Nothing ruins the tailgating ambiance quicker than a messy overflowing pile of garbage. Make your cleanup easier by bringing a pop-up trash can or large refuse bag. This gives people an easy spot to dispose of plates, cups, and napkins.
Keep Your Site Tidy
Having a designated trash repository means you won’t have to run around scooping up scattered trash items. It also keeps your tailgate looking neat and organized for any photo ops!
Enable Responsible Cleanup
Most parking lots require you to take all your own tailgating rubbish when you leave. A trash can makes it simpler to collect all waste yourself instead of leaving it behind. This promotes being respectful of the space.
5. Decorate the Tailgate Site
An easy way to pump up excitement is by decorating your setup. Show your spirit by displaying team flags and banners. For night games, use battery powered string lights to enhance visibility and ambiance after sunset.
Pick a Creative Theme
Tailgating themes are a fun way to stand out from the crowd. Come up with something original like a Hawaiian luau, beach bash, or Oktoberfest party. Decorate accordingly with tiki torches, leis, inflatable palm trees or beer steins!
Use Props for Photos
Have some fun photo booth style props on hand like team logo signs, hats, face paint or costume items. This allows people to snap memorable pictures at your one-of-a-kind tailgate. Great photos are the sign of a great time!
6. Charge Your Speaker Batteries
Few things can ruin a tailgate quicker than the playlist grinding to a halt due to a speaker running out of battery. Remember to charge up your Bluetooth speakers the night before the big day. This ensures you’ll have uninterrupted music all day long.
Allow Mobile Device Charging
Many Bluetooth tailgate speakers offer built-in USB ports to charge phones or tablets. This is a useful feature since people will drain their batteries taking photos, posting on social media, and streaming music. Keep the party going by letting guests get a quick power boost.
Have Backup Batteries Ready
As an extra precaution, I always bring some fully-charged external battery packs. In the unlikely event that the speaker loses juice, we can still keep the tunes going strong with the backup batteries. Redundancy is key for nonstop entertainment!
7. Fire Up the Grill
In my opinion, a tailgate isn’t complete without some grilled food sizzling on the barbecue. Break out your portable propane or charcoal tailgating grill to cook up burgers, dogs, or kabobs. Sharing delicious BBQ fosters camaraderie.
Support Local Eateries
Instead of sweating over the grill yourself, you can order tasty take-out food from restaurants near the stadium. This is a win-win supporting local businesses while providing your crew with fantastic eats!
Bring a Food Truck
For large tailgates of 50+ people, consider hiring a food truck to cater the event. Taco trucks, pizza wagons, and sandwich trailers are great options that provide variety. Just be sure to give them an accurate attendee headcount.
Use Proper Food Safety
When handling any perishable foods, be vigilant about proper storage, cooking temperatures, and hygiene. Keep cold food chilled below 40°F in coolers until ready to grill. Separate raw and cooked meats to prevent cross-contamination. Avoid leaving food out too long in hot conditions.
8. Remember the Tailgating Essentials
Beyond the major elements like food, music, and decor, don’t overlook the critical little details that separate an average tailgate from an exceptional one. Make sure to pack:
- Extra ice to replenish coolers as it melts.
- Bug spray and sunscreen to prevent pests and burns.
- Plates, napkins, cutlery, and cups.
- Bottle openers, can openers, and a corkscrew.
- Towels or blankets to sit on and keep warm.
Make a Tailgate Checklist
With so much to remember, I always keep a running checklist on my phone of must-have items. Review it the day before I head to the tailgate so I never leave anything important behind. Having a list prevents forgetting critical things in the excitement leading up to game day!
9. Prioritize Safety
While having fun should be the main goal, safety should also be top of mind at any tailgate. Be very cautious navigating the parking lot on foot due to all the moving vehicles. Avoid injuries by paying attention and not walking behind reversing cars.
Ensure Responsible Drinking
For tailgates with alcohol, always remember to drink responsibly. Have bottled water and soft drinks available as non-alcoholic options. Assign a sober designated driver for each group attending. This guarantees everyone can celebrate safely.
At the end of the day, remember that tailgating should be an enjoyable prelude to the game for everyone involved. Keeping it safe, clean, and well-organized is the recipe for an epic party that will have people eagerly awaiting your next shindig. Just follow my tailgating commandments outlined above and your next tailgate will score a decisive victory!