Do you pay for food at a tailgate party?

One of the best ways to enjoy a sporting event is by attending a tailgate party first. But let’s review what they are and whether guests pay for food. 

Do you pay for food at a tailgate party

In most cases, guests need to pay for food at a tailgate party. When attending a party hosted by friends, it’s customary to buy food to bring or drinks to contribute. When attending a professionally hosted tailgate party, there is an entry fee that gets paid by guests for food and drink. 

A tailgate party is an American tradition that has been around for decades. The idea of a tailgate party is to gather everybody before the event starts to have food, drinks, and socialize. We will explain more about this event and what guests need to pay for when attending one. 

Do You Pay For Food At A Tailgate Party?

Tailgate parties are a time-honored tradition at sporting events, concert venues, and other outdoor gatherings. They are great for friends and families to come together, enjoy food and drinks, and get ready for the main event.

But one question that often arises is whether guests at a tailgate party are expected to pay for their food and drinks or whether the host covers the costs. This depends on whether it’s a party amongst friends or a professional event hosted at the venue. 

We must pay for food if we plan to host a tailgate party. Most venues also have parties hosted where guests pay a small fee for unlimited access to food and drinks. 

In nearly every scenario, guests must pay for the food and drinks at a tailgate party. There are rare cases where this might not be true, though.  

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How Much Does A Tailgate Party Cost?

It is difficult to say precisely how much a tailgate party will cost, as the cost can vary depending on several factors. It can cost as little as $30-$40 for entry to a professionally hosted party or a few hundred dollars to host one. 

Hosts can expect to spend a few hundred dollars on a tailgate party, depending on the specifics of the event. It’s always a good idea to create a budget and stick to it to avoid overspending while allowing guests to bring items. 

The costs will also vary based on stadiums, events, and other factors. For example, we once attended a Philadelphia Eagles tailgate hosted for anybody in the area to attend. It costs $30 to get into the party, with unlimited food and drinks. 

The key to a successful tailgate party is clear communication and setting expectations in advance. This is true for guests and hosts to help ensure that everyone has a great time and that the party goes off without a hitch.

How Do Tailgate Parties Work?

If the tailgate party is small and intimate, with only a few close friends or family members in attendance, it is generally expected that the host will cover the costs of the food and drinks. 

This is because the party is more like a casual get-together or a potluck, where everyone brings something to share. In this case, guests are not expected to pay for their own food and drinks.

Do you pay for food at a tailgate party

If the tailgate party is larger and more open-invitation, with many people attending, it is common for guests to bring their food and drinks to share. This is because the party is like a potluck, where everyone brings something to contribute. 

In this case, guests are not expected to pay for their own food and drinks, but they are expected to bring something to share.

If the host has gone to great lengths to prepare and provide a large amount of food and drinks, it is customary for guests to contribute to the costs. This can be done through a voluntary contribution, where guests are asked to pay a certain amount to help cover the costs. 

Alternatively, the host can charge a small fee per person to cover the costs of the food and drinks. In either case, the host should clarify the expectations of paying for food and beverages to the guests beforehand.

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What Is Needed For A Tailgate Party? 

For a tailgate party to succeed, there are a few requirements so guests can have a good time. This includes parking close to the stadium or venue, food, drinks, gas, propane, a grille, canopies, and plenty of seating. 


Parking is unavoidable for many people attending the games unless the stadium is located in a city with easy access to public transportation. But a vehicle and parking are required for a tailgate party. 

Prices for parking at events vary widely depending on the sporting event. Many professional games charge between $40-$75 for parking, especially in busier cities or for popular teams like the New England Patriots. 

Food & Drinks

People typically bring their own food to the tailgate party unless it’s a professional event with entry fees. A tailgate party is not complete without food and drinks.

 It is best to have some kind of food that is easy to prepare and doesn’t require much preparation. Some tailgates will have hot dogs, hamburgers, or other quick foods that can be grilled or cooked on a stovetop. Others will opt for more elaborate dishes like lasagna or pulled pork sandwiches.

To host a tailgate party, expect to spend around $100-$150 on food and drinks. Many tailgate parties invite guests to bring food with them, too, rather than paying money.  

tailgate party 1

Gas, Propane, & A Grille

Anybody throwing a tailgate party needs to ensure they have the necessary supplies to get it done. This includes gas, propane, and a grille to cook on.

This is the best way to keep making fresh food during the party, and it can cook many of the favorites like hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken, steak, etc. Expect to spend $15-$50 for gas or propane if needed. 

Canopies & Seating

In order to host a successful tailgate party, we also need canopies, tents, and seating. This is required to give people a place to sit and eat while protecting guests from the weather or excessive sunlight exposure. 

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Is Everybody Allowed To Go To A Tailgate Party? 

A tailgate party is a social gathering before a major sporting event. It usually takes place outside the sporting event venue and often features food, music, games, and other forms of entertainment.

Everybody attending the event can legally host or go to a tailgate party. Some parties may be private and not open to guests, but it’s perfectly legal to set up a party in the parking lot. 

They can be thrown anywhere, but they typically happen in parking lots before football games, especially for NFL and college football games.

Is A Tailgate Party Worth Attending?

Yes, tailgating is worth attending because it provides an excellent opportunity to meet new people and enjoy some of our favorite dishes before the game starts. 

It also offers a chance to make new friends with other fans who like to tailgate as much as we do. They create a sense of community while building excitement and tension for the big game. 

We recommend tailgate parties because they are part of the tradition too. For many people, it’s a weekly activity every Saturday or Sunday to enjoy with their friends and family during football season. 

People can get to the games early and enjoy the atmosphere while putting their fandom on display. 

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Key Takeaways

  • Yes, people need to pay for food at a tailgate party in most cases. The only exception is when a friend invites you and doesn’t ask you to bring anything. 
  • Professional tailgate party events will cost between $25-$50 to enter, and they provide guests with unlimited food and drink for a small entry fee. 
  • Everybody is allowed to tailgate in the parking lots at major sporting events like NFL or college football games.