Tailgating is a truly American tradition. More than half the fun of a college football game comes from the tailgating party held before and after the game, so making your tailgating party the best around will go a long way towards making the game day great.
But what exactly are you supposed to bring? Below are some ideas that will hopefully make it easy to be well-stocked and well-prepared to throw your first (or best) tailgate party!
1. A Cooler Stocked with Drinks
The bigger the cooler, the better. After all, the drinks and snacks are one of the most essential parts of any tailgate party. Make sure to not only bring a vast array of drinks to suit different tastes but also to bring lots of ice. Tailgate parties typically last for hours, and nobody likes lukewarm drinks.
The best ratio is 2:1: That is, the ice you bring should be double the volume of the drinks you’ve got. Keeping your cooler in the shade and packing it full will also help to keep it cooler for longer.
2. A Grill
A tailgate is hardly a tailgate without some sort of food. Consequently, a grill is one of if not the most important things to bring to a tailgate party. Hotdogs, hamburgers, brats, and wings are all frequent staples at tailgate parties.
You may also consider making food that is custom to your state or region in order to up your cuisine game. Some people even cook seafood in some regions! Whatever you do choose to make, a charcoal or gas grill and the skills to use it well are very important tailgate items.
An abundance of good food will make your friends want to come tailgate with you every time thereafter.
Some great options for game-day food include:
- Philly Cheesesteaks
- Sloppy Joes
- Grilled Chicken
- Fish fry
Suggested Read: Do You Pay For Food At A Tailgate Party?
3. Tons of Snacks
While the entrees of various red meats and wings are great, you’re also going to want to bring a lot of great snacks. In this category, your choices really are endless. Some popular tailgating snacks and desserts are:
- Cheese, crackers, and spreads
- Pretzels and dip
- Jalapeno poppers
- Pigs in a blanket
- Five-layer dip
- Chips (potato chips and more)
- Cookies/cookie cake
- Carrots and celery (to accompany wings)
- Candy (Twizzlers, M&Ms, and more!)
- Ice Cream and Popsicles
4. A Table
This one is pretty straightforward. You’re gonna need a lot of tabletop space to place all the snacks, desserts, and entrees you’ve brought! Some folding tables are both very cheap and convenient.
5. Camp Chairs
Tailgate parties can last hours and hours. Camp chairs are a great portable option for seating during the course of your party. The best ones come with a drink holder! And they usually don’t take up much space in the trunk. Make sure to bring plenty if you’re inviting a lot of people! Nobody wants to be the only person left standing up while everybody else gets to kick back and relax.
6. A TV and Generator
It is very common for tailgate parties to feature one or more TVs. These will typically display other sports events taking place that day, which provide a great conversation point for everybody attending.
Some people have ways to power their TV using their car, while other people may want to bring a generator. Another great option for powering your TV is a solar bank. The larger models can last for hours and hours and be continually replenished with their accompanying solar panels.
The sun is usually a constant presence on gameday parking lots anyways, so may as well put it to good use.
7. A Gaming Console
If you’ve already got a great TV setup, then this will be an easy addition to what you’re already bringing. A gaming console can provide hours and hours of fun, especially if you’ve got enough controllers to let a lot of people play at once. If you and your friends are the gaming type, this can make the difference between a burnout or a blast of a party.
8. A Blanket/Space Heater
If your preferred sports games take place in the evening, it can get pretty cold out there in the parking lot. A blanket will help keep you both warm and comfortable on those more frigid nights. Some even come in the heated variety.
If it really is freezing out but you still want to keep the party going, a portable, outdoor space heater will let you do just that. Just make sure you’ve got a generator to power it if it’s the kind that needs to plug in somewhere.
9. Merch from your Favored Team
While wearing your favorite team’s jersey every single day may get tiresome, there is no excuse not to wear it on game day. Your guests will all likely do the same thing as well.
This makes it fun when the tailgate party finally comes to fruition and you can look around and spot who’s cheering for which team by the colors they are wearing.
And of course, if you want to bring anything else to show off your team spirit (aka. hats, cheese hats, face paint, etc.), the tailgate is the time!
10. Lawn and Party Games
Lawn and party games are a staple at many tailgates. Everybody has a favorite and it’s quite easy to bring a wide variety to keep your guests entertained. Some great lawn and party games to bring to a tailgate include:
- Jenga (or its giant version)
- Connect 4 (or its giant version)
- Chess (or its giant version)
- Cornhole (definitely the most classic and universally popular)
- Ladder toss (simultaneously the most frustrating and satisfying lawn game
- Kubb (Most people haven’t even heard of this one, but it’s incredibly simple and is great fun. It can also be made at home with a wood saw and some pine wood.)
- KanJam (just make sure not to hit anyone else’s car with this one)
- Spikeball (this one has really taken off in recent years)
- Beer Pong (or just pong)
- Card games (there are a million different games that can be played with your standard deck of cards, not to mention hundreds of other options like Uno)
11. Outdoor Lighting
Whether it’s an led lamp or a lantern, some outdoor lighting can make nighttime tailgates a lot more visible. This can be especially if you’re still cooking by the time it gets dark, or if you’re wanting to play card games as the evening rolls on.