10 Tailgating Must-Haves and Top Tips for the Best Tailgating Party

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Are you getting ready to go see your favorite football team play in person? You should show up at their stadium with more than just a ticket to the game.

You should also arrive with all the tailgating must-haves you’ll need to get the party started before the game. You’re going to want to join your fellow football fans outside the stadium for some tailgating prior to kickoff.

What is a Tailgating Party?

A tailgating party is a social event held on and around the open tailgate of a vehicle, typically taking place in the parking lots of stadiums and arenas before sporting events, concerts, or similar gatherings. This American tradition combines food, friends, and fandom, creating a festive atmosphere that precedes the main event. Participants often arrive hours in advance, setting up grills to cook a variety of foods, from burgers and hot dogs to more elaborate fare.

Tailgating Must-Haves

Tailgate party with friends

Check out ten items that should be on your tailgate checklist, as well as some top tips for throwing the best tailgating party.

1. Grill

If you’ve ever been to a professional football game before, you know how much it can cost to purchase something as simple as a hot dog or a burger. Depending on which stadium you’re at, you’re usually looking at paying at least $5 for one.

Skip the concessions stand inside the stadium and grill up your own food during your tailgating party. Bring a grill along with you so that you can cook up hot dogs, hamburgers, and whatever else you want to eat while you tailgate.

2. Coolers

If you plan on cooking food for everyone during your tailgating party, you’ll obviously need to bring something with you to carry it. You should pack at least one cooler filled with food.

You should also pack another cooler filled with drinks for everyone, including both alcoholic and non-alcoholic options. Just make sure you don’t forget ice to keep everything cold!

3. Plates, Cups, Utensils, and Napkins

Once the food that you make during your tailgating party is ready to be served, you’ll need to have plates to serve it on and utensils for people to use while eating it. You’ll also need to have napkins handy to hand out to people as they eat.

Additionally, you’ll need to have cups for people to pour their drinks into if they want. You might also want to buy custom koozies for your tailgating party to keep people’s hands warm while they sip on their ice-cold beverages.

4. Folding Tables

There are a variety of different ways in which you can use folding tables while tailgating.

You can use them to serve up your cooked food. You can also use them to play tailgating games throughout the course of the day (more on these later!).

It never hurts to have at least two or three folding tables that you can use for whatever you need them for. They’re some of the most important tailgating must-haves of all.

5. Chairs

When you head into the stadium to watch your favorite team play, you’re going to spend almost the whole time on your feet cheering. So you should try to get off your feet for a little while as you tailgate.

Set up chairs around your vehicle so that you and those you’re tailgating with can all sit and relax. It’ll give you a chance to rest up before the beginning of the game.

6. Tent

There is a chance that it might rain while you’re tailgating. There is also a chance that the hot sun might beat down on you the entire time.

It’s not a bad idea to put up a tent that you and your fellow tailgaters can hide under if the weather doesn’t cooperate with your tailgating plans. You may want to consider investing in a durable tent that has your favorite team’s logo on it.

7. Radio

One of the downsides of tailgating at a football game is that you miss out on all the pre-game chatter on TV. But you can make sure you don’t miss a thing by bringing a radio along with you and tuning in to the pre-game festivities.

You can also use your radio to listen to music if you want. It’ll help you get the party started from the second you begin tailgating.

8. Generator

Are you going to bring a radio that needs to be plugged into your tailgating party? Or are you going to have other electronic equipment at your party that will require the use of electrical outlets?

You might want to think about throwing a generator in the back of your vehicle. If nothing else, it’ll help everyone at your party keep their cell phones juiced up in the hours leading up to kickoff.

9. Games

Tailgating just wouldn’t be tailgating without all the fun tailgating games that are out there. There is nothing quite like tailgating while you’re playing:

  • Cornhole with a good set of cornhole bags
  • Ladder toss
  • Giant Jenga
  • KanJam
  • Flip cup

You can technically throw a tailgating party without games. But it won’t be as fun as it would be otherwise without them.

10. Trash Bags

When you’re all finished tailgating, make sure you don’t leave a big mess behind. Bring trash bags with you and encourage those at your tailgating party to use them early and often.

Most stadiums will direct you as to where you should throw your trash bags when they’re full. Follow the instructions provided to you and leave the stadium’s parking lot in the same condition it was in when you arrived.

Tips for Throwing a Successful Tailgating Party

Barbecue at a tailgate party

Now that you know the tailgating must-haves you should bring with you to a tailgating party, let’s take a look at a few tips that will put your tailgating party over the top. Here is how you can do it:

  • Arrive at the stadium where you’re going to be tailgating early to ensure you get a great parking spot for your tailgating party
  • Prepare all your food at home so that the only thing you’ll need to worry about doing is taking it out of your cooler and cooking it as you tailgate
  • Avoid drinking too much alcohol during your tailgating party (doing so could prevent you from entering the stadium to see the game later!)
  • Push everyone tailgating with you to dispose of their trash and recyclable items properly.
  • Have fun! That’s what tailgating is truly all about

By using these tailgating tips, you can ensure that your tailgating party is a total success.

Interesting Facts About Tailgating Parties

Tailgating parties are a beloved tradition in the United States, serving as a prelude to various events, from football games to concerts. Here are ten interesting facts about tailgating parties that highlight the uniqueness and depth of this popular pastime:

  1. Originating Sport: While tailgating is now associated with many types of events, it originally started with college football in the United States, dating back to the early 20th century.
  2. First Tailgate: Some historians believe the first tailgating event occurred in 1869 at the first college football game between Rutgers and Princeton, where fans arrived by horse-drawn carriage, grilling sausages at the “tail end” of the horse.
  3. Tailgating Food: The most popular foods at tailgating parties include burgers, hot dogs, barbecue ribs, and grilled chicken. However, many tailgaters have elevated their menus to include gourmet and regional specialties.
  4. Economic Impact: Tailgating is a significant economic driver, with fans spending billions of dollars annually on food, drinks, and tailgating supplies.
  5. RV Tailgating: Some fans take tailgating to the next level by using RVs, creating a home-away-from-home experience complete with satellite TV, beds, and full kitchens.
  6. Tailgate Technology: Modern tailgating has embraced technology, with fans bringing flat-screen TVs, satellite dishes, and even Wi-Fi routers to enhance their pre-game experience.
  7. Longest Tailgate: Dedicated fans sometimes start tailgating up to 24 hours before an event begins, especially for high-stakes games and rivalries.
  8. Tailgating Games: Beyond eating and socializing, tailgating parties often feature games like cornhole, ladder toss, and beer pong, adding a competitive element to the festivities.
  9. Team Spirit: Tailgating is a display of team spirit, with fans wearing team colors, flying flags, and even decorating their vehicles in team paraphernalia.
  10. Charitable Tailgates: Some tailgate parties double as charity events, raising money for various causes through auctions, raffles, and donations, showcasing the community spirit inherent in tailgating culture.

Start Filling Your Car With Your Tailgating Must-Haves Today

Tailgating is all part of the experience when you attend a major sporting event. You should take every opportunity to tailgate when going to watch a game.

Bring the tailgating must-haves mentioned here along with you, and keep the tips we just talked about in mind. It’ll enhance your experience and make you want to go back again to tailgate more in the future.

Additional Suggestions

  • Stadiums would usually sell hotdogs and beer for at least $5. To save money, it would be best to just cook your own food at the tailgating party.
  • You can buy custom koozies for your tailgating party if the drinks you will be serving are too cold.
  • You can also get a good set of cornhole bags to provide comfortable seats or pillows for you and your friends.
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