Tailgate parties have been around for as long as there have been sporting events. A truck tailgate is the central place to congregate as friends and family members celebrate a team or sporting event. These parties are usually accompanied by a generous amount of food and a lot of loud cheering!
How do you throw a tailgate party? A tailgate party has three basic ingredients:
- A sporting event
- Snacks and drinks
- Lots of fun people!
If you want to throw a tailgate party this year, you can keep it as simple or make it as extravagant as you like.
The best way to ensure that people are going to have a good time at your party is to keep the atmosphere relaxed and to keep the beer flowing!
Traditional tailgate parties call for alcohol too, but if you are shooting for a family-friendly event, of course you can adapt. Consider the people you will be inviting and plan the party around what they and you will enjoy best. There is no set in stone recipe for the perfect tailgate party, it is all about having fun and making it what you want.
These types of events range drastically in the way they play out. Who will be there is the biggest component of how the party will go. Are your friends hard-core sports fanatics, or are they passive fans? There is no reason you cannot have tons of fun in either instance. A tailgate party is about the whole experience, not just the event.
Check out this portable grill, perfect for tailgating!
How To Plan a Tailgate Party
There are a few easy and logical steps you will need to take when planning a tailgate party. You need to ask yourself a few questions about how you plan for your party to play out. Think carefully about all you want your tailgate party to be remembered for.
Here are some questions you should ask yourself:
- Who do I want to invite?
- Where will the party take place?
- What kinds of refreshments do I want to be there?
- Who will be assigned to bring what?
- How long will the event last?
- What sporting event will my tailgate party celebrate?
First of all, think through the people you want to be at your tailgate party. Go ahead and make calls or send out invitations. Choose people who will help make the party fun and lively.
Do not invite people who will be poor sports or who will ruin the event with unnecessary negativity. Do not feel obligated to invite people who will bring you and the other guests down.
Will the party be in the parking lot at a stadium? Will you be just outside the action, or will you be father away, listening to the sporting event on the radio? If you do plan on partying outside a stadium, make sure you have a place to park.
It might be beneficial to go ahead and reserve parking for yourself and encourage your guests to do the same, so that you can all park close together.
Make a list of the refreshments you want to have. A tailgate party is nothing without great snacks! Choose simple recipes and things that can easily be transported in a cooler without spoiling or falling apart.
It may be simplest to use pre-made snacks from the deli, bakery, or grocery store. Be sure you have bought these items ahead of time, before they sell out.
If you plan for many people to be at your party, they are probably all going to volunteer to bring something. Go ahead and let them help out. If they offer to bring a specialty of their own, write it down.
Assign staples such as drinks and chips. Do not overwork yourself. A tailgate party is supposed to be a group event, so let the group assist in planning for it.
You may want to consider how long the party will last. Will it start before the sporting event and go until the very end or even after? Will it wrap up early?
This is something you want your guests to be prepared for, especially if they are bringing children or securing the services of a babysitter. They need to have the courtesy of being able to get all of their ducks in a row.
What type of sport will you be taking part in, and what event will you be celebrating? You may want to include decorations in your festivities, so planning ahead of time can be beneficial.
Also, you will want to be able to give your guests the dates and details as early as possible, so go ahead an plan for what event you will be tailgating at.
What Should I Bring To a Tailgate?
There are several things you will need to have a proper tailgate celebration. Like the Boy Scouts, you want to be prepared when it comes to your tailgating experience.
Here are a few tailgating staples:
- Tailgating chairs (link to Amazon)
- Games (link to Amazon for our recommendation, cornhole!)
- Radio or speakers (checkout this article on portable speakers)
- Beer! (our recommendations for coolers below)
First of all, remember to pack your lawn chairs or some sort of cushions. Tailgate parties are usually drawn out events, and you will want a place to sit down.
Your tailgate itself will probably be covered in snack and other things, so the chairs are a must! You should even bring extra in case someone else forgets. You want everyone to be happy and to be able to enjoy the tailgate party!
Lawn games are a great idea for the tailgate party, especially if children will be there. Games like Lawn Jenga, Corn Hole, and Yard Tic Tac Toe are staples.
These will keep the little ones busy while the adults enjoy each other’s company and their adult beverages. Grown-ups can even enjoy these games as well. While you are waiting for the main event to start, these are a good means of entertainment.
If you are going to be in an open environment, and not in a parking lot, you may want to bring some balls along as well. Especially if kids will be at the event, this will give them something to do and keep them active.
Plus, if you are cheering on a ball game, what better way to celebrate than tossing your own ball around? This keeps the environment light and fun.
It goes without saying that you should bring food to the tailgate party. As stated, let your friends help out. When many families are participating together, it is easy to come up with a lot of yummy dishes for the event.
You may just want to have snacks, or you may want to share a full meal together. Whatever your plan is, go down your grocery list and make sure you are adequately prepared.
You want to be able to hear the big game loud and clear. If you are using your truck’s radio, be sure that you have speakers loud enough that your whole group will be able to hear.
If you do not have proper speakers, maybe you should bring a boom box and hook it into your truck with an inverter or usb. Nothing makes a tailgate party worse than not being able to hear the game.
Of course, you will want adult beverages at your tailgate party. Beer is the typical drink of choice, but you can go with whatever your group best enjoys, whether it be beer, wine, mixed drinks, or just soda.
Steel Campfire’s List for the Top 3 Tailgate Coolers:
You may want to have everyone bring their own alcoholic beverages, as it could get expensive if you planned to provide alcohol to all of your adult guests.
If there is going to be drinking at your party, be sure a designated driver has already been selected and that he or she is provided with as much soda or coffee as they like.
You do not want your wonderful night of partying ending on a tragic note, so never drink and drive. It’s true what they say: “Friends don’t let friends drink and drive.”
How Do You Tailgate In The Cold?
When the winter months roll around, contrary to what you might think, there are actually many options for tailgating in the cold.
Here are some ways to make tailgating in the cold better:
- Warm beverages
- Added layers of clothing
- Staying active
Depending on where you are having your tailgate party, you could have the option of building a bonfire. Of course, you cannot do this in a stadium parking lot, but you can if you are partying in a field or on someone’s private land.
A fire rings is another option and can be used in campgrounds. If you cannot build a fire, take turns sitting in the truck to warm up.
Offering warm apple cider or hot chocolate is a great idea for a cold tailgate party. These will warm up your guests from the inside out. There are several canisters that will keep liquids warm for a very long time.
Of course, you could also pick up coffee on your way and sip it through the evening as well. Hot food is another great idea for warming up.
Seriously, bundle up. Layer your clothing and the clothing of any children you are responsible for. You can always take layers off if you begin to get too warm. Pile on sweaters and jackets, and cover everything with a large coat. Be sure to bring a winter hat and scarf.
Huddle up with those closest to you and use your body heat to keep warm as you enjoy the tailgate party!
Moving around is a great way to keep warm. Bring a football to toss or a soccer ball to play with. The more you keep moving, the warmer you will be. If you stand still, you are bound to get cold faster, so be active!
There is not a better way to stay warm at a tailgating event than cuddling with your special someone, so be sure you bring them along.
Scoot up side by side on the tailgate or in your lawn chairs, and settle in for the long haul, keeping each other warm and enjoying one of your favorite sports. It’s okay to be romantic, even at sporting events.
What Are The Best Foods For A Tailgate?
The best food for a tailgate party is in line with the type of food you would buy for any party. You can make the menu as easy or complex as you like. Remember though, keeping it simple will free up more time for you to engage with your friends and enjoy yourself.
Here are some traditional tailgate foods:
- Chips and dip
- Cookies and baked goods
Check out this article on our site for delicious burger recipes!
You can bring crock pots and other apparatuses for keeping food warm if necessary. Of course, you can have any type of food you like at your tailgate party, but snack foods and grilled foods are the most popular traditionally.
Tailgate parties tend to give people the munchies, so whatever you bring, make sure you bring plenty of it! Long nights in the parking lot or in an open field make people hungry.
Also, if you are having sandwiches, burgers, or hotdogs of any kind, don’t forget your condiments and toppings like cheese, ketchup, mayonnaise, and mustard. Nobody wants a bland burger at a tailgating events.
Be sure to keep these items in the cooler on ice until you are ready to use them. You do not want any spoiled food at your tailgate party.
What Can I Grill On A Tailgate?
When it comes to grilling on a tailgate, the sky is the limit. What you can grill will mostly depend on the type of grill you bring, though. If you have a small charcoal grill you plan to sit on the tailgate, you may want to stick to hamburgers and hotdogs.
If you have a larger, portable grill, you can cook anything that you would normally grill at home. There is no reason you cannot put on an impressive spread for your party guests.
Here are some alternative tailgate foods to hamburgers and hotdogs:
- Bacon-wrapped jalapenos
- Italian sausage
- Pork chops
It is your tailgate party, so make it as simple or complex as you like. Be sure to pack all meats in a cooler with ice until it is time to cook them. It is a good idea to use a separate cooler for your meet than you do for your beverages and snacks.
You do not want to accidentally cross-contaminate. Also, bring any sauces or dips that you may want with your entrée or side items.
The point of a tailgate party is to have fun, enjoy a sporting event, and support your favorite team. It is not always possible to get tickets to an event, and you also may save a lot of money by tailgating.
You can be close to the action, but still have the freedom to do as you please and not be stuck in a tiny stadium seat. Having the freedom to get up and move about make the event more fun.
Tailgate events are especially fun for families, because the kids can move around and play. This makes the event more fun and less stressful for the parents as well. Whether you are planning a kid-friendly event or an adults-only event, you can take your tailgating experience in any direction you would like to.
The main purpose is spending time around people whose company you enjoy.
Don’t forget the most important part, though! Root for your team! Wear your fan gear and bring you fan decorations. It is even easy to find bakeries to make cupcakes with mascots on top of them. It is suggested that you go all out for the best experience. Make your tailgate party a night to remember. Hopefully your team wins, too!
At the end of the night, make sure everyone knows to plan on helping clean up. Nothing ruins your night quite like standing in the middle of a parking lot with a trash bag alone.
If you have a good group of friend, then everyone should naturally pitch in and want to help. Remember to leave the place you have partied as clean as you found it so that others can enjoy the experience later.
It may be helpful to begin cleaning up earlier in the night, as the festivities are dying down. This way, you do not have to do all the work when you are tired and ready to go home. Have a close friend or two who know you are relying on them to help you out.
Begin to pack away extra items in the truck and place the food back in the cooler or carriers.
End your night on a good note by settling back in next to your loved ones with the clean-up already behind you! Your party guests will feel honored to have had such a wonderful host. This will be an event you want to repeat again and again.