In the South, where college football rules all, your tailgate game can make or break your reputation as a die-hard fan. (No amount of face paint can make up for cold food and warm beer.) Stop by any SEC tailgating scene and you’re sure to find plenty of fans decked out in collegiate apparel, preparing fall-off-the-bone meats on their state-of-the-art grills while watching pre-game commentary on high-definition television screens.
Of course, it’s not just the fancy pre-game setups that manage to steal the show at college tailgates. In fact, we’d argue that the most impressive tailgate setup ideas are a result of pure creativity rather than deep pockets.
Ready to level up your tailgate? Check out these ingenious tailgate setup ideas that will totally revolutionize the way you pre-game.
Hang a Closet Organizer from Your Canopy
Figuring out what to bring to a tailgate party is the easy part. Knowing how you’re going to keep everything organized is the real challenge of tailgating.
Fortunately, there’s a clever trick to keeping all your tailgate essentials neat and tidy. Simply hang a closet organizer on your tent canopy and use the pockets to easily store game day essentials such as napkins, utensils, grilling tools—the whole nine yards (pun intended).
In addition to saving you valuable surface space, this setup will also keep you from losing napkins or other flyaway items in the wind. We’re going to go ahead and call that a win for the home team.
Freeze Water Bottles and Put Them in the Cooler
Make your water bottles perform double duty by freezing them before sticking them in your cooler. Not only will they keep your uncooked meats cold, you’ll also have a nice, cold drink to enjoy once they thaw.
Want to keep your beverage cool once it’s out of the cooler? Pour it into a Yeti 20 oz. tumbler and never settle for a lukewarm drink again.
Store Dirty Dishes in a Lidded Bin
If you’re cooking up a feast fit for the tailgating gods themselves, you’ve probably learned to ditch flimsy, disposable plates a long time ago. The only problem with reusable plates is the cleanup you need to do immediately after eating.
To keep your dishes from stinking and attracting bugs, stash them in a plastic bin with a lid. Seal the lid tight and you can worry about those dishes after your team has officially taken home the “W.”
Line a Pop-Up Hamper with a Trash Bag
If you’ve ever hung your trash bag off the side of your game day table and thought, there has to be a better way, then you’re totally right. All you need to do is buy a pop-up hamper from a dollar store, line it with a trash bag and voila! You now have a much more efficient trash can. Bonus points if you set out one for recycling to green up your tailgate.
Use a Fitted Sheet as a Tablecloth
Anyone who has scrambled after their tablecloth after a gust of wind will appreciate this tailgate hack. Rather than use a traditional tablecloth that will fly away at the slightest hint of wind, take an inexpensive bed sheet and fit it around the table. If you want to get super creative, purchase a white fitted sheet and tie-dye it in your team’s colors.
Additional Tailgate Tips and Tricks
Now that you have some tailgate setup ideas buzzing around in your head, it’s time to take things up a notch. Here are a few additional tips to take your tailgating experience to the next level:
- Use a cupcake pan to hold plastic cups, create tasty cocktails and serve them to friends.
- Tired of searching for your shades? Get a sunglass strap and never lose your favorite pair again.
- Not sure what to wear for game day? Bring a cozy pullover in your team’s color in case it gets chilly.
- Rather than buying several bottle openers, just buy one and tie it to your Yeti cooler so no one runs off with it.
- Make friends with fellow tailgaters. They’ll have your back (and you, theirs) if you forget the mayo or can’t start your grill.
- Don’t forget to bring a few tailgate games! Cornhole, Horseshoes and other easy-going games are the perfect way to kick-off the fun.
- Aluminum foil is your best friend.
- Slice and pack burger toppings the night before to reduce mess on game day.
- Bring extra trash bags. They can be used as ponchos in case it rains.
Revolutionizing Your Tailgate Experience
It should come as no surprise that America has been tailgating in some form or another for hundreds of years. In that time, we’ve gotten pretty good at perfecting our pre-game strategies and coming up with creative ways to improve the tailgate experience.
From grill storage hacks that maximize surface space to clever tricks for keeping drinks cold all day long, these tailgate setup ideas are worth trying for your own tailgate. Go ahead, give them a try! Just don’t be surprised when you start attracting fans of your own.