There is no better way to usher in the fall season than by taking part in the beloved tradition of tailgating. Between the endless chip dips and spreads of food, the coolers full of ice-cold beer, and good-natured trash talk between fierce rivalries, tailgate parties are arguably one of the best parts of football season.
An actual Tailgate is much different than your typical game day house party. The grilling, drinking, and tailgate games go on all day long, which is why it’s crucial that you’re prepped and ready for this endurance event before arriving at the stadium parking lot.
If you have no idea what to bring to a tailgate, don’t sweat it. Below, you’ll find all the essentials you need to maximize your game day experience.
Let’s start with an easy one: The drinks. Sports and booze go together like Wings and Ranch dressing. From impressive cocktails in Mason jars to homemade hard cider, your drink options for game day are only as limited as your creativity.
Not sure which drinks to bring? Here are some must-have beverages and accessories for any tailgate:
- Beer, duh: We suggest stocking your cooler with both a session IPA and a lighter option. And bring more than you think you need, trust us. Also, we recommend cans over bottles- less chance of having to deal with broken glass.
- Wine: Because Wine Not? Rosé can be a refreshing option for warm weather games.
- Liquor: To make packing easier, consider offering one cocktail option depending on the time of the tailgate. You might offer vodka screwdrivers for a morning tailgate or bourbon Old Fashioneds for a night game. Pro tip: make the drinks ahead of time and put the mixture in a large pitcher. This will help save time and space.
- Non-Alcoholic Beverages: Water, tea, soda, etc. For an easy win, offer several flavors of La Croix and watch the fans go wild. It can double as a mixer too.
- Bottle Opener and/or Corkscrew: We’re partial to our Smathers & Branson embroidered bottle opener, which can make opening even the skunkiest of Natty Lights look positively classy.
- Can Coolers: May we suggest providing your guests with some Can Caddies in your team’s colors? Look at you, you thought of everything! If you want to ensure your beverage is icy cold all tailgate long, consider bringing along a Yeti 20 oz. tumbler. If the 20 oz. size isn’t big enough for you, upgrade to the Yeti 30 oz. and keep your thirst quenched from kick-off to the last down.
Game Day Grill Essentials
Let’s face it, some of us will tailgate purely for the food. And who wouldn’t when you have scrumptious, smoked pork shoulder sandwiches, bacon-pimento cheese dip and chicken andouille sausage gumbo enticing you at every game?
No matter which savory foods you’re cooking up, make sure that you pack them in your cooler to keep them at the right temperature and that you bring a table along to set-up the spread at your tailgate. Oh, and remember to bring lots of napkins to wipe that barbecue sauce off your face, ya filthy animal.
While you’re at it, don’t forget these game day grill essentials:
Gas Hose/Lighter Fluid
Utensils & Plater
The trucks in the stadium parking lot will likely be occupied by coolers, speakers, TVs and food, leaving you with little to no seating. Standing around for hours is exhausting, so be sure to bring the following items:
Folding Tables and Chairs
While we’re on the topic of comfort, you’ll also want to bring mosquito repellent and sunscreen. Because going home with bug bites and a painful sunburn isn’t anyone's definition of a good time.
Stylish Team Spirit
You can’t show up to a tailgate without repping your team! Well, you can, but everyone will want to know why you left your collegiate tailgate apparel at home. After all, you’re supposed to be dressed for a football game, right?
The key to dressing for a tailgate is to balance comfort with style. With that in mind, here are some must-have tailgate apparel options and accessories to wear on game day:
If you’re wondering what game to bring to a tailgate, the answer is Cornhole. It’s always Cornhole.
In all seriousness, tailgate games are an essential component to any game day party. Whether you’re tossing the ol’ pigskin around or throwing bean bags on a wooden board, the best tailgate games will give partygoers the chance to engage in an activity and do something other than simply sit around, drink and eat. (Although, sitting around drinking and eating sounds pretty great, too.) So, Cornhole—check. To liven up the party even more, here are a few additional games to bring to a tailgate:
Giant Connect 4
A Winning Tailgate Strategy
Whether you’re tailgating for the amazing food, impressive cocktails, to mentally prepare for the game or all three, you simply can’t go wrong with these game day essentials. With delicious food, the perfect tailgate setup and a whole lot of team spirit, you can make your next tailgate one for the books.
And for the love of all things college football, don’t forget your ticket!