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People Standing Around Rooting for a Team at a Tailgate

22 Tips for Hosting the Ultimate Tailgate Party

Hosting a tailgate party? From the socializing to the food, tailgating is a great way to cheer on your favorite teams. Whether you’re celebrating outside a stadium or homegating, here are 22 helpful party hosting tips to bring to your next tailgate!

Choose Your Tailgating Vehicle

Kansas City Chiefs Fan Tailgating Bus. Photo By Instagram user @kingdomwagon

Photo via @kingdomwagon

There are quite a few options for tailgating vehicles, but it ultimately depends on the tailgate experience you’re going for. Different types of RVs and pick-up trucks are common when it comes to tailgating because they provide a good amount of storage space and can support large groups. Want a more unique tailgating experience? Consider converting an ambulance or school bus into the ultimate game day hangout!

Secure Your Parking Spot

Car for a Tailgate Parked in a Parking Lot. Photo by Instagram user @teresa_

Photo via @teresa_

One of the first things you’ll want to do when planning a tailgate is figure out where to park. Many stadiums have designated tailgating areas where you can reserve a spot for the season. Depending on where you are, you may be required to pay for a space ahead of time. If you’ll be heading somewhere that’s first come, first serve, it’s a good idea to go early to secure a spot. Also, if you have a larger tailgating vehicle and want to make sure there’s room for all your guests, you may need to reserve two tailgating spots instead of one.

Get a Head Count

Large NY Giants Tailgate. Photo by Instagram user @gerrysplacenj

Photo via @gerrysplacenj

When planning a tailgate, it’s good to have a general idea of how many people will be there. That way, you can delegate who’s bringing what, as well as make sure there’s enough seating, food, and drinks for everyone. It also doesn’t hurt to plan for a few extra people, just in case!

Prepare for Weather Changes

Jaguar Fans Cheering. Photo by Instagram user @904happyhour

Photo via @904happyhour

One thing you may want to prepare for during your tailgate is changing weather. You can’t always predict when the temperature is going to rise or drop, or if it’s going to start raining or snowing. Prepare yourself for all types of weather by having blankets, ponchos, umbrellas, sunscreen, hats, and more on hand!

Put Up a Tent

Not only can a canopy tent help define your tailgate area, but it can also protect your guests and food from the elements. Tailgating comes with some unpredictable weather, but having a tent helps provide shade from the hot sun and protection from rain and wind. If you want to show off your team spirit, consider buying a tent with your favorite team’s logo on it. Most pop-up tents are about 10×10, so keep that in mind as you’re planning out your tailgate setup!

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Give Guests Somewhere to Sit

People Sitting in Chairs at a Tailgate. Photo by Instagram user @memphisalumni

Photo via @memphisalumni

Providing seating for your guests is one way to ensure that everyone will be comfortable at your tailgate party. It’s also much easier to eat and enjoy food if there’s somewhere to sit down. Lawn chairs and folding chairs are easy to transport, making them ideal for tailgates. If you feel like you’ll need more space, you can bring different types of seating like a portable bench, too! Just be sure to pack a few extras chairs if more people show up than you were expecting.

Set Up Tables

You’ll want to be sure to bring a few folding tables to your tailgate. That way, you have somewhere to prepare food, put out your potluck, set out drinks, and more. If you feel like getting creative, you can make a tailgate-themed centerpiece and set it on a table, too!

Hook Up a TV

If you plan on watching the big game from your tailgate spot, it’s a good idea to hook up a TV. Just make sure that your TV can fit in your vehicle and that you have some sort of power source and signal so you don’t miss a single play during the game. To free up some table space at your party, you can also try a tailgate TV mount!

Pack a Portable Speaker

What’s a tailgate party without a little bit of music? Setting up a portable Bluetooth speaker can help set the mood of your tailgate and keep your friends and family entertained. Think about making a playlist ahead of time complete with your favorite team’s fight song, game day classics, and more. Or you can opt for an outdoor radio so everyone can listen to the game while still being able to eat and chat.

Show Off Your Team Spirit

Whether you’re cheering on your favorite pro sports team or watching some college football, show your team spirit by decorating your tailgate vehicle and space. You can use the team colors as your color scheme and use items like flags, DIY garland, balloons, and letter boards to make the place festive! Be sure to have some fun dressing up, too, by sporting your team’s jersey or putting on some face paint.

Play Tailgate Games

People Playing Cornhole Outside of a Football Stadium. Photo by Instagram user @frogyardgames

Photo via @frogyardgames

A good tailgating idea is to provide guests with outdoor games to play! This gives your tailgate guests something to do before the game and during halftime. Think about how much space you have at your tailgating spot so you know what kind of activities you’ll have room for. Popular tailgate games include cornhole, horseshoes, and giant Jenga. Even having a few footballs to toss around is good to keep guests busy!

Bring Disposable Plates & Silverware

Using disposable plates and plastic cutlery at your tailgate can help make cleanup a breeze. Grab some paper plates, plastic food trays, and plastic utensils. Try organizing all your cutlery in mason jars or using sports-themed plates. Another thing you’ll want to bring are paper towels and napkins so people can clean up after themselves.

Load Up Tools, Utensils, & Other Supplies

Get ready for your tailgate party by packing and loading up all of the supplies you’ll need. This includes grilling tools like a brush, tongs, and spatula, as well as heat-proof gloves, cutting knives, a bottle opener, aluminum foil, and trash bags. It’s a good idea to get everything together the night before, so you’re not scrambling to find everything on game day.

Get the Grill Ready

People Standing Around a Grill. Photo by Instagram user @lupientauto

Photo via @lupientauto

Grills are one of the easiest ways to cook tailgate food. However, your home grill may be too big for you to transport to your tailgate spot. Instead, consider buying a smaller portable grill that can sit on a table or the bed of your truck. You’ll also want to check if your grill runs on electricity, propane, or charcoal so you can prepare everything you need. After the game’s over, make sure to properly clean and store your grill.

Prepare Food Ahead of Time

To cut down on cooking time, you may want to prepare some food ahead of time and bring it to the tailgate with you. Consider making some side dishes like potato salad the night before and cutting up any fruits, meat, and cheese. Snacks like trail mix are also super easy to prep and require minimal effort! Doing these steps before the actual game will allow you to actually enjoy your tailgate instead of cooking the whole time!

Focus on Finger Food

Pulled Pork in Baked Potatoes. Photo by Instagram user @sbrbbq

Photo via @sbrbbq

Finger foods are a tailgate party winner because they’re easy to grab, don’t require utensils, and can help minimize the amount of cleanup you have. Chicken wings, burgers, and brats are tailgating classics, and there are tons of options for great tailgate appetizers like jalapeno poppers, pinwheel roll-ups, and loaded potato skins. Or if you want to do something extravagant, you can make a big football-themed grazing board!

Pick Out Some BBQ Staples…

Go for foods like pork sandwiches and ribs, or test your grilling skills with some chili cheese dogs or grilled quesadillas. Tailgating in the winter? Try making some food in bulk like chili and other hearty soups. Having a variety of options is a good way to make sure everyone at the tailgate has something they can enjoy.

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…Or Get the Food Catered

Chick Fil A Catered Food in a Car. Photo by Instagram user @cfacorinth

Photo via @cfacorinth

Don’t feel like cooking, but still want to feed your guests some tasty food? Have your tailgate party catered! This gives you endless cuisine options to choose from, and everything will come packed and prepped, making it less of a hassle for you. Cleanup is also much easier, as most catered food comes in disposable trays.

Make a Spot for Condiments

Hot Dogs Set out on a Table. Photo by Instagram user @ipsfoodnbev

Photo via @ipsfoodnbev

Condiments can get messy quickly. However, you can minimize the mess by organizing your ketchup, mustard, BBQ sauce, and other condiments in a convenient caddy or tray. This can help keep everything in a designated spot, making it easy to refill. Plus, when it’s time to pack and tidy up, you can just grab it and go. You can also consider placing smaller bowls with toppings like shredded cheese, pickles, and guacamole near condiments.

Bring a Themed Dessert

Don’t forget to give guests something sweet to eat at your tailgate! Think about treats that are easy for people to grab like cupcakes, cookies, and cake pops. Or if you want to keep the sports theme going, you can make football-shaped rice cereal treats or brownies! If you have an open flame available, you could even make s’mores, which are always a crowd favorite.

Stock the Cooler

Along with having food at your tailgate, you’ll want to make sure there are some drinks available for everyone, too. Bring a cooler or two stocked with a variety of beverages like soda, water bottles, and beer. Just make sure you bring enough ice to keep everything nice and cold!

Set Up a Mini Cocktail Bar

Bloody Mary Bar Set Up on a Table. Photo by Instagram user @chifoodiebecs

Photo via @chifoodiebecs

Instead of having a full bar, choose one specialty tailgate drink and make a mini bar! That way, you only have to bring ingredients for the drink of choice and everyone can make their own. Some ideas for tailgate cocktails include bloody marys, mimosas, and margaritas.


Need somewhere to store tailgate equipment and supplies during the off-season? Extra Space Storage has storage facilities located across the country for you to store your belongings! Find storage units near you.

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