| Car Life
cartoon fans tailgating outside of their team's stadium

Fall is almost here, and that means football season is back! And while the games are always exciting, so are the parties before kickoff. That’s right; we’re talking about tailgating! If you’ve ever wondered how to tailgate like a pro but didn’t know where to begin, we’ve got you covered. These seven tailgating tips will help you throw one of the greatest game-day parties around the stadium.

Do your research.

All schools and stadiums are different, so it’s not surprising they all have different rules for tailgating. Before you make a concrete plan and send out invites, do some research to learn what is and isn’t allowed and get answers to essential questions, like:

  • What time can you set up?
  • What size grills are permitted?
  • Is it first-come, first-served, or do you need a permit for a spot?
  • How large of a tent can you bring?

Make a plan.

Based on what you learn, come up with a comprehensive plan for your tailgate. Pick your parking spot and set a start time. Plan a food and drink menu and send out invites to figure out roughly how many people will be stopping by. Once you have a rough number, you’ll know how much to buy at the store, how much propane you might need, the amount of seating required, and more.

Pro TipCreate a checklist of everything you need to make sure nothing slips your mind. The individual items on your list will ultimately depend on your tailgate, but consider breaking them down into categories like:

  • Tailgate set up (tents, seating, generators, TVs, etc.)
  • Grill essentials (grills, propane/charcoal, lighters, etc.)
  • Food & drink (meats, sides, condiments, etc.)
  • Games (cornhole, footballs, frisbees, etc.)
  • Miscellaneous (Blankets, ponchos, first aid kits, etc.)

Your plan should also include a way to make your tailgate stand out. With thousands of people tailgating around you and potentially poor cell phone coverage, a distinct flag or tent should help your friends find you. Finally, it would be best if you have an exit strategy. You want to be able to clean up and pack up well before kickoff, giving yourself enough time to get home or get to the stadium before the game starts. If you’re planning to head home before kickoff, researching road closures will be vital so you can make it back in time.

Go shopping early & buy extras.

You want to ensure you can get everything you need for your food and drink menu, so get to the store early. You’re not the only person planning to tailgate, and you don’t want other people to buy up all the ground beef, briskets, or chicken wings before you have a chance to shop.

Hopefully, you have a rough headcount of attendees, but it’s always a good idea to buy extra everything. You don’t want to run out of any supplies halfway through your tailgate in a crowded campus or parking lot.

Prep what you can ahead of time.

Unless you have an elaborate setup or tailgate out of an RV, you’ll save yourself time and stress by prepping as much as you can ahead of game day. If you’re grilling burgers, go ahead and form the patties. If you’re serving skewers, assemble them the night before. Go ahead and mix punches or make lemonade and transport them in a cooler. That way, when you arrive at the tailgate, you’ll have more time to enjoy the day and spend less time worrying about tasks you need to accomplish.

Get out there early.

If you’re tailgating somewhere that allows people to set up on a first-come, first-served basis, you should arrive early to stake claim to your spot. Even if you have a permit for your specific site, setting up as soon as you can means more time to eat, drink, and get in the spirit of game day.

Be conservative with your supplies.

When you’re going to be tailgating all day, it’s important to pace yourself with supplies. You don’t want to waste fuel for your grill. You don’t want to use multiple cups if you can avoid it. Being conservative with the items you’ve purchased means you’re less likely to run out of something, and you might be able to save some things for future tailgates.

Stay hydrated.

Large parts of the country stay warm throughout the football season, and even in cooler parts of the country, it’s important to stay hydrated. It’s easy to get caught up in the fun of a football weekend, but please try to drink water regularly.

Try these other tailgating hacks & tips

While those general tips should help you host a successful tailgate, we’ve got some specific hacks to help you take your tailgate to the next level. Here are some helpful things to try out on game day:

  • Freeze water bottles. Use them as ice in your cooler. When they melt, drink them to stay hydrated.
  • Stick to finger foods. People want to walk around, converse, and enjoy the party. Don’t make a bunch of food items that will force people to sit down and use a fork and knife.
  • Bring bungee cords. Use them to hold paper towels, utensils, or other items as you see fit.
  • Bring hand sanitizer or set up a makeshift handwashing station using a water cooler or old laundry detergent container.
  • Label cups. Bring a sharpie and write people’s names on their cups. This will help people keep track of their drinks in a crowded tailgate.

Before you drive your vehicle into such a crowded space, have you considered if you have the right auto insurance coverage? We don’t want you to stress about the potential for a minor fender bender, so give Direct Auto a call or come by one of our neighborhood locations. We want you to have peace of mind so you can focus on food, drinks, and football!