Football schedules are in full swing and tailgate season is upon us. Those already familiar with this warm and buzzy parking lot social phenomenon can attest to its many wonders. Endless tables of tailgate food and coolers jam-packed with icy-cold beverages greet friends old and new while rugged outdoor speakers blast tunes at decibels designed to get the blood pumping. Tailgate games bring together friends and foes of the home team, battling it out for bragging rights or perhaps a little more beverage. Depending on your personal flavor of fandom, you can easily join up with an existing crowd or really pull out all the stops with your own sweet tailgate setup. Here are some tailgating tips to make the most of your home team’s eight guaranteed home games per year.

What to Bring to a Tailgate

First things first, assuming you might be fired up and ready to host your own team tailgate party, let’s go over the tailgate checklist. Here are some of the top tailgating necessities and other key items you’ll probably want to bring along.


  • Main Courses
  • Sides
  • Condiments
  • Drinks
  • Spices


  • Tailgate Grill
  • Propane
  • Grill Tools
  • Grilling Plates
  • Oven Mitt
  • Cutting Board

Hot dogs and hamburgers on a kettle grill


  • Washers
  • Football
  • Ping Pong Balls
  • Can Jam
  • Tailgate Beanbag Toss


  • Napkins
  • Paper Plates
  • Paper Towels
  • Plastic Ware
  • Party Cups
  • Trash Bags
  • Foil
  • Foil Pans
  • Serving Ware


  • Beer
  • Bottle Opener
  • Cooler
  • Ice
  • Koozies

A group of men, women and children gathered around a grill at a football tailgate party


  • Folding Tables
  • Card Table
  • Chairs
  • Table Cloth
  • Crock Pots or Chafing Dishes


  • Hand Warmers
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug Spray
  • Hand Sanitizer


  • Fire Extinguisher
  • Sharpie
  • Bungee Cords
  • Duct Tape
  • Wet Wipes
  • Cleaning Supplies
  • Zipper Seal Bags
  • Car Power Adapter
  • Speaker
  • Generator
  • Tailgate Tent

Tailgate Packing Tips

Just face it—your trunk will probably be full in no time. You will likely find better ways of doing things the more tailgates you have. Here are a few tailgating tips to help you make the most of your car’s storage space.

  1. If you have decent trunk space, consider packing all your tailgating supplies in plastic bins. This way they’ll always be ready to go to the next tailgate.
  2. Keep a pad of sticky notes and a pen inside the bin. Now you can easily keep track of items that are running low or completely gone. Simply replace, pack in the bin, and enjoy another tailgate next time.
  3. Make use of a power adapter that will allow you to keep your crock pot cooking during the drive to the stadium. Place the crock pot inside a shallow cardboard box or similar item to help keep your car clean.
  4. Remove car seats and children’s items prior to the tailgate if traveling adults-only. Give yourself as much space as possible for comfort, convenience, and safety.
  5. Bring (at least) two coolers – one for food and one for drinks.
  6. Keep your plastic baggies and foil handy so you can easily pack up leftovers that are worth taking home. Put them on ice and enjoy game day!

Two cars parked in a stadium lot, two women tailgaters with megaphones - rival tailgaters

Important Tailgate Tips

Staying organized can help you keep your tailgate running on time without the rush. And of course, some rookie mistakes with your tailgate could leave you feeling low. Keep these important tailgating tips in mind.

  1. Check the timing on your preferred lots. Some lots are officially locked by as early as 9 a.m. on game day.
  2. If at all possible, get to the lot early enough so that you can make your food and then let your grill cool down and stow it back in your car. Horror stories of stolen tailgate grills and accessories are not at all uncommon.
  3. Remember that football fans can be fanatical. Try to avoid ruffling feathers too hard with your tailgate neighbors before the game in an effort to protect your vehicle and your tailgating gear.
  4. Likewise, on a hot day, hide unused propane under garbage bags to keep it safe from being swiped.
  5. Keep in mind that all of these cooking appliances, party goods, tailgate games, tents, chairs, favorite team themed accessories, and other tailgating necessities quickly add up. If space is a concern during the offseason, consider safely stashing your tailgating gear in a nearby personal storage unit until the home opener next year.

These tailgating tips should help you to get ready for a sweet tailgate party and an even better football game. Even if the ultimate tailgate party in your favorite team’s parking lot isn’t in your immediate future, you can still host a slammin’ backyard tailgate party with a little bit of effort and planning.