Hot dog, potato chips, and other tailgating foods
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Tailgating Essentials: Must-Have Gear and Top Tips for a Great Time

Football season is back and that means tailgating is in full swing. From cornhole tournaments to relaxing with friends, tailgating is one of the best ways to enjoy some fall fun outdoors. So, gather up your tailgating essentials and take a look at our top tips for a great experience!


Top Tailgating Tips


If this is your first time tailgating, you might be looking for answers to questions such as ‘How do you have a tailgate party?’, ‘What items do you need for a tailgate party?’, ‘What makes a great tailgate?’ and ‘How do you pack for tailgating?’ You will get all your answers and more right here.


1. Keep Comfort In Mind


Woman relaxing on a Laze Pillow on the lawn


You will need comfy seating solutions. Pack folding chairs and cushions like the Laze Pillow. If it is a hot day, remember to carry an umbrella or pop-up canopy for shade and sunscreen. Remember to pack items such as blankets and layers, if it seems like the day will get cold.


Carry portable chargers; you will need them, and your guests might need them too. A first-aid kit will ensure that you are prepared for minor injuries and a bug spray/citronella candles might be helpful against the creepy crawlies. You are more likely to secure a good spot if you arrive early. Remember to check out the tailgating rules at the venue or specific event.


2. Make It Fun With Games And More


Friends playing cornhole on the lawn


Games are an essential part of what you need to have fun tailgating. Bring along cornhole, ring toss, dominoes, washers, or even just a frisbee. You do not want your tailgate party to be a snooze fest. Hold friendly contests or tournaments to keep everyone entertained.


Deck out your area with decorations (banners in team colors and the flag of your team). Carry portable Bluetooth speakers to set the mood with music or pre-game coverage. Also, remember to carry outdoor essentials such as generators, lights, and fans. Mingle with other fans to get the most out of your tailgating experience.


3. Clean Up After Yourself


Ledge Mainstay Trash Can


Carry trash bags (separate ones for trash and recyclables), paper towels, a portable sink, and sanitizer. Instead of leaving the task of cleaning up until the end, clean as you go.


If you have been grilling, ensure that you dispose of coals safely when you are done. Extinguish the coals completely; soak them with water to be on the safe side. Avoid leaving perishable food behind. If you have leftover food, either give it away or pack it up. Ensure that the area you use for tailgating is as clean as it was when you arrived. Be a responsible and considerate fan.


4. Consider Hosting a “Tailgate” at Home


Grilling out on the patio with a beautiful view


You can host a tailgating party in your own backyard for family or friends (if you intend to watch the game on your television at home). Plan the party, arrange the seating around the screen, send out your invitations, prepare the food, and have fun! If you are willing for the party to be a little over-the-top but mostly hassle-free, hire a food truck.


Food & Cooking Tips


Food should be on your list of tailgating essentials. It’s going to fuel the energy at the tailgating party and at the game. Bring or prepare sufficient snacks to share with your neighbors. Sharing and camaraderie are essential elements of a great tailgating party.


1. Make Convenient Choices


Hamburger ingredients and toppings


It might be better to pack your snacks in single servings or purchase food items that are already packaged in the form of single servings. Go for simple options that are not only easy to prepare but also convenient to eat. Finger foods such as burgers and hot dogs are all-time favorites.


Slice the toppings such as onions and tomatoes in the morning and arrange them on an aluminum tray to avoid all the mess around slicing and chopping later. Prepare refreshing salads such as coleslaw and fruit salad; store these in a cooler until you need them.


2. Step It Up a Notch


Snack platter with cheese, fruits, nuts, and mini pretzels


Opt for unique food ideas such as a brisket or charcuterie board for a more memorable tailgating party. Although fried seafood is another popular choice, you could take your party up a notch with grilled lobster. Provide plenty of beer and other alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage options. If you carry a portable deep fryer or airfryer, you could make crispy chicken tenders and mozzarella sticks. With a smoker, you will be able to slow-cook ribs and brisket. A dutch oven and a portable burner could help you prepare hearty tailgate meals.


3. Consider a Football Theme


Queso and football shaped bread


Creating your food items based on fun themes makes things more interesting. For instance, football is the simplest theme but it becomes the inspiration for plenty of incredible food ideas such as football brownies, football-shaped beef empanadas, football cupcakes, and even football chocolate-coated strawberries.


4. Bring Along All Your Food-Related Tailgating Essentials


Grilling tools for your backyard tailgate


Do not forget to carry your portable grill, charcoal, and essential tools. Prepare kebab skewers (with marinated meat, vegetables, and maybe even fruit) the night before. When the time comes, grilling will be simple and quick.


Pack items such as paper plates, cups, towels, and plasticware that will make serving, eating, and drinking easier. Of course, you are also going to need a portable table for the food and drinks. Try to stay organized with the prep station; remember that mess begets mess. 


Freeze bottles of drinking water and other beverages the night before, and use these as ice packs for keeping your perishable food cold. This way you will have cool drinks to offer, and your food also remains safe.


Checklist of Tailgating Essentials:


  • Seating - Packable chairs, blankets, Laze Pillows
  • Cooking gear - Grills, pans, utensils, charcoal, match light and tools
  • Food & drinks - Finger foods, dips, cold salads, sweets, alcoholic beverages, and non-alcoholic options.
  • Serving essentials - Plates, bowls, cups, bottle-openers and paper napkins
  • Outdoor essentials - Canopy, generators, lights, fans, coolers
  • Entertainment essentials - Cornhole sets and other games, Bluetooth speakers
  • Comfort items - umbrella, canopy, blankets, layers, portable chargers, sunscreen, and bug repellents
  • Clean-up essentials - Trash bags, paper towels, portable sink or hand sanitizer


Enjoy Your Tailgate Experience With Proper Prep


With the right gear and tailgating essentials along with some tried-and-true tips, anyone can host a fun outdoor gathering this football season. Now get out there and start planning your next tailgate!


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