burger toppings

7 Steps for Throwing an Awesome Tailgate Party

If you’re not a foam hat-wearing, face-painting, sign-waving sports fan, that’s OK. Thanks to tailgating, you can still love a day at the stadium. The tailgate party has turned into a pre-game tradition with epic food displays, party games, and bonding time with friends. Food lovers can mingle among neighboring trucks, minivans, and hatchbacks to swap barbecue techniques or sample one-of-a-kind grilled desserts.

Ready to take your tailgating skills to the big leagues? Here are some essential tailgate party tips and recipe ideas that will bring home the win at your next game-day event.

1. Make a Plan

Check your venue’s website for their policies on alcohol, glass containers, types of food carriers, etc. Plastic cups and drink pitchers are usually a safe bet.

Plan out your entire menu—then divide and conquer. Ask your friends to join the team and bring a dish or two to share.

Don’t forget plates, napkins, utensils, ice, water, sunscreen, and trash bags for cleanup.

2. Choose the Tailgate Food

Prepare as much food ahead of time as possible. Marinate meats the night before. Press burgers and stack them between sheets of wax paper. Many foods like corn or baked potatoes can be cooked in advance and then heated up on a portable grill. Bring a big bag of homemade kettle corn to snack on all day long. Check out these tailgate menu ideas that will score big points with everyone.

Kick-Off Appetizers

Fan-Fave Drinks

Main Dishes From the Grill

Winning Desserts

Photo by @fourseasonsofautumn

3. Claim Your Spot

Arrange for at least two cars to arrive together and park next to each other. When you get to the venue’s parking lot, call your fellow tailgaters and let them know where you’re located. Bring a few large, distinctive helium balloons to help friends find you easily in the crowd.

4. Keep Hot Foods Hot and Cold Foods Cold.

It’s important to keep food at the right temperature. For transporting salads, cold pasta dishes, or burger and hot dog toppings, Cool & Serve trays are the perfect solution. Their cooling inserts keep foods chilled for 4–6 hours. Plus, you can customize them with several tray configurations.

For foods you want to keep warm, Rockcroks are a great solution. They’re made of a clay material that retains heat. Plus, they can go on the grill to warm up chili or meatballs.

Bring multiple coolers. One cooler should be designated specifically for meats. Clearly label coolers for alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks so everyone can find what they want quickly. Don’t forget the wine tumblers.

5. Pack Your Grill Accessories

If you’ll be grilling, have all your grill tools ready. Bring a small fire extinguisher and metal bucket with a lid to put out and store used coals safely. Here’s a quick checklist of additional game-day gear you’ll need:

  • Basting brush
  • Insulated gloves
  • Spatulas
  • Grill scraper
  • Grill basket
  • Grill Mat

6. Make a Checklist

  • Hand sanitizer and/or wet wipes
  • Paper towels
  • Dish soap
  • A large plastic tub for dirty dishes
  • Small folding tables
  • Stadium chairs
  • First aid kit
  • Plastic tarps
  • Blankets
  • Hand warmers
  • Rain ponchos
  • Plastic zip bags
  • Permanent markers and masking tape to label food containers and coolers

7. Take Care of Your Guests

Have tons of fun. Mix and mingle with your fellow tailgaters. Play some bag toss. Offer samples of your prized dishes, and be proud of your culinary victories. Give yourself enough time to clean up before the game starts. Or, if you want to keep the party going, turn up the radio so the sports fans won’t miss a minute of the action.

7 Responses to 7 Steps for Throwing an Awesome Tailgate Party

  1. Charlotte McPeak January 27, 2017 at 7:55 pm #

    Sirloin with loaded potatos and roasted asparagus

    Loaded nachos

    Yuengling beer

    Cheesecake or Chocolate ice cream

  2. Jody Specht September 13, 2017 at 11:38 am #

    May I have the brownie football recipe?? PSU fan and we tailgate all the time!!

  3. Joanne McDaniel October 1, 2017 at 8:24 pm #

    These are all great tips for throwing the year’s best tailgate parties. I especially appreciate your mention of having a game plan. Not knowing what you will serve, how many people will attend, and all the other details such as decor, seating arrangements, and surround-sound on your TV can ruin a good party instantly. If you are looking for an even better way to reduce the stress that comes with tailgating in your own home, consider a local caterer to help you plan and serve delicious, healthy, and specialty diet friendly party foods. Thanks again for sharing!

  4. Audrey Doughty February 3, 2018 at 12:29 pm #

    I’m doing it for Madi Gras.

  5. Valerie Zehetner September 25, 2018 at 10:53 am #

    Last weekend I did brunch while tailgating… The Rock Crock on the grill for scrambled eggs worked like a charm!

  6. Rebecca Nace January 7, 2020 at 5:59 pm #

    Thanks for the ideas. This is a good plan for tailgating at Arrowhead Stadium before watching the Kansas City Chiefs.

Leave a Reply