Planning a tailgating party is a lot like planning any other party—the point is really about bringing friends together for fun. But with a tailgating party, odds are much higher you’re going to make some new friends, too, especially if your sports soiree includes some critical supplies. Maybe you’ve never been part of one of these football bashes…well, don’t worry. We have a complete game plan to get you going on putting together a party that will be considered a win for any team (ok, ok, that’s where the word ‘play’ on sports stops…even I know when it’s too much).
It used to be that all you needed was the tailgate of a truck or wagon to pull off one of these parties. Not so much now. With the right people and the right food and drinks, that might fly, but more often than not, you’re going to want more.
Amy Bentz is famous for these parties among her friends. A graduate of Florida State University more than just a few years ago and a dedicated fan, she’s thrown dozens of tailgating parties, even flying in to where her beloved ‘Noles are playing around the country and putting a party together on the ground there. She can’t always cart all of her supplies with her to each game—she says home games fill multiple cars—so she’ll scale back on some of this when they’re ‘on the road’, or tap into supplies of the local alumni living where the team is playing (she has quite the network built up around the country).
- Amy says rule number one is to have plenty of beer, and not just any beer, but COLD beer. Amy sets up a complete bar, providing one table for the drinks and another table for all the food she plans to serve. She’ll stock up on plenty of beer, soda, and water, along with the coolers and ice to keep them all cold. Her experience: if you have beer, or that beer gets warm, you have no party. Period.
- Rule number two: If your team is playing where it’s warm, bring a tent. Maybe two. True football fans know I’m not talking about the kind of tent that you sleep in during a weekend in the woods. No. This just needs to be the kind of tent that will offer some shade on a hot afternoon. Or cover if there’s an afternoon shower. But it’s also part of your decorations, especially if your tent is decorated in the team colors. Don’t worry—you don’t have to get crafty. They sell them like this.
- Rule number three: Have food. Sweet and salty. Amy used to go nuts with homemade fare, but she says experience has shown her that you don’t need to worry about that. She explains, “Quite frankly, people don’t care. They just need food. Chicken fingers and hot dogs work for most. I do have healthier eaters and we try to accommodate who’s coming.” She’s not shy about asking for others who are part of the event to pitch in…either by bringing food (or whatever else she delegates), or by pitching in to pay for it. That’s not something you hang your head about here. People expect to be asked to contribute if they’re going to be part of the weekly fun. Her tip on whether to cook or cater: base it on the party size. When she has a ‘small’ gathering of less than 30, she’ll bring the grill and they’ll cook. More than that and she has a catering company deliver the food right to her tailgating spot in the parking lot.
- Rule number four: Make it fun for the kids who might be coming. Happy kids make for happy parents. Amy includes face paint, body glitter, temporary tattoos, crazy sunglasses, candy, all kinds of fun in her supply bins. Games like corn hole are great for the adults, too.
- Rule number five: Have a good attitude!!! Make that mandatory for the party guests, too.
You’ll want to copy her supply list. She spelled it out for us here:
Tent, fold out tables, napkins, plastic utensils, plates, trash bags, anti-bacterial hand wipes, coozies to help keep those drinks cold, cups for the soda, a Sharpie pen to label those cups, straws, aluminum foil, paper towels, sunscreen, bug spray, bandaids (just in case), scissors (for all kinds of stuff, and because when you need them, you never have them, so this way, you’re always covered), duct tape (for the same reason as scissors), zip ties, a grill if you’re cooking, grill tools, extra decor (tablecloths, pennants, maybe signs, balloons, beads). Oh, and disposable shot glasses.
She admits they’re not very “green”, but has found it’s important to be as disposable as possible at these parties on the go.
You’ll also want at least two good, comfortable folding chairs. Guests should know to bring their own.
And you’ll want somebody with a camera (or phone with a camera) to document the party.
Some tailgaters take things to another level entirely, also bringing generators, big screen TVs, fans, and more. This is especially important if you’re trying to keep up with the competition (both as tailgaters and the competition for your team…nobody wants to miss big games that are underway before yours). That adds a lot more work to the equation, so you may want to wait to tackle this addition (I swear, I didn’t do that on purpose) to your tailgating fun.
If you don’t have that TV, make sure you have music. Amy says her group even has live music at least twice a season (thanks to connections through her partner-in-party fun, Marice Leo).
One tip to keep in mind: watch how much those guests end up drinking. You don’t want to be held liable if they can’t walk their way into the stadium. It sounds crazy, but it happens.
I’d love for you to leave a tip below in the comments if you have something more to share on putting together the perfect tailgating party. Feel free to tell us what your favorite football-watching food is, and even include a link on how to make it if you’d like.
Want to win a whole lot of money for your next tailgating party (or whatever else you decide you need)? This post is part of a blog linkup celebrating the start of football season! Just follow the instructions below for several chances to enter and win! The prize is a $300 Amazon gift card, and this is a giveaway hosted by the Alpha Blogga Blogga Sisters (sounds like a college sorority, right, but it’s not…just a circle of friends supporting each other in business). Be sure to read the other blogs that are part of this giveaway. They all have great information for football fans to share.
The giveaway starts Sunday 9/7 at 12 a.m. EST and ends Sunday 9/21 at 11:59 p.m. It’s open to residents of the US and Canada, 18+ yrs of age.