A Tailgating Essentials List for Fall Sports Fans

Last Updated on September 10, 2019 by Diane Hoffmaster

Tailgating is a lifestyle and it is gearing up quickly this month.  If you look forward to tailgating season, it’s time to get your grill and cooler ready to go.  But, there is more to it than just hot dogs and beer. Make sure you have everything you need with this tailgating essential list! 

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Tailgating Essentials List for Fall Sports Fans

What is a tailgate game?

If you are new to tailgating, you may not even understand what tailgating means.   Basically, a tailgate game is a a party that revolves around sports.   It is basically an outdoor social event  held in the parking lot of whatever sporting event you want to watch. However, it is so much more than that.   

A tailgate party is a pre-game celebration to get you excited for the game you are about to watch.  You can certainly “tailgate” at home and many people do just this.  Many people could care less about the sport, they just want an outdoor party! They set up their tailgate party in the backyard, on their deck, or in their driveway on game day…. and then ignore the game completely!

people walk through Candlestick Parking lot to the stadium


Tailgating Essentials for Fall Sports Fans

No matter how prepared you are, somehow there is always a useful tool or piece of gear that gets accidentally left out of your party.  Or, maybe you are a tailgating newbie and just don’t know what to pack!  Here are a few must have items for your next tailgate party:

  1. SportBrella – The SportBrella is a portable umbrella that sets up in seconds and protects your entire family from wind, rain, sand and the blazing sun.  Fall football starts in August here in the south and it is still well into the 90’s.  Staying out of the sun is vital to my pasty white family!
  2. Tailgating Cooler – A tailgating cooler is an ice chest, storage case and all the utensils in one portable package. Shoulder strap or handles, you decide how to carry it. There are a lot of things to lug to your football game to feed your crew and this keeps everything contained in one space.
  3. LED Lantern – Fall football games can last HOURS and often darkness descends before the game is over.  Invest in an  LED Lantern to light up your space once the sun goes down.
  4. BackPack Cooler ChairAll in one – your chair, your cooler, and your hands are free! The backpack cooler chair is a convenient place to sit so you don’t have to move to grab a drink!  Make sure you add this one to your tailgating essentials list!
  5. Football BlanketSince childhood, sitting on the bleachers was always better with one of these wool blankets over your legs. Once the weather starts to cool off, you won’t want to sit in the stands shivering so make sure you grab a football blanket before you head out!
  6. Grill LightIt always gets dark before you know it. Clip this almost anywhere and the flexible neck lets you point it where you need it. It is very hard to grill in the dark so add a grill light to your tailgating essentials list! 
  7. Weather Resistant Outdoor SpeakerGet the sound to everyone with a large speaker to help boost the sound of your tailgating music.  A weather resistant outdoor speaker means you don’t have to panic when a storm passes through unexpectedly! 
  8. Football ClawNow there’s the perfect place to keep that Game Ball – on the wall! Lots of young kids love to bring along a football to play with while their parents tailgate.  The Football Claw will make sure you can find it every time you need it!
  9. Stadium Seat Bleachers offer absolutely zero back support.  Adding a portable stadium seat allows you to rest in comfort while watching your favorite team play!
  10. Portable Tailgating Grill:  Everyone loves grilled food while tailgating, right?  This portable tailgating grill makes it easy to take your grill on the road!

A tailgating essential list for fall sports fans


How to Tailgate and Actually Have Fun

Football tailgating (or whichever sport you prefer) can be fun if done right.  If NOT done properly, it can be a stressful mess! Follow these tailgating tips and you’ll have fun in the hours before you head into the stadium.

  • Get there early. Seriously.  WAYYYY early.  The traffic will be a nightmare, I promise.
  • Bring drinks.  That means some for you, some for your friends, and more to share.  Both alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks are important.  Stay hydrated or you’ll end up sick.
  • Pace yourself.   Tailgating can last a while so take things slowly. 
  • Don’t just bring packaged foods.  Get creative.  Bring homemade chili in a crock pot or a batch of corn dog muffins.  
  • Bring game friendly alcohol.  That means CANS or something that can be poured into plastic cups.  No glass is usually allowed when tailgating. 
  • Keep pick up games to a minimum.  You don’t want your Nerf Football to end up in someone else’s bowl of chili.  

Group of friends doing football tailgating. Cooking food, cheering, etc.

How do you do a tailgate party right?

The tailgate party is a bit of a tradition when it comes to football party fans.   They usually include some sort of  epic food displays, weird party games, and some much needed bonding time with friends and family. But, how do you do a tailgate party if you are a total newbie?  Is there a right or wrong way to throw a football party?  

The biggest thing you are going to need to plan is your tailgating menu.  This will need to be some combination of hot and cold foods, chips and drinks, finger foods and more filling main dishes.  Make sure you have a way to keep your hot food hot and your cold food cold. Stock up on plates and utensils if you plan on serving anything other than finger foods.  Make sure cleanup is planned in advance and bring plenty of trash bags.  

Tailgating can be tons of fun for the whole family, or so all of my friends tell me.  Now that I have a high school band student, I think I will be doing a lot more tailgating this fall!  I put together a Pinterest Tailgating Recipes board for inspiration and you can check out some of the items mentioned here before you head out for fall tailgating! What is on YOUR tailgating essentials list?

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