Fall Tailgate Party Ideas & Tips
Break out the beer and the giant foam finger: tailgating season has arrived. America is crazy about football and crazy about parties. When you combine the two, you get a taste of true American celebration. If you're planning a tailgating party this season, take a look at these 5 crucial ingredients for the ultimate good time.
1. Gear - Don't show up to your tailgating party without being properly decked out in your team's gear. Jerseys and hats may not be enough, so try one (or all) of these fun additions:
- Face paint (this can also be a fun activity to share with guests)
- Helmets (especially useful if you're planning a pre-game scrimmage)
- Team flags (wave your team pride with honor)
Since tailgating season coincides with a drop in temperature, don't forget to bring extra clothes and blankets. No one wants to spend precious tailgating time worrying about the wind chill factor.
Don't forget to bring gear for your cookout. Around the start of tailgating season, many outdoor/sport equipment stores have great sales on small, portable grills.
2. Drinks - It's not really a tailgating party unless you've got a large cooler full of ice-cold beer and soda. There are always the old stand-bys (Miller, Bud, and Coors), but if you feel like branching out, try one of these options from smaller, less corporate breweries:
- Sierra Nevada's Autumn Brown Ale - delightfully smooth, dark-roasted malt.
- Dogfish Head's India Brown Ale - Strong and rich ale, hints of chocolate and orange peel
- Buffalo Bill's Pumpkin Ale - One of the best pumpkin brews on the market. Great for fall.
- Kona Brewery's American Porter - Great summer/fall ale, brewed with real Kona coffee.
When it comes to soda, bring something for everyone. Classic favorites like Coca-Cola, Sprite, and Dr. Pepper are great for outdoor parties.
3. Food - Great food is a staple at any good tailgate. Like any outdoor event, your grill will be your best friend. A rule of thumb for tailgate fare: if it's served at a summer barbeque, it's fair game! Here are some options that will be great on your portable grill:
- Hot dogs
- Sausages – be adventurous with these, there are tons of turkey and chicken options on the market that are a nice bit of variety for outdoor parties.
- Veggie burgers - it's always a good idea to have these around, in case any non-meat eaters make your guest list.
If you're grilling, don't forget the extras. Be sure to stock up on condiments (ketchup, mustard, relish, sauerkraut) and whatever bread products (buns, rolls) you may need.
If you want to skip the grill, there are plenty of options, including:
- Cold-cut/cheese platters
- Potato salad
- Pasta salad
- Chips and dip
Cold items allow a bit more freedom when it comes to preparation, consumption, and clean up. If you're only serving cold items at your tailgate, guests won't have to wait to enjoy anything. Regardless of the route you take, be sure that you bring along enough utensils and disposable dinnerware for everyone. Don't forget the napkins! If you'd like to serve appetizers at your tailgate, check out these easy and delicious recipes.
4. Activities - When it comes to tailgating activities, there are tons of options. First of all, plan a scrimmage. It's traditional to at least toss around a football. Divide your guests into teams, and enjoy a fun and friendly game of touch or flag football. A complete arsenal of football equipment will appease your game-crazy guests, but if you're looking for some out-of-the-ordinary options, here are a few:
- Cornhole – this is a fun, modern alternative to traditional beanbag toss.
- Flipcup – sure it's a drinking game, but isn't that what tailgating is all about?
- Red rover – if you haven't played this game since you were in grade school, now's the time to unleash it again.
Music is also a must for any good tailgating party. Don't let the party start without a fully loaded sound system. Pre-load your music player with tailgate-ready playlists. If there are any music fiends on your guest list, invite them to contribute to the mix. Don't blow your speakers. Chances are other tailgaters will be playing music, too. Be courteous, and try not to drown them out.
5. Seating - With all that party-planning, it's easy to let some of the essentials slip your mind. One of the most frequently forgotten necessities at every tailgate is seating. This doesn't mean you need to pack up your couch and haul it over. A few lawn chairs/beach chairs will suffice. Chances are, there won't be a lot of sitting anyway.
Tailgating is a great way to show team spirit, and create awesome memories with great friends. If you're a habitual indoor party-thrower, this is your chance to think outside your walls. On top of everything, tailgating is great way to enjoy the fresh air and have a good time. Tailgate responsibly!