Skip to content

Mastering the Fine Art of Tailgating

Now that the National Football League labor dispute has been settled, the season can officially carry on as usual. It’s back to business.

Arguably the best part of the game day ritual, tailgate parties, have become tradition. According to, they date back to the very first football game ever played between Rutgers and Princeton in 1869, when fans traveled to the game by horse-drawn carriage, grilling sausages at the “tail end” of the horse.

Not much has changed since then – well, except for our inability to cause a gasp-inducing spectacle by parading to the big game with a particular barnyard animal. Regardless, all sports fans know the significant importance of a quality tailgate.

Careful planning, preparation and execution are the keys to a successful tailgating experience. Here are nine important tips for the perfect tailgate.

Dress in team colors.
Wear the proper attire – a favorite player’s jersey, sweatshirt or at bare minimum, team colors. Show that team spirit! Decorate your tailgate site with team pennants and represent with pride!

The menu. Perhaps, one of the most essential elements of tailgate parties is the food. Make sure that you have lots of it. Plan a simple menu, one with plenty of portable, quick and easy to prepare recipes. Let’s not forget the beverages – both of the adult and children kind.

Entertainment. This can range from music, a variety of games or even sports-related trivia. Make sure that whatever you decided on, that it encourages participation from all members of the tailgate. Keep them engaged!

Arrive early and stay late. It’s best to plan to arrive at least 3 hours early to have ample time to fully enjoy your tailgating get together. Additionally, after the game has ended, make time to stay a couple of hours after to enjoy post-game talk and festivities while devouring the leftovers.

Check the rules. Before you consider bringing any alcoholic beverages along, always be sure to check the rules and regulations of the area you will be tailgating in. You may not know it, but some parks do not allow alcohol.

Socialize with others. One must always remember to be kind to thy neighbor. Walk around and get to know those tailgating around you. It’s the perfect time to talk sports while sharing food and swapping recipes.

Stay sanitized. With all this open-air cooking, germs are bound to make an entrance somehow. Before you cook and eat, be sure to use a few drops of hand sanitizer and you’re good to go.

Good company. A place is only as good as the people you know in it. With that said, it is recommended to share company with great friends during a tailgate. This guarantees a fun time to be had by all.

Tidy up. Nothing is worse than one who doesn’t clean up after him or herself. Leave your area as clean as possible. Assure that all trash is properly disposed of and uneaten food is packed away.