Think tailgating is just an excuse to party? Think again. According to cultural anthropologist John Sherry, it’s about much more than that. “The idea of getting out of your house and feasting and drinking somewhere else is a pretty old tradition. People eat and drink and build up community in the process. It’s one last blowout before we hunker down for winter,” he told USA Today. Viewed through this lens, we can think of no better excuse to raise your tailgating game. Read on for a roundup of tips aimed at helping you throw your best tailgate rager yet.
1. Have a plan.
Worlds like “preparation” and “planning” may not be particularly sexy, but they’re the best way to make sure your tailgate party goes off without a hitch. From equipment to food, make a list of all supplies and action items beforehand. Also, determine how much time you’ll need to set up and get ready.
2. Do what you can in advance.
Cutting onions or skewering kabobs? Attending to these tasks the night before minimizes stress while also freeing you up to actually enjoy the party. If you’re a frequent tailgater, stock a toolbox with tailgate essentials and keep it handy. Some pro-level tailgaters even bring pre-packed sets of drawers along to contain everything from plates and koozies to bug spray and sunscreen.
3. Label everything.
There’s nothing worse than being unable to lay hands on what you need when you need it. Avoid chaos and confusion by labeling everything. This also means you won’t waste time — and energy — constantly opening coolers and containers looking for missing items. Speaking of labeling everything, don’t forget to do your part for the planet if you’re using plastic cups: Provide a marker for your guests to label their drinks.
4. Focus on the food.
Aside from the people, food just might be the most important part of your tailgate rager. Hungry bellies are happy bellies, after all. While you can’t go wrong with burgers and hot dogs, an outside-the-box menu can keep things interesting. For ideas and inspiration, check out the Food Network’s collection of 50 tailgating recipes.
Don’t have time to cook a gourmet menu yourself? Don’t be afraid to call in reinforcements. Real Simple’s “10 best store-bought party appetizers,” for example, are as easy as they are tasty.
5. Set the mood.
You don’t need balloons, streamers, and pinatas to pull off an amazing tailgate. A few simple touches go a long way. For starters, make sure you’ve got a jam-worthy playlist and a solid speaker system. Also, a color scheme — in your team hues, natch — is also festive; we love a good themed drink or portable jello shots, while iced cupcakes in these colors continues the theme.
6. Make cleanup a breeze.
Make sure you’ve got plenty of garbage bags and recycling bins. We also recommend bringing along a large, lidded tupperware container for dirty plates and glasses. When you’re ready to head into the game, just pile everything in, load it into the trunk, and you’re good to go until you’re home.
7. Relax and enjoy yourself!
No party is perfect, and trying to achieve perfection is just a recipe for failure. If you’re having fun, everyone else will, too. And remember: It’s not about outdoing everyone else with fancy decorations or an amazing spread; it’s about sharing an experience with some of your favorite people.
When it comes to throwing a truly next-level tailgate rager, there’s a new secret weapon in town: FIREDISC cookers. This lightweight, hassle-free tailgate grill sets up in seconds and features a unique circular design that creates a gathering space for your guests. Three temperature zones, meanwhile, allow you to cook and keep food warm at the same time. And did we happen to mention the impressive 22” cooking service and 5-gallon capacity. Shop our high-performance outdoor cookers to take a big step toward asserting your tailgate supremacy today.