Whether you're a football fan or a friend of fan along for the ride, the tailgate party is one of the most important elements of the fall football experience. Every region and team has different ideas for making the pre-party lively, but there are a few things you need for any tailgate party. Here are a few tailgating essentials to create a spirited experience.
You have to have a lot of fuel to make sure you get through a whole day of football. Pack tailgate classics like hot dogs, hamburgers, kabobs, barbecue chicken, and brats, but you can also use this as an opportunity to show your team spirit. Make a team-inspired dip like Steelers Salsa or a casserole like the Cowboy Cornbread Casseroleto keep your guests fed. Desserts might be an easier place to show your pride. Serve sugar cookies decorated in your team colors or try something sophisticated like Boston cream pie cupcakes to support the Patriots. For drinks, stick with cans of your favorite beverages to pour in a mug: Coors and Orange Crush for Broncos fans or if you're rooting for the Packers, try Green Chop IPA from Badger State Brewing Company or green drink mix.
Base Camp Requirements
Turn your parking lot into party headquarters to keep guests entertained and comfortable. A portable canopy shields fans from the glare of fall sunshine or gives them shelter from autumn sprinkles. Under the canopy, you can never have too many chairs. Portable chairs come in all sizes; if you have kids along, you can even find some in their size with favorite cartoon characters. If it's cold, pack a few extra blankets to keep guests cozy. And to mark your spot, make sure to have a team flag so your guests can find you if they decide to explore the parking lot.
The party in the parking lot starts hours before kickoff so you'll have an overabundance of time to fill for your guests. Some lawn games (like bags) easily convert into parking lot games, but they have to be parking lot friendly, so bring along a football or baseball for catch, a Frisbee, and a pack of cards in case someone wants to play war. For passive entertainment, bring along portable speakers. It likely won't be quiet in the parking lot, but having fun music in the background while eating and socializing doesn't hurt.
Don't forget to pack emergency supplies in case of bad weather. The forecast can be more volatile in the fall than summer, so it's important to be prepared. Ponchos and umbrellas help keep you and guests dry. Extra garbage bags also work to protect you from the rain, so pack plenty for cleanup and inclement weather. For added safety, pack a fire extinguisher and first aid kit because emergencies can happen even in the best of times.