Tailgate parties are monumental fun. But they can also be hard work. For the party planner, the cook, the person who packs and unpacks the vehicle, that is. We think you, the host, should be really organized with the food, entertainment, booze, games, the setup and breakdown. Best way to do that? Make a list of everything you ever thought you might need at your tailgate party site. Now read on for the monster list of tailgate party supplies, 2015!
1. Make a list. Get a plain old notebook or do it on your Smartphone such as ‘Ultimate to do list’. Hey, that’s what I am doing. Follow it as best you can. It’s not a bad idea to maintain an ongoing tailgate party record from week to week of what you served, any site problems and the best games for your buds and then you can contact us and let us in on your experiences from site to site.
2. Read up and get some inspiration. Books such as this Game Day Fan Fare are fun to browse though and you will get some ideas on how to make your tailgate party a success. Or just read each section here on our site that we have collated for you over the years we have been researching and writing all about awesome tailgating.
3. Set up your tailgate party kit by staging it in a room. Lay out everything you want to take and make sure it fits in your vehicle. Each year, we seem to gather more and more bits and pieces that are seen as standard equipment. One year it just didn’t fit so I bought a trailer hitch AND a rack. Remember that your space in the parking lot is limited but if you have a small car with a trailer hitch or rack like this 60″ Folding Truck Car Cargo Carrier Basket Luggage Rack Hitch Hauler and you will fit everything more easily. Otherwise, buy a Silverado.
4. Containers: some well-designed, well-sealed pantry containers can hold salads, meat, marinades, pie of course and cream. I don’t buy round or odd shaped ones but hunt out square ones with the straightest sides possible. These Rubbermaid plastic boxes don’t leak and when empty, the modular containers will fit inside each other for the trip home and the lids also clip together. We know they are not just for Tailgate Parties, but they are red and that could easily match a team logo …
5. You WILL need a Kegerator: get a nifty portable kegerator for travel (The Avanti Kegerator holds nearly 13 gallons) and have something like this Edgestar Kegerator full sized at home for the big kegs and home-gating. Or if you have a large truck and a big party, bring your full sized kegerator too – even a double tap model – but scope out where the source of electricity is, well in advance of the day. Note that we have examined many kegerators and you can read all about it in an article devoted to just those we felt were tailor made for tailgate party use.
You may need a generator if there is no power on your site. Read our comparison, our ‘dos and don’ts’ in regard to portable power on site. There are rules!
6. Growlers for some specialty beers and drinks. Hey, the coffee can even go in there, say a nice cold brew. Or hot. This one is great for all kinds of drinks at any temperature. Check out the handsome Hydro Flask and note that its multi-use extends to keeping beers chilled and at the right temperature for that excellent 1/2 inch of foam no more no less. Many users say that a few judiciously filled quality growlers are just a good as a freshly pulled brewski. I think I need to research that a while lot more. But if space is a problem, then growlers will be a good solution.
This is a great looking container, anyway don’t you think? Excellent man gift, too. Hint! Hint!
7. Practice your recipes and pack the food in sections according to when you will need them ie. snacks at the top and bottom, entrees second from top, desserts under that. Beer all the way around or better still, in a dedicated cooler. Put your marinated meats in ziplocs or in well sealed and cooled containers such as the aforementioned Rubbermaid range. The heat bags and so on are still the same as last year so stick with the one you already have.
8. Disposables or reusable dinnerware, beverage containers and silverware? I don’t like disposables and even my red solo cups are reusable. But that’s because Ms. Tailgater is a fanatical environmentalist and now I am too. It’s a bit of effort. On the upside, reusing saves money. A lot of money. Apparently the average household in the USA throws out more than $1000 worth of plastic and paper each year. That can buy a lot of beer. Just sayin’. Besides, this solo cup looks like the real thing. Or is IT the real thing and the plastic ones the fakes? Not sure. You be the judge. Yep, these go in the dishwasher. Between us, Beer Pong is a tad easier with these. As cheating is quite OK at tailgate parties, you can set up your beer pong game with these, Actually, the upside is that you spill less beer.
Don’t forget to pack bottle openers and all the plates, cups etc. you need.
9. Clean that grill really well.
Tailgate parties live or die on the memories and there’s nothing like the longevity of the memory of an attack of Moctezuma’s Curse attributable to a dirty grill. The flames for char grilling aren’t enough to kill all the bacteria. You have to clean it. And store it away from dust. I am sure you treat it like the first-born-son that it is and keep it in the best possible condition but if you have missed a day or two, then now is the time to give it a really good scrub. This terrific grill cleaning brush gets in between the cracks and will make the job easier. It has a free basting brush and carry bag too. It’s from USA Kitchen Elite, a BBQ Grill Brush – 18″- 3 Stainless Steel Brushes in 1 – with bags and free silicone ribs baster.
10. Got your propane supplies? I think Walmart presently has the best price on the small bottles (which can change on a daily basis) but most hardware stores have it for around the same price ($2.50 a bottle-ish). Bring a couple of spares. Or invest in the grab and go exchange plan at your local gas station.
11. How are your folding chairs holding up? Do they need replacing or just a good clean? Check all the joints and make sure there are no splits in the covers. You don’t want anyone falling through …. Though it always gets a laugh. Otherwise there are bargains galore at the moment. Choose something like this one from Coleman the camping experts – has a great side table which has enough space for food AND drink. It folds flat for easy carrying but that supports your beefy buds. But we have done a few articles on chairs so check out the full range. We love ’em all.
And here’s a nifty bench that can even manage to support my beefy buds. It’s from Insta-Bench Classic 6-Seater Bench and I think two of these would cover a good sized party while taking little space in transporting it.
12. So … each year I notice that cooler technology improves and improves and I add items to my wish-list. Consequently, I get cooler coolers (pardon the pun) as often as most Dads get socks and ties. I have a few ranging from this complete set and a few even bigger Igloo wheeled industrial coolers that can double as seats.
13. Ice Maker. Regardless of the naming of the months and seasons, the hot weather hangs on for months. And ice is always welcome. Here’s something we have that will eventually pay for itself and save you many trips to the store for overpriced-leaky bag ice. It’s the Igloo ICE102-Red Compact Ice Maker, and it churns out the ice so fast you can’t help but be impressed. It’s also bright red. It’s not super big but you can stockpile the ice in containers or reusable Ziploc bags and save a lot of money. Ms. Tailgater usually makes up a lot of small bags of ice and pokes them in at various levels of the cooler.
14. Beer of course. Hopefully in your kegerator. I recently stumbled on some pretty inspiring beer based recipes that will keep the girls happy. As well, one is called ‘Vitamin C Brew’ which really puts it in the domain of health food which is essential for a good life. Here’s the recipe:
‘Vitamin C Brew’
Put the following into a pint glass: 2 oz fresh orange juice,1 oz gin, top with Miller High Life and garnish with a slice of citrus. You can also make these with limes or lemon. Don’t bother with grapefruit. It really doesn’t work and a lot of people can’t drink grapefruit juice as it clashes with statins.
Then there’s the ‘Raspberry Snakebite’
1 oz. crème de cassis topped off with raspberry lambic eg.Lindeman’s Framboise.
OK, that’s my gift to the Ladies.
For me … don’t mess with the beer.
15. Food – here’s the thing. You can be traditional: burgers, mac’n’cheese, hot dogs, pizza, fried chicken. Or creative. Ms. Tailgater insists on the latter and I go along with it because she is so darn good at it. We do all of the above but with a spin on the norm. Her salads are amazing. And her mac’n’cheese is also impressive. So my advice is ‘practice makes perfect’. Test and eat all the menu items all year and take the stress out of tailgate party life. It’s not like you’re ever gonna get tired of eating that food!
Here’s a quick and easy starting point but branch out to Food & Wine magazine as well as they are very grill-savvy. The Tailgater’s Cookbook has some nice, simple ideas.
16. Water and non-alcoholic drinks. Yes, some people do have ‘em. Water is essential. This one is practical as you can shrink it up at the end of the day for the trip home. You can freeze it too so it doubles as a cooler insert. Buy a few. Leave one just with water, use the others in place of ice then drink them.
My Ma always reminds me …’son,’ she says, ‘alternating your beers with water will stave off the inevitable.’ She’s not wrong about much and hasn’t had a hangover for many years. Tailgate parties are notorious for drunken behavior and hangovers (that’s why we keep coming back for more) but I am thinking that at least the designated driver will need water. The Lifeunion 5 Litres Collapsible Water Container, BPA Free Plastic Water Carrier, Outdoor Folding Water Bag for Tailgate Parties is a great addition to any tailgate party.
17. Pepto Bismol/Alka Seltzer. Just in case. Chewables – work fast. Very handy. Pack with the food not the 1st Aid Kit.
18. Roll of paper towels, napkins, tea-towels depending on your environmental awareness. I know we have had to mop up some … well, I won’t go into that.
19. Trash bags. A roll of these will never go astray. All tailgate parties generate a heap of mess and it is great to clean up as you go. Get strong bags. Cut armholes. Improvise a poncho in case of rain. No umbrellas are allowed in most stadiums.
20. Yeah someone will ask for it. We used to maintain a proper coffee/tea station in our tailgate party setup but now, all I do is decant some brewed coffee into thermos flasks and take one with some milk. Saves messing around and once it is finished, hey, it’s finished and you’ll need a trip to Starbucks to refill. A few of these great Thermos Flasks can store your coffee and keep it hot/cold for 24 hours.
21. First aid kit. BBQ-beer-games-beer-men behaving badly. Good chance of at least a slight burn. Pack a small first aid kit, check it before each party and replenish or customize as required.
22. Maybe you better pack that fire extinguisher as well. Make sure it is a multi-purpose one that attacks grease fires as well as other fires. As well, keep a pound of salt on hand. Nothing better for a grease fire than smothering it in salt and a lid. You certainly want a safe tailgate party.
23. Table cloths, decorations, matching napkins in team colors.
And maybe that flag pole so your buds can find you in the parking lot just in case they can’t hear that yours is the happiest tailgate party in the lot. This gadget will anchor your pole and then add the telescoping pole and flag of your choice: patriotic or team spirited.
Of course, your guests could always use the GPS on their smartphones but it wouldn’t be as decorative. Waze ‘ll do it for you though it may take you on a 5 mile detour to save you 30 seconds. Get the Waze app anyway.
24. Koozies, cooking implements and so on.
25. Rain gear, a couple of blankets or very large towels.
26. TV and if required, some power source. See our articles on power generators and TVs. I am really keen on the Smart TV which you can run wirelessly from your laptop. The Samsung UN32J5205 32-Inch 1080p Smart LED TV (2015 Model) is plenty big enough and does everything you want. 32″ is small enough to carry but big enough for you all to see while the party is happening AND cheap enough so you don’t have to wait till Black Friday to buy it.
27. Games, games, games!
Now, this is an area that can take pages on its own but the Number One is to bring a football or two and do NOT ask Tom Brady to inflate it for you.
We have some articles on games but allow me to add Giant Sized Jenga. (Mega Hi-Tower – Extra Tall 6ft During Play) (Includes Canvas Storage Bag). It is to the 21st century what Twister was to the 20th. A lot of action-packed craziness while sober so you can imagine how good it is after a couple of doses of malt and hops. Well worth the bother of transporting it.
I like the big games but they do fill the truck fast and take some concentration.
The drinking games are sooooo much better. I guess you knew I would go down that route.
IMHO stick to the traditional washer toss and corn-hole and beer pong,
Here’s a new game setup from ‘Kid Agains’ (yes, that is their name) that would cover a few different tailgate party fun times with a few beery rewards added in there. It’s easy to transport and put together and does double duty as a beach game too and is called the Quarterback Touchdown Football Skill Challenge and Toss Game so it’s a clear winner for the new generation of tailgate party games. Sets up and breaks down fast and folds up small for transporting.
28. Don’t get skin cancer out there at the tailgate party – slip slop and slap as they say in Australia. It works for them.
29. Portable speakers for your music source. (I have a Sirius list specifically for tailgate parties). You can’t beat the good ol’ Blockrocker though for its output. This one has an extended range, and of course, Bluetooth and will keep your tailgate party hopping.
But of course, you can just connect your phone to this Football Shaped Bluetooth Portable Speaker:
It’s a bit lacking in oomph, but it could be OK for parking spaces for tailgate parties which are small anyway. And hey, it’s a football!
30. An extra shade boost or shelter. Some people use full-on canopies and this pretty much gives them a room in their parking space. This is appealing but then there’s also a shade sail. The disadvantage of that is that you need to think about how to hang it and that will depend on your site. You need 3 or 4 anchors depending on the shape. High ones so that you can walk under. But they are great for keeping shade on that TV screen. Some people have extended poles at the back of their trucks and, with a neighbor’s assistance, stretch the shade sail between spots.
THE BONUS ROUND!
32. Portable bar. If you really want to make serving tailgate party food and booze a breeze, add in one of these. Set up your dishes, your drinks and everything you need and the bar becomes the centerpiece of the tailgate party. You can get them themed to your team. If you already own one and it needs a freshen up, then changing the livery is simple as you can buy that separately from ‘Best of Times’.
33. Pong Bounce is another great game in the parking lot as it is fun and really only effective to play on a hard surface. Parking lots are a dream for this game. I won’t even try to explain how to play but be assured it is wacky, loud, crazy and lends itself to beery rewards.
34. Finally …. Do I have to spell it out? Consider some way of monitoring your booze content before you get into the car, homeward bound. A breathalyzer of some kind is a good idea. This is the BACtrack S80 Professional Breathalyzer, Portable Breath Alcohol Tester, highly regarded and reviewed.
There is, of course, a Smartphone app breathalyzer, also by BAC and these are compact and definitely more ‘2015’ than the last lot of testers. Check them out as there are a few in the range suited for your phone. It features bluetooth connectivity, Xtend Fuel Cell Sensor Technology and of course, BACtrack’s police-grade sensor technology which has the highest level of accuracy and consistency professionals rely on. Of course! After all, I am a professional tailgate partier! This is for me.
So there you have it, tailgate party dudes! Stuff you need to think of for your tailgate party so that on the day, all you need to do is check off the items on the list before you leave home and spend the rent of the day with the glorious amber brews, tailgate party food, corn-hole and beer pong, and of course, your best buds! (Oh, and somewhere there’s a game happening.)