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What Are Tailgate Parties and How to Tailgate Like a Pro?

Friends eating and drinking at tailgating

Are you looking to master the art of tailgating? This popular American tradition, typically held in the parking lots of stadiums and concert arenas, combines socializing, good food, games, and anticipation for the big event. If you're new to tailgating or looking to up your game, this comprehensive guide is for you. From what exactly tailgating is, how to host one, essentials to pack, entertainment ideas, and even legalities to consider - we've got it all! 

We'll help you prepare, enjoy, and clean up after a successful tailgate party so you can fully enjoy yourself in this unique blend of culture, community, and celebration. Let's dive in!

  • What Is Tailgating Exactly?
  • What Do You Do at a Tailgating Party?
  • How to Tailgate, Then?
  • Conclusion
  • Tailgate Parties FAQs
  • What Is Tailgating Exactly?

    Simply put, tailgating is a social event typically held in the parking lots of stadiums or arenas before (and sometimes after) a sports game or a concert. 

    Named after the tailgate of a pickup truck, which often serves as a makeshift table or bench, these parties include hearty food and alcoholic beverages, playing games, engaging in friendly banter, and reveling in team spirit, all while basking in anticipation of the looming game or show.

    The parties are about community building, camaraderie, and celebrating shared passions. It’s a space where fans come together to show their fandom, bond over common interests, share stories, and create memories before heading into the stadium. Whether you’re a die-hard fan or just there for the fun, everyone is welcome at a tailgate party.

    What Do You Do at a Tailgating Party?

    Drinking and sitting in the car boot at a tailgate party

    Tailgating involves a variety of activities. From pre-game BBQs and potlucks brimming with burgers, hot dogs, and other mouth-watering delights, to adrenaline-pumping games like cornhole and beer pong – there's never a dull moment at a tailgate party. You can also bring coolers filled with drinks, portable grills for cooking, tables, chairs, games, and even TVs to catch the pre-game shows.

    How to Tailgate, Then?

    Tailgating sounds intimidating for first-timers, but it's pretty simple and a lot of fun. First, you need a parking space to set up your party. Ensure to arrive early to snag the best spot. Bring food and drinks, a grill if you plan on cooking, and games for entertainment. Having the right equipment guarantees a great time for everyone!

    Essentials

    The essentials for a tailgate party are vital. As you prepare for your next tailgating event, make sure to refer to this checklist so you can notice everything necessary.

    • Food and beverages. They are pivotal, as they keep guests fueled and in good spirits. 
    • Portable chairs and tables. These provide a convenient setup for eating and socializing, making the party more organized.
    • Cooling equipment. A cooling device like a cooler for tailgating keeps your drinks chilled and refreshing, which is particularly important on hot days.

    BougeRV’s electric cooler for tailgating.png

    Grilling and Eating

    No tailgate party is complete without grilling. From burgers and hot dogs to ribs and kebabs, cooking out in the open is part of the fun. So remember to pack the essential grilling and eating items to fill your guests’ bellies.

    Friends chatting, grilling, and eating at tailgate parties

    • Portable grill. It allows you to cook up delicious food right in the parking lot, creating that unique atmosphere of camaraderie and fun. Portable grills come in various sizes and designs, so you'll find something that fits your needs and budget. Besides, you can choose from traditional charcoal grills for that smoky flavor or the convenient propane ones that are easier to set up and clean.

    • Charcoal or propane. Depending on your grill type, you’ll want to ensure you have plenty of charcoal or propane. Having extra on hand is always a good idea – the last thing you want is for your fuel to run out in the middle of cooking.

    • Grilling utensils. Remember to bring along grilling utensils. Tongs, spatulas, and forks are necessary for flipping and serving the food. A meat thermometer could also be useful, especially if you're cooking thick cuts of meat or poultry. A good oven mitt can protect your hands from the heat.

      • Disposable plates and napkins. When it comes to eating, convenience is critical at tailgate parties. This is why disposable plates and napkins are essential. They're light and easy to pack, and best of all, they eliminate the need to wash dishes afterward. Remember to bring enough for everyone, plus a little extra just in case more friends show up.

      • Condiments. Ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, relish, barbecue sauce, have them all ready to enhance the flavors of your grilled foods. Don't forget about seasonings like salt, pepper, and maybe some Cajun spice for those who like their food with a kick.

      Entertainment

      The goal of a tailgate party is to have fun before the big game, so entertainment is as important as the food and drinks. From tossing a football around to playing board games, the options for tailgate entertainment are endless. However, if you're looking to elevate your tailgating parties, here are a few things you might consider preparing:

      • Portable speaker & music. Bring a portable speaker to keep the party vibes going with your favorite music. Make sure it has a long battery life to last through the festivities. Bonus points if you put together a game-day playlist with your guests’ top tunes.

      • Karaoke. Looking to add a unique twist to your tailgate party? Consider incorporating a karaoke session. It opens the door for entertainment and is an excellent platform to reveal hidden talents among your guests. Plus, it's bound to create some hilarious and unforgettable moments! 

      • Games. Traditional options include tossing a football around, frisbee, or cornhole. If there's enough space, you could even set up a mini-tournament with different teams. For those who prefer less physical activities, consider board games, card games, or trivia. These games can be just as engaging and allow people to mingle.

      • Camera. Capture the fun of your tailgate party by taking lots of photos and videos. Use a camera to document all the memorable tailgate fun moments—people laughing, playing games, grilling, and enjoying the camaraderie. You can share these memories later on your social media channels. 

      • Canopy or shade device. Tailgate parties usually involve spending several hours outside, so it's essential to have some form of shade to protect against the sun. A canopy or shade device can provide relief, especially during hot afternoon games. Make sure it's easy to set up and take down for convenience. 

      Portable Power Source

      A reliable power source is essential for tailgate parties, ensuring that your electronic appliances, speakers, and grilling equipment can operate seamlessly. Here are two options that are real game-changers!

      • Portable power station. A portable power station provides convenient and sustainable electricity for tailgate parties. BougeRV offers arrays of the best portable power stations for tailgating. Whether you need a compact power station to charge your speakers, camera, and phone or prefer a high-wattage one capable of running multiple devices for up to 10 hours, we’ve got you covered. Take a look at our shop to explore more.

      BougeRV’s compact and solid portable power station for tailgating

      • A generator. A generator can be a reliable power source if you are hosting a larger tailgate and require more electricity. But, be mindful of noise pollution and follow any regulations set by the stadium or venue. Alternatively, you can get a BougeRV solar generator that neither releases noise nor emits white smoke.

      Extras

    • Wet weather gear
    • Even if the forecast looks clear, having wet weather gear on hand can be a game-changer. Consider packing waterproof table covers, ponchos, umbrellas, or even a pop-up canopy tent. These items will ensure that your party doesn't have to end even if a surprise shower hits.

    • Decor
    • Tailgating is about more than the food and games - it's about showing off your team spirit. This is where decor comes into play. Think banners, balloons, tablecloths, and even themed disposable plates and cups in your team's colors. Flags and pennants can also add a fun touch. Personalized or homemade signs supporting your team or favorite player can make your tailgate stand out and give it a unique flair.

      Sports fans in a huddle at a tailgate party

    • Insect repellent
    • The outdoors can bring a few uninvited guests to your tailgate party - bugs. So, bring some insect repellent to keep those pesky mosquitoes at bay. 

    • Sunscreen
    • If you're tailgating during daylight hours, sunscreen is another must-have item. A sunburn can quickly put a damper on your day, so keep SPF close at hand. Even on overcast days, UV rays can still cause burns.

      By including these extras in your tailgate kit, you'll ensure everyone remains comfortable and focused on the fun.

      Clean Up

      As the saying goes, "Leave no trace." Cleaning up after a tailgate party is significant to maintaining the integrity of the space and respecting the environment. Here are some clean-up tips to keep in mind:

      • Dispose of all trash properly using designated garbage bins or bringing your trash bags.
      • Ensure all flames are safely extinguished before leaving the area.
      • Pack away chairs, tables, and other equipment, leaving the space as you found it.

      Tailgating Legalities & Permissions

      Tailgating is generally allowed in most parking lots, but some venues may have specific rules about alcohol consumption, grilling, etc. It's always a good idea to check with the venue beforehand to avoid any misunderstanding on the event day. Here are a few considerations:

      • Get to know the ins and outs of the stadium or venue's policies. Some might need permits or have specific rules that must be followed.
      • Ensure you have the necessary parking passes or permits to park in designated tailgating areas.
      • Respect any noise restrictions, littering regulations, or alcohol policies that may be in place.
      • Be aware of open flame and fire regulations, and use grills safely and responsibly.

      Conclusion

      Tailgate parties are an exciting part of American sports culture, offering fans a unique opportunity to bond over their shared love for the game while enjoying delicious food and exhilarating fun. Whether you're a seasoned tailgater or a newbie, this guide will help you enjoy your next tailgate party to the fullest.

      Tailgate Parties FAQs

      1. What Is the Purpose of a Tailgate Party?

      The primary purpose of a tailgate party is to build excitement before the big game, create community among fans, and provide an enjoyable pre-game experience.

      1. What Happens at Tailgate Parties?

      At tailgate parties, people gather to eat, drink, play games, and bond over their shared passion for the team they're supporting.

      1. How Long Do Tailgate Parties Last?

      Tailgate parties typically start hours before the game and can last until kickoff. You can even continue the party during the game and long after it has ended.


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