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Tailgating Essentials: What to Bring For The Perfect Tailgate

tailgating essentials

Tailgating is an iconic American activity that people love to take part in. Getting ready for the big game by setting up an area outside the stadium with grills, food, drinks and games for your friends to enjoy is an experience that people love. If you're going to be tailgating soon, you should put together a tailgate checklist to make sure that you have everything that you need.


The Perfect Tailgate

If you're new to tailgating or have never taken on the planning role for a tailgate, you'll need to know what goes into hosting the perfect tailgate party. To throw the perfect tailgate, you can set yourself up for success by ensuring that you've brought all the tailgating essentials.


Tailgating for Beginners: What to Bring

what to bring to a tailgate

As you set yourself up for the perfect tailgate, you'll need to have the right resources to make the event as enjoyable and comfortable as possible:

  • Food: Besides the actual game, the food you eat at a tailgate is one of the biggest attractions. For many, burgers and hot dogs are staples of the tailgating experience. However, if you'd rather go with something else, there are no rules for what food you can bring. Want a kale salad? Go ahead and bring it.
  • Condiments: You'll want to complement your burgers with condiments. Some mayo, ketchup, relish and mustard can take a hotdog or burger to the next level. Take your condiments of choice with you to the game to enhance the taste of your food.
  • Drinks: Before the game starts, you'll want to stay hydrated. Bringing your choice of drinks will make for a refreshing addition and keep you feeling ready for the game. If you want to be the most popular person at the tailgate, bring a full cooler of ice-cold drinks that you can share with others.
  • Coolers and ice: Keeping your drinks and certain foods cold throughout the day, especially if it's a hot day, is critical for a pleasant experience while you wait for the game to start. By keeping your food in coolers, you'll prevent it from spoiling. Plus, there's nothing better than an ice-cold drink on a hot day, so drinks on ice are a must.
  • Grill: Grilling is a staple of tailgating, so you'll need to bring a portable grill with you to the game. You can throw on your burgers, hot dogs, veggies or whatever else you like to eat on the grill and keep everyone in your group well fed. Don't forget to bring grill tools, a grill mitt, propane or charcoal, lighter fluid, a lighter and whatever other materials your grill requires.
  • Disposable dining materials: After you finish grilling, you'll want to have something for your group to put their freshly made burger on. To accomplish this, you should bring plenty of disposable plates. Additionally, you should also have disposable utensils and cups available for everyone at your tailgate party. These sorts of materials will be convenient for all and make for fast cleanup.
  • Team gear: Show your support for the team and connect with other loyal fans by wearing your team's gear. Donning a jersey, shirt, hat or other apparel with your team's logo on it will display your passion for the team and raise your team spirit.
  • Flags: To add to your team spirit, you can bring a flag along with you to display your team's logo from a pole on your car. At a home game, a flag shows that the stadium is your house, while at an away game, a flag will make a statement that you aren't intimidated.
  • Rain gear: If there's a chance of rain, bring some ponchos with you to cover yourself with while you wait for the stadium to open up. It's going to be a problem if you're soaking wet when the game starts, so you'll want to take some precautions to stay dry. You can also bring a canopy to have something to huddle under if the weather goes sour.
  • Wireless speaker: To up the ambiance, you can bring a speaker that you can play music on or use to listen to commentary about the upcoming game. Wireless speakers are easy to transport, and many have great sound quality.
  • Games: Bringing yard games to your tailgate can complete your perfect tailgate. As tailgating can often go longer than the game, you'll need to keep people entertained. While some people will be content with talking and eating, others, especially children, will need a little bit more not to get bored. Bringing an assortment of games will help you check the last box on your tailgate checklist.


Tailgate Games

Before the big game, a fun tailgate party will have smaller games to keep people entertained and energetic as they wait. Below are some of the best tailgate games to bring to your tailgate:


1. Bean Bag Toss

Many might know this game by the name of cornhole, as there's a debate about its proper name. Regardless of what you call it, bean bag toss is perfect for a tailgate as its easy to learn and play. You also only need two boards and two sets of bean bags to get a game going, making it easy to transport to tailgates as well.

There can be slight differences between cornhole boards and bean bag toss boards. A cornhole board will typically be made out of wood and have only one hole, while a bean bag toss board may have more than one hole and be made out of lighter materials. You won't find much difference between regular bean bags or cornhole bean bags, so either option is a fine choice regardless of if you're playing on a cornhole or bean bag toss board.

Regardless of which board you choose, the purpose of the game stays the same. Get the bean bag into the hole for points.


2. Spyderball

Sypder ball is a great tailgate game that's fun for players of all skill levels and ages. It requires two teams of two or three people each and has very simple rules.

To play the game, you stand around a net that's placed on the ground, and to begin, one person serves the ball downwards into the net. Then, the other team tries to return the serve by setting it to another player on their team who will then try to spike the ball into the net, trying to make it so that the other team can't return it.

A spyderball set will come with the net, a few balls and a bag to carry the balls in. As a set doesn't require many materials, it's easily transportable and perfect for taking to a tailgate, especially if space is tight. It can also be adjusted for difficulty, as spyderball sets will often come with at least one advanced ball and one beginner ball, varying in sizes. The advanced ball will be smaller than the beginner ball, making it harder to handle.

Spyderball vs. Spike Ball.

There's no difference between spyderball and spike ball in terms of gameplay. Spike ball is simply the older version of the game. Typically, a spike ball set is usually more expensive than the other options. While many like a spike ball set for their back yard, they prefer to take spyderball to a tailgate, as it's light and easy to transport, plus it doesn't break the bank.


3. Flag Football

Mimic the big game before it starts by playing a game of flag football. If you're playing in a concrete parking lot, you'll be glad for flags counting as tackles rather than playing it like the pros do. The flags for flag football are generally inexpensive and can make for a great addition to a friendly football game.

If you only have enough people for one team, you can meet your tailgate neighbors and see if they want to play against you. This sort of neighborly competition will help you get to know your fellow tailgaters and have a great time while you wait for the stadium to open.


4. Kan Jam

tailgating kan jam game

This game is easy to learn and transport to tailgating events, as it only requires a throwing disk and two goals. Kan Jam is a fast-paced flying disc game designed to be played 2-on-2.

The rules of the game are simple. You try to throw a disc towards a goal, while the other team tries to stop you and launch a counter-attack. You get a point each time you throw a disc into the goal, and an instant win occurs if you do so without any assistance from your teammate.

As the rules are so simple and the game is so quick, many people enjoy taking it to tailgates as a fun, casual game to play. Some people even will make a tournament out of it, seeing who can rise to the top of their large group.


5. Washer Toss

Washer toss is a game that can be played between teams or individuals. To play the game, you'll need sets of washers and two boxes that have a center cup inside them, which you can get with a complete set. Players will toss washers into the opposite box, gaining points for each time they get a washer into the box or the center cup.


6. Horseshoe Set

As horseshoes is a classic game, many people who come to your tailgate will know how to play it. You can play the game one-on-one or two-on-two. As long as there's some soft ground you can insert stakes into, you can play the game.

The game is usually played with four horseshoes—two for each player—that are then thrown at two stakes. Points are typically determined by either getting a "ringer" where the horseshoe is thrown directly onto the stake or when you get it within a certain distance or are touching the stake. Bringing a horseshoe set to the tailgate will be a solid choice, as its a game that people are already familiar with it.


7. Ladder Ball

Ladder ball or ladder toss is played with two ladders that are three feet tall and two feet wide that you throw six bolas at. The bola is a footlong cord that has a golf ball-sized ball attached at the end. The game is typically played between two players. Each gets three bolas that have a different color than the other set of three bolas.

Players then alternate shots on a ladder from a specific distance that you can decide on. Depending on which rung you hit with your bola, you'll make more points. Typically, the top rung will be worth three points, the middle is two points, and the bottom one is worth only one point. It's a fun game to play and can be picked up easily by casual players.


A Few Tailgate Tips

tailgate tips

Along with bringing along the right materials and having fun games for everyone to play, below are some tips to keep in mind as you prepare for the tailgate:

  • Check stadium regulations: Stadiums often have rules and regulations about the type of fuel allowed on their property. Some sport's facility will restrict open flame grills from being used on the premises, which means that wood pellets or charcoal will be a no go for a fuel source. Additionally, you can check for other regulations that might impact your plans.
  • Pack your cooler correctly: Start by placing your cans and bottle at the very bottom, with a layer of ice on top of them and along the edges of the cooler. Next, place food items in water-tight, re-usable containers on top of the ice and cover them with more ice. Finally, you can place any bagged items on top of the last layer of ice. Try to make the cooler full so that there isn't any room for warm air to sneak in.
  • Bring frozen water bottles: Freezing water bottles serves two purposes. For one, you have an ice source to keep your cooler cold at the beginning of the tailgating experience. While keeping things cool is great and all, it also will melt throughout the day and give you something to drink, meaning that after a day of being outside, you'll still have some ice-cold water refreshment.
  • Use identifying flags or balloons: If you're meeting other people at the tailgate, you'll want to help them find you. To do so, you can tie distinct flags or balloons off your vehicle, tent or canopy. With them in place, people will be able to find your group.
  • Grab a folding or pop-up hamper: If you don't want to bring one of your own trash cans or go buy one specifically for the game, you can try to use an easily transportable folding or pop-up laundry hamper instead. Trashbags fit well into the hampers and are a creative way to keep your trash in one place and under control.
  • Make a handwashing station: Encourage everyone to wash their hands by filling a large container with water and dish soap that people can rinse their hands in after eating.


Want to Add Some Games to Your Next Tailgate?

buy tailgate games

If some of the games listed previously seem interesting to you, and you want to make them a part of your perfect tailgating experience, check out your local SVSports store or look through our selection of tailgating essentials online.

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