How to Plan the Best Tailgate

Cooler fall weather doesn't just mean sweaters and hot cider… it also means that it’s football season! And, of course, our favorite part about football season is tailgating. A tailgate is a fun and effective way to ring in a new season and cheer on your favorite team while at it. 

Tailgates are known for good food and fun atmospheres that get you and your guests excited for a fun night of football. If you’re in charge of hosting the tailgates this football season, we have compiled this list on how to throw the best one. From burgers to brews, we’ve got you covered.

The Basics of Tailgating

When looking into throwing a tailgating party, it is always a good option to plan ahead and prepare. Make sure you have everything you need from grills to folding chairs—no table should be left unturned. Get a tally of how many people are coming and how long you are going to tailgate. We recommend you go two hours before the game starts, but it’s totally up to you. 

It’s also important to check ahead to see if the venue you are tailgating at has any specific rules regarding food or alcohol.  Once you get the all-clear, go ahead and plan out your menu. It'll save you a headache later, and you’ll know that you’re going to be throwing a banging party. 

Aim to prepare as much food as you can before you get to the venue. Lots of typical tailgate food can be prepared beforehand and then reheated on a portable grill after the fact, which will save you the stress of trying to cook and enjoy yourself at the same time. 

A portable grill is not only an easy way to cook your food on the go but a great way to show off your grill-master skills from anywhere. When it comes to the menu, aim to keep your menu simple but accessible and communicate with your guests about any dietary needs or concerns.

The Best Food to Have at a Tailgate

You can't have a good tailgate without good food.  Not sure what to bring or make? Just stick to the food pyramid—and then some. Whatever you decide to eat doesn’t need to be fancy or expensive. Have guests bring something small to make it easier on you, but you should provide the main foods if you are hosting. 

Much like a tailgate is the pre-event to a game, it’s always a good idea to have an opener to your main food event—aka an appetizer. Including shareable options helps set the pregame mood and keeps guests satisfied throughout the day. 

Here are some easy and fun options for your delicious tailgate! 

Yummy Appetizers

Get the party started with some fun appetizers to keep your guests fed and happy. Appetizers are a great way to not only break the ice between guests but to hold everyone over until the main event. 

Chips and dip are a safe and easy option for any event, but they’re especially welcome at a tailgate. Stock up on potato chips, corn chips, and maybe a few flavored options so that everyone has something to snack on. Store-bought queso, salsa, or spinach dip is almost always a win for both your budget and your party.

If you are feeling like a chef and want to go that extra mile, homemade options like cheeseburger or jalapeno dip can really add an extra pop of flavor and spice up your event. All you have to do is grab some corn tortilla chips, and you’ve got yourself a quick and easy appetizer. 

Here are some of our favorite easy homemade dips that will be a touchdown at your next tailgate! 

A Solid Main Course

When it comes to the main course, solid protein options will keep your guests energized and excited about the game and the party. Again, keeping things simple is your best bet. Bring a portable grill and some tongs, and you’re set. 

You don’t have to be a master chef to make some pretty darn good game-day food. There are lots of quick, easy recipes that also happen to be delicious. Most people tend to stay in the range of comfort food for tailgates and game days, and you don’t have to break the bank making them. 

Here are some easy, user-friendly options that you don’t need to be a chef or grill master to make:

    • Burgers: Sub a vegetarian patty for our plant-based friends. 
    • Hot dogs: These are easily grillable, or you can cook them beforehand. 
    • Meatballs: You’ll have to make these ahead, but meatballs are a great grab-and-go option for the guest who likes to float from group to group. They can serve themselves and grab as many that they would like.  
    • Loaded Nachos: You can easily customize these with your favorite toppings: beef, cheese, beans, veggies, salsa, and more. Guests will love scooping up the perfect chip.  
    • Grilled Kebobs: Looking for an entree on the lighter, healthier side? Slice up some peppers and onions and pair them with a protein on the grill. This option is packed full of flavor and can easily be made vegetarian.  

Bottom line, anything shareable that travels well is the best choice for a tailgate or event. We suggest preparing as much as you and your guests can the night beforehand so you all can just enjoy the game and the festivities the day of your event. 

Cooler Hacks

Where there's good food, there have to be good drinks too. Tailgates are generally outside, so whether the heat is sweltering or it’s getting cold out, you want to make sure your guests stay hydrated. Make sure you have non-alcoholic options as well alcoholic ones—soft drinks and water are a must. 

A pro-tip to throwing the best tailgate is to learn how to pack a cooler. It may seem like an easy step to skip, but a cold drink can really help your guests feel at ease in the heat. Here are some tips and tricks for packing a cooler. 

Packing Your Cooler 

The best way to pack a cooler is simple. Drinks go on the bottom, a layer of bagged ice over that, and leave little to no room for air. This is a sure way to keep your food fresh and your drinks ice cold. 

After you have your cooler prepped and ready, it’s time for the drinks. One easy way to pack your cooler is to have premade drinks ready to go by the time of the tailgate, rather than worrying about mixing cocktails. The easiest way to get that done is none other than our mimosas—which are especially perfect for a morning tailgate. 

We pride ourselves on being accessible, convenient, and delicious. All your guests will have to do is grab a can from the cooler—no clean-up to worry about afterwards! Plus, they taste pretty great, too, whether you choose a fall-inspired Cranberry Mimosa or a Classic Mimosa.  

When you’re throwing a tailgate, there are a lot of moving parts to take care of. Let us take care of part of it for you… so you can sit back and relax with the rest of your guests and enjoy a drink! 

The Tail End of the Tailgate

Planning an awesome tailgate may seem stressful at first, but with the right ingredients and some proper planning, it’s an easy process with a rewarding end. Coming prepared with game-day snacks and drinks can truly make or break your tailgate. 

Having food made beforehand and some Ohza Mimosas packed up in a ready-to-go lightweight cooler is crucial to having a tailgate that will get anyone excited for game season. All of these items and extra planning are sure to make your next tailgate a real touchdown for you and your guests. 

Sources:

The various benefits of portable BBQ grills | Top 10 Consumer  

How to Pack a Cooler like a Pro | Fresh Off The Grid 

Seven Layer Taco Dip Recipe | All Recipes 

Dill Dip Recipe: How to Make It | Taste of Home

Buffalo Chicken Dip | Call Me PMC

Classic Hummus | Food Network

10 Tips for Hosting a Winning Tailgate Party | HGTV

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