Tailgating is an art form in the South, and each week, we’re bringing you tailgating tips to help you take your “game around the game” to another level.
This week, we’re looking at essential items that every tailgate needs if, you know, the tailgate is going to be legitimate. Also, since tailgate food is basically its own category, this list will be limited to items outside the culinary zone.
Let’s dive into our list.
1. Cooler and beer
What’s your cooler look like? Have you purchased a new one in the last decade? Is it big enough? Does it keep your beer cold all day long? Pro tip: Keep two coolers, one for food and one for drinks so that you’re mindful of food safety and cross contamination issues.
Of course, we recommend stocking your cooler with Bud Light, America’s Favorite Beer. Nothing beats a cold Bud Light at your tailgate before the big game.
Tailgate games are key especially if you have late kickoff. You need competitive fun to help occupy the time while you’re enjoying friends and family at the tailgate. Cornhole is likely the most popular tailgate game today, but ladder ball is also quite common. Don’t have the room in your car for either of these? Bring a football instead and do your best Chad Kelly impression.
School spirit is an important element for your tailgate setup. Raising your school logo and colors high into the sky is a great way to make it known which team you support. Pro tip: It’s also helpful for having people find your tailgate.
If you don’t want to carry around a flagpole to raise your banner into the sky, flags for your vehicle can also serve the same purpose and are quite compact.
If you’re an Ole Miss fan, decorations might mean fancy carpets and chandeliers, but for the rest of us, decorations can be simple tablecloths and team-based memorabilia. If you’re 30-years old and above, it’s time to spruce up your tailgate a bit. Add some class and make the tailgate feel like home.
5. Thoughtful seating
A big element of successful tailgating is making it a highly sustainable atmosphere (sustainable for the human body!). If you’re tailgating for 12 hours each Saturday for six or seven weekends in the fall, you need seating. Lots of it.
Folding chairs are fine. Bring lots of them. But consider other forms of seating as well. What happens when guests come by? Do they have somewhere to sit? Remember that large coolers can double as impromptu seating.
6. Music / Playlist
Nothing sets the atmosphere like some lively tunes playing in the background. Mobile phone technology paired with bluetooth speakers has made having thousands of songs available all day long at your tailgate super easy. Make sure the bluetooth speaker you choose can be loud enough for outdoor use.
Consider battery of both your mobile phone and your speaker setup as well, as running out of tunes just as you’re starting to get amped for kickoff is a big no-no.
7. Tenting and shade
If you’ve tailgating in September, you know it’s hot out there. Another element of sustainable tailgating is to make sure you can be in the shade when it’s needed. This also becomes increasingly important if you have little ones running around.
Standard tailgate tents can be found at all kinds of retailers as well as online. Find one with your team logo on it with sound reviews. Pro tip: Consider ways to anchor down your tent (more than just the standard stakes that come with them) for afternoons with gusty winds. If you’ve ever chased down a tent getting blown around by the wind, you know it’s not fun. At a minimum, bring a few plastic bags from the grocery store that can be filled with sand or dirt and tied to the tent polls during days with questionable weather.
Bonus: TV with satellite hookup
Simply put, big time tailgaters can watch football at their tailgate. One of the great things about Saturdays in the fall is how you can watch great games from noon until late at night. If you can combine the tailgate scene with the ability to catch the other games around the country, then you’ve got yourself one heck of a Saturday.
To pull it off, typically you need three things: A TV, a satellite dish and a generator to power everything. Thankfully, all of the above have become less expensive in recent years. Moreover, there are other ways of pulling in television via the internet today, so you might be able to get by without a satellite dish and account (however, be careful that you’re not annihilating your cellular data plan).
However you set it up, getting football on a TV at your tailgate will take any tailgate from good to great.