When I’m mourning the last lingering days of Indian summer, there is only one thing that can comfort me: good old-fashioned college game day. As a proud member of the Cal Dance Team, I follow my alma mater’s football team with thirsty anticipation. With three wins under our belt, a solid (and cute!) quarterback, and a #24 ranking on the BCS, it’s looking like it might be a good year for the Golden Bears! Whatever your mascot may be, there’s no time better than the present to plan a spirited tailgate. The season is fresh, so there’s still plenty of promise and hope for wins—plus the weather isn’t too cold yet. Gather up your crew and head to your favorite NCAA or NFL stadium with some brews and delicious eats. Wondering what to pack? Here’s everything you need, car tailgate not included, to host the ultimate pre-football party.
A supersize cooler is necessary to pack plenty of beer and all of the tasty tailgate snacks. Be sure to store the food in waterproof containers like Tupperware, or pack the food in one cooler with frozen blue ice packs, and store the beverages in another cooler with bags of real ice.
Rubbermaid 50 Qt 5-Day Wheeled Cooler ($41)
You don’t want to end up in a parking lot miles away where no one else is tailgating, so be sure to head to your tailgate destination several hours before kickoff. If it’s a big game day, the parking lot will fill up more quickly—plan accordingly. Once you’ve arrived, take the time to set up a proper party. Cover a folding table with a whimsical tablecloth, put out a vase with sunflowers, and tie a few balloons to your car’s hood.
Office Star Products 4-ft. Folding Table ($83)
Intrepid International Gingham Checkered Tablecloth, Blue ($56)
A small, portable gas grill is ideal for game-day tailgates as you don’t have to worry about charcoal, lighter fluid, and paper.
Weber Go-Anywhere Gas Grill ($60)
Finger food is messy, so don’t forget to pack plenty of napkins! If you’re feeling super festive, purchase napkins with your team’s name printed on them from the local party supply store.
Oriental Trading White Luncheon Napkins ($4)
After a long day of football, you won’t want to deal with bringing a bunch of dirty dishes home, so fill your car with portable plates and compostable utensils. Solo cups, a crucial element of playing the tailgate game flip cup, come in all sorts of colors, so if the traditional red is your rival team’s shade, seek out the correct color to support yours.
Solo Party Cups, Blue 9 oz. 50 ct. ($6)
Sit back in a comfortable folding chair and enjoy your chili with all of the fixings.
Picnic Time Sports Folding Chair ($94)
Games are essential to a successful tailgate, so get your hands on a beer pong table stat! Host a tournament and play a couple of rounds of flip cup. Get everyone involved by playing boys versus girls, old people versus young people, or hosting team versus visiting team. Packing a football for a little catch is also a great idea.
GoPong 8-Foot Portable Beer Pong/Tailgate Tables ($73)
Opening photo: Hector Sanchez
What's on your agenda for the ultimate tailgate?