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How to Throw the Ultimate Tailgate Party: 10 Tips for Success

Are you ready for some football? Learn how to throw the best tailgate party with these simple tips.

Are you ready to take your love for sports, food, and camaraderie to the next level? There’s no better way to do it than by throwing a tailgate party!

Whether you are celebrating at the stadium or throwing a tailgating party with friends at the park, this post has you covered.

In this guide, we’ll chat about everything you need to know to host the ultimate tailgate extravaganza.

Learn how to throw the best tailgating party with these simple tips.

(Posts on stacyling.com may contain affiliate links. Click HERE for full disclosure.)

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Tailgating Party Theme for Supper Club

We’ve been having a great time with our supper club and this month we are celebrating all things sports with a fun tailgate party with lots of entertaining, table decorating, and tailgating menu.

In case you are new here, I’m Stacy, a self-taught master gardener who lives and gardens in northern New Jersey, zone 6a.

We recently moved to a beautiful 1850 Farmhouse with 10 acres of gardens, sculptures and statues.

I’ve been gardening for over 20 years and enjoy helping beginner gardeners find their inner green thumb, as well as discover a love for all things plants and flowers. I love to bring the outdoors inside my home too.

I hope you enjoy visiting my home today and hope you come back so we can grow stuff and create beautiful spaces together.

stacy ling with her husband at a New York Giants football game at Giants Stadium.

What is a Tailgate Party?

In general, tailgating is a fun social event where you celebrate around the open tailgate of a vehicle for a sporting or concert event.

However, you don’t have to do it around an open tail gate anymore because it’s used more loosely when we bring friends and family together to watch an athletic game with a bunch of food and beverages.

Most tailgate parties are in a stadium lot, but you can also throw one on the block, in your backyard, or at your home.

Setting up a tailgate party in front of a ford raptor with camp chairs, folding table and yeti cooler -Throw the Best Tailgating Party
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What Should I Expect at a Typical Tailgate Party?

Tailgating provides attendees with lots of food and cocktails to fuel up before the big game or concert.

Tailgate parties are a lot of fun with games like cornhole, beer pong, and frisbee. If you’ve never been to one before, it’s a fun way to gather with close friends and family celebrating your favorite team or getting psyched up for a good concert.

If there to watch a game, be sure to wear your favorite team’s colors whether it’s a jersey, tee shirt, or take on the brand.

Some attendees go all out for a good tailgate party and you will want to join in the fun!

blogger stacy ling with her husband christopher d ling aia at Ohio State Game

Steps to Throwing the Best Tailgating Party Ever

If you are throwing a tailgating party, follow these simple tips for hosting an unforgettable and successful event.

Plan It Out

For starters, make a plan. If you are hosting a tailgate party at a venue, know their requirements and policies BEFORE you go.

Determine the menu and divvy up what to bring among the guests so you aren’t in charge of doing everything.

And make a list of all the items you’ll need for the tailgate party. I’ll share more on what to bring below.

blogger stacy ling with her husband christopher d ling aia and her daughter shana ling at ohio state

Choose the Perfect Location

Selecting the right location is the first step to a successful tailgate party. Consider these factors if you are celebrating at the stadium:

  • Proximity to the Game: The ideal spot should be as close to the game venue as possible for easy access.
  • Parking Regulations: Make sure you’re aware of any parking rules and permits needed.
  • Space: Ensure you have enough space to accommodate your guests, vehicles, and all your tailgating gear.

Plan Your Guest List

Determine how many people you want to invite. Tailgate parties are all about good company, so invite friends, family, and fellow fans. Make sure to get RSVPs to help with food and drink planning.

If you are tailgating at the stadium, make sure everyone has plans or tickets to go to the game and divvy up the tailgate party essentials so you aren’t bringing every single item.

vintage toolbox centerpiece idea for a tailgate party on a blue checkered tablecloth -Throw the Best Tailgating Party
Throw the Best Tailgating Party

Pick Easy Tailgate Food Ideas

Choose tailgate food that’s finger food friendly, easy to prepare, and if possible, can be made ahead of time.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be having fun than worrying about making stuff while entertaining guests.

And be sure to bring some extra snacks like chips and dip or kettle corn to keep everyone satisfied during the big game.

Tasty food is a critical element of any tailgate party. Plan a menu that’s easy to prepare and eat on the go. Here are some great tailgating food ideas:

  • Classic Grillables: Burgers, hot dogs, sausages, and chicken wings are all-time favorites.
  • Sides: Chips, dip, potato salad, coleslaw, and baked beans complement the main dishes.
  • Tailgate Appetizers: Prepare easy-to-eat finger foods like sliders, nachos, bruschetta, and chicken skewers.
  • Desserts: Sweet treats like brownies, cookies, and fruit are perfect for satisfying post-game cravings.
  • Beverages: Stock up on a variety of drinks, including water, soda, and adult beverages (if appropriate).
close up of football with open yeti cooler for tailgating party -Throw the Best Tailgating Party

Make a List of What You Need: Tailgating Ideas

From folding tables to tablecloths, the portable grill to grilling accessories, and all the other table decor items you’ll need for the big event, MAKE A LIST well ahead of time so you make sure you have it all.

Whenever I make a list for anything, I start it well ahead of time so I have time to think of everything.

There are so many great tailgating ideas to consider before packing up your car or truck.

Are you grilling? Bring a portable grill like THIS and all of the grilling accessories.

Portable Grill

Grill Accessories

How will you keep food and beverages cold?

Bring a cooler like THIS. As an aside, we are huge Yeti fans here. I know they can be a little pricey, but they can keep food and beverages cold for DAYS!

It’s a great thing to have at home, particularly if you have an extended power outage like we did during Superstorm Sandy. We were out of power for two weeks and that cooler kept food cold for a LONG TIME.

Yeti Cooler

stacy ling and her family at ohio state v youngstown football game

Don’t forget to bring some seating because it’s no fun to stand around for several hours and you’ll want something to sit in.

Camping Chairs

I love these camping chairs. We’ve had them for several years. They even have cooler pockets.

Pop Up Tent

If you host a tailgate party, you definitely want a pop-up tent LIKE THIS ONE. Not only will it keep you cool on a hot day, but it will protect you from inclement weather AND help define your party space.

Is it going to be cool weather? Bring a team blanket LIKE THIS ONE. There are lots of different teams you can choose from too.

NCAA Team Blanket

NFL Team Blanket

If it looks like rain, pack some umbrellas, ponchos, and other foul weather gear items.

To pass the downtime, bring some games like cornhole. And of course, a football to toss around!



close up of centerpiece idea in vintage toolbox with NFL NY Giants team colors -Throw the Best Tailgating Party

Entertainment and Games

Keep the energy up with some fun and games:

  • Tailgating Games: Cornhole, ladder toss, and frisbee are great options.
  • Music: Create a tailgate playlist with your favorite tunes.
  • TV Setup: Bring a portable TV to catch pre-game analysis or other games.

Team Spirit and Decorations

Show your team spirit with decorations, flags, and banners. Consider dressing up in team colors and jerseys to get everyone in the game-day mood.

Safety First

Ensure the safety of your guests by following these guidelines:

  • Fire Safety: Be cautious when using grills, and keep a fire extinguisher on hand.
  • Alcohol Responsibility: If alcohol is part of your tailgate, designate a responsible driver.
  • Hydration: Provide plenty of water to keep everyone hydrated.
close up of camping chair for tailgating party

Pack the Accessories

From that amazing list, pack it all the night before the big game.

Here are some things you may need for your next tailgate party:

Arrive Early to Claim Your Spot

When throwing a tailgating party, timing is everything. Designate some friends to arrive early with you to secure the best spots together.


Don’t forget to clean up after the party. Leave the tailgate area as you found it, and be sure to properly dispose of trash and recycling.

close up of dining table centerpiece idea for tailgate party with football and flowers

Tailgating Party Decorating Ideas

For this tailgate recipe supper club, it’s more about mobility than it is about sitting down at a table for a meal.

Since we are focusing on finger foods, I’ve decided to decorate my table with a “team color” tablecloth and a centerpiece.

Cause you know I love a good centerpiece!

We are HUGE NY Giants fans in my house, so for this tailgating party, it’s all about the red, white and blue.

I started with a blue and white buffalo check tablecloth LIKE THIS ONE that is draped over a folding table.

I made a quick centerpiece that is easy to move around with this vintage toolbox, some faux greens, faux red roses, peonies, and a football of course.

If your favorite team colors are different, swap out the blooms and tablecloth for the colors that best represent your team.

And that’s it!!!

Have fun at your tailgate party!

Stacy Ling and her husband Crhristopher D. Ling at the NY Giants vs. Colts Game after the win

More About Throwing a Tailgate Party

Have you been to any tailgate parties yet this year? Will you host one? I would love to know more in the comments below.

And don’t miss joining my Gardening DIY and Decorating Community on Facebook for more chatter. And follow along there and on Instagram as well. There are behind-the-scenes daily things that I share on Instagram that don’t make it to the blog. Would love to see you there too!

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Follow the Rest of the Tailgate Party Dinner Group Tour

My friends have some amazing tips, tricks, and tailgating party ideas that you’ve got to see!

So be sure to check each one out by clicking on the photo with blog name below.

Looking for More Supper Club Ideas?

Our supper club has been so much fun and we’ve covered so much over the last year.

Whether you are in a supper club or just want some dinner party theme inspiration, check out the themes we’ve hosted before.

And click here if you want to learn how to organize and host your own supper club,

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close up of centerpiece for NY Giants inspired tailgate party
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7 ways to throw a tailgate party

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  4. I love your pretty tailgate setup, Stacy. And the list of what you need is such a great idea, and so practical. Pinned!

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