Tailgate equipment essentials depend on the size and style tailgate party you are planning. Some tailgates are very simple and some are so unbelievably elaborate that you would be amazed. This list of equipment you might need will help prod your thinking so you won’t leave anything at home by mistake.
Tailgating is always more fun when you and your invited guests are comfortable—that’s where the right equipment can make all the difference. You don’t need all of the following to have a successful tailgate—select the items you feel would be essential for your particular needs.
Remember that many of these items might be borrowed from friends if you only tailgate occasionally. Take what you feel comfortable hauling around. Remember, everything that comes out of the vehicle must be packed back in it at the end of the day.
Car, Truck or Van—you need to know what vehicle(s) you will be driving to the game to ensure you will have room to bring all the other equipment you might choose to take. You have to get the equipment to the lot in order to have a tailgate
Tents & Canopies —rain or shine, tailgate parties are always subject to Mother Nature’s whims. With an adequate tailgate tent, you can give your guests a way to get out of the hot sun, or stay dry when it rains. Make sure the one you get is easy to put up, take down and pack
Large Beach Umbrellas—for shading your party food or your guests, an umbrella is helpful. Be certain that you have an umbrella stand so it will stand up in a parking lot if your tailgate is not on a grassy area
Tailgate Chairs—there aren’t many other tailgating supplies that are more important than chairs. A tailgate is designed to be a relaxing way to kick back and enjoy the pre-game festivities; therefore, portable folding chairs are a must.
Folding Tables—whether for food or for games, folding tables serve a very important purpose at all tailgates. Where else are you going to put your food and drink? Tray tables or an ironing board all can be transported flat and provide flat surfaces for your party food.
Flat-Top Coolers—the hard-side coolers in which you transport your ice, drinks and other food can also be used as small tables during your tailgate party.
Decorative Accessories—if you are into making an impression with your tailgate, you can bring all manner of decorations to brighten and personalize your party space.
Rugs/Outdoor Carpet—this can be used to define your party space and can be in your team colors
Team Spirit/Theme Decorations—team/sport paraphernalia like mascots, pennants, tablecloths, centerpieces, inflatables, and decorations as desired
Flags/Banners and Flag Poles—what better way to show your true team pride than by flying your team’s flag high atop a portable flagpole? The telescoping flagpoles are also perfect for creating a landmark for your tailgate among a sea of other tailgaters. Banners will also let you decorate your tailgate party with your team’s colors!
Flag Pole Mount—don’t forget a mount for your flagpole…how else will the flagpole stand straight?
Entertainment—you and your guests will be at your tailgate site for several hours so a little entertainment to accompany your meal would be a welcome addition.
Games—what you bring along is up to you—ladder golf, washers, horseshoes, Nerf football, cards
Television/Radio/Stereo System—if you want to watch or listen to the pre-game coverage. Hearing the latest stats, who’s on the disabled list, and who’s coming back is huge on game day.
Children’s Activities—if you have (or have invited) little ones, bring along toys or games that will keep them engaged during the course of the tailgate
Coolers—you need at least two—one for your ice, drinks and ready-to-eat food and one for your raw meat
Insulated Jugs for cold drinks
Insulated Carafes for hot drinks
Insulated Totes—can be less bulky and be more easily packed in a crowded car
Grill(s)—true tailgaters insist that the party is only a picnic without hot grilled masterpieces. The types of grills available to your master chef are many—small tabletop styles or hibachis, medium or large kettle styles all the way up to elaborate gas-powered “supergrills.”
Fuel for Grill—charcoal, charcoal alternative, lighter fluid, propane
Large jug of water— to put out the hot coals when you get ready to leave
Cooking Utensils and Hot Mitts
Knives and Cutting Boards
Griddles/Skillets/Pots and Pans
Cooking Supplies—aluminum foil, salt and pepper, marinades, sauces
Additional Kitchen Appliances—when your griller decides to become an advanced grill master, you might want to add more cooking appliances to outfit a complete outdoor kitchen
Crockpots/ Electric Cookers
Hot Water Heater
Portable Coffee Maker
Mats—to ease the griller’s leg muscles while standing on the hard parking lot surface cooking for long hours
Drink Accessories–not only can you turn your tailgate into an outdoor kitchen, but you can also equip your tailgate party with an outdoor bar! Check with the stadium and inquire about its rules regarding alcohol consumption in the parking lot.
Bar Utensils (Shakers, strainers)
Thermos/Hot Beverage Containers
Partyware—you can go as elaborate or as casual as you like—you can use paper, plastic, melamine or even real china (with careful transporting). You can color coordinate your partyware to your team colors.
Tablecloths—paper, plastic, vinyl or fabric
Plates, Cups, and Napkins
Cutlery and Serving Utensils—real or disposable
Serving Platters, Plates and Bowls—plastic, melamine, aluminum pans
Trays—wood, metal, acrylic or plastic
Trashbags/ Portable Trashcans—have a separate one for recyclables if your party is large
Disposable Disinfectant Cleaning Wipes
Zippered Plastic Storage Bags
Paper towels/ Cloth dish towels
Generators/Power Supplies —if you plan on bringing any appliances or equipment that require power, you’ll need a portable generator. These power supplies allow you to really turn your tailgate into an outdoor living room!
Power Strip/Surge Protector—so you can power more than one thing at a time
Extension Cords —outdoor extension cords gives you be more flexible with your setup.
Gasoline —you’ll need extra gas if you’re using a gas-powered generator.
Heaters—if you’re tailgating in a notoriously cold location,
Portable Propane Heater and extra propane tank
Portable fire pit with plenty of wood
Wind Screen—if you like to tailgate, but hate the wind, try a wind screen to keep the wind out.
Blankets—these are useful for guests’ comfort on cold days at the tailgate as well as at the game.
Sunscreen and Bug Repellent–for a more comfortable day and trip home
First Aid Kit—be sure to have painkiller, antiseptic and bandages for cuts, burn spray, sunburn spray, anti-itch lotion for bug bites, stretch bandages for sprains, anti-diarrhea medicine, and indigestion medicine.
Tool Kit—tool kits are one of the most necessary, yet often forgotten, tailgating essentials! Whether you’re repairing something or building a new tailgate item, the benefits of having a toolkit are endless.
Duct tape—its uses are only limited by your imagination
Jumper Cables—just in case your car or truck won’t start when it’s time to go home!
Lights/Lanterns—if you plan on having a tailgate that extends into the night, you’ll need a way to see what you’re doing!
Lanterns—battery-operated camp lanterns
Candles—battery-operated candles (regular candles would be a safety concern)
Flashlights—these will also help you find your way to the portable potties.
Decorative Automotive Accessories car mats, hitch covers, license plates, tailgate seats, headrest covers…. you can find many ways to turn your car/truck into a fan-mobile!
Portable Toilets—portable privacy camp toilets are available, but be aware you have to deal with appropriate disposal at the stadium parking lot.
Toilet Paper—it never hurts to take this along
Batteries—make sure you have them for your lanterns, flashlights, boom-boxes, or any other battery-operated equipment
YOUR TICKETS TO THE GAME