Tailgating Hacks for Your Next Gameday Get-Together

Throw the ultimate tailgate and win the game before the game with these parking lot Pro Tips.

For some sports fans, having the perfect tailgating setup can be as fulfilling as a team victory on game day. Stellar food and drink options. A system that shouts ingenuity and functionality. Fun and entertainment from kickoff to postgame.

Having a premier tailgate setup can be accomplished by any fan. With a little planning, a slice of prep work and a dash of creativity, you can take your tailgate to the next level, too. Use these tailgating hacks to take your setup from the bush leagues to the big leagues.


A lot of fun and useful tailgating hacks can be used before you even get to the parking lot. The amount of preparatory work you can complete before game day can significantly enhance your tailgating experience.

When it comes to your favorite gameday eats, try and do as much food prep as possible. Skewer and marinate your kebabs the prior evening to save time and lock in plenty of flavor. Instead of bringing a mass of ground beef, press your hamburger patties out the night before. Place and separate the individual patties on wax paper for easy transfer from cooler to grill. Speaking of burgers, you can also prepare your toppings by slicing tomatoes, lettuce and cheese. Place everything in a ready-to-go serving tray and cover with plastic wrap.

For drinks, consider freezing water bottles and using them as extra ice blocks. As they thaw throughout the day, they can also serve as extra bottled water.

As far as prepping your tailgate supplies, there are plenty of tricks you can keep in your playbook. Pack a toolbox full of tailgate essentials. Include must-have items like:

  • Cooking utensils
  • Bottle opener
  • Matches
  • Extra skewers
  • Wet wipes
  • Extra table tennis balls
  • Flashlight
  • Pliers
  • Screwdriver
  • Sunscreen/Bug Spray

BONUS PRO TIP: For cold-weather games, be sure to toss in a few extra pairs of hand warmers.

Your toolbox can be great for more hands-on accessories. You can also benefit from packing a plastic container for paper products and serving supplies.

“Utilize one bin with all the essentials like plates, bowls, trays for the snacks,” DICK’S Sporting Goods Associate Derek Khazraie says. “Clean out the bin each week and refresh and replenish for the next game.”

You can also make for an easy cleanup by packing an empty plastic container for your used plates and refuse. Other essential supplies include a small med kit, jumper cables and hand sanitizer.

One final prep tip for your tailgate is going through your supply list and making sure you have extras. “Extra [tennis table] balls, extra cups, extra drinks, extra snacks,” tailgate enthusiast Dave Duke says. “Once you’re in the middle of a parking lot somewhere, there’s no store next door to restock the party. Come prepared so you can have fun with everyone else.”


When game day comes and you’ve prepared everything correctly, your next hurdle lies in packing the car. Creating a map of where everything goes in your vehicle can be extremely helpful. From here, you can efficiently and effectively unpack your vehicle once you arrive. Your map can also be useful during your tailgate breakdown. Knowing where your canopy, grill, coolers and totes go can save time and potential headaches. You can confidently restack your items for a safe and secure trip home.

There are a few other tailgate tips to put a creative twist on your pregame process:

  • Use old six pack holders to easily store and tote your condiments.
  • Label your coolers to help preserve ice and limit time spent with the lid open.
  • Use pop-up laundry hampers as makeshift trash and recycling bins.
  • Hang your paper towel roll from your canopy frame using a bungee cord.


Food prep is not the only trick play you can use at your next tailgate. When it comes to your gameday cuisine, look to offer handheld, easy-to-eat options. Burgers, hot dogs or walking tacos can be great choices for feeding hungry patrons. If you’re cooking on-site, be sure to have dips, chips and other snacks. These can help curb any unruly appetites until your tailgate’s main course.

Preparing a menu can also be a great tailgating hack to add to your routine. This can be especially useful when hosting a large crowd of fellow fans, according to Khazraie.

Want to add some fandom flair to your food? Try color coding your next tailgate to match your favorite team’s colors.


With so many components to tailgating, it’s important to remember the original reason for getting together: cheering on your team. There are plenty of tips to make sure you’re showcasing your team spirit from start to finish.

Show your fandom on multiple fronts. Don your favorite jersey to represent your squad with pride. Find out which jersey type fits your style best with this Pro Tips guide to authentic and replica jerseys. You can also spice things up with an eye-catching face paint design. Whether rooting for your favorite football, baseball, basketball or soccer team, there are plenty of face paint ideas for you. Lastly, pull an audio audible and incorporate your team’s fight song or anthem into your playlist.

Curating a great tailgate can be a fun experience for everyone in attendance. Score points with your friends and neighboring fans this season by using these tailgating hacks at your next gathering.