There’s really no doubt that a great tailgate can be one of the most fun parts of the game season. In fact, many people end up looking more forward to these parking lot parties than they do the actual baseball or football games.
In addition, when you throw an amazing tailgate, even the game, concert, or event that people originally headed out to see will end up taking a backseat, making you feel like the greatest party thrower around and with good reason.
However, to throw a perfect tailgate party, being fully stocked up and prepared is an absolute necessity, and, while everyone has their own idea of what a great tailgate needs, there are a few basic essentials that every party will need to really keep things going.
Here are some of the essential items that you might not initially realize that you’ll need to buy if you’re hoping to throw an amazing tailgate party this year.
#1 Portable Grill and Charcoal
If your tailgate party is the main event, then your food should be the star player. Great food is absolutely essential to a quality tailgate, which means that you’ll need to have a place to cook it all. Grilled burgers and hot dogs are staples of quality tailgates and with good reason.
A portable grill is the best way to make sure that you’re able to get your food cooked and ready to share with as many people as possible quickly.
Typically, a charcoal grill will be your best option because it will be your most reliable heat source.
You can guarantee that you’ll be able to get things lit under any circumstances and can feel confident that your grill will stay hot for a good amount of time.
Just make sure that you keep your charcoal nice and dry before you head out so that you don’t run into any lighting difficulties once it’s time to get things started.
#2 Folding Prep Table
Often enough, people get so excited about eating all of the delicious food that they’re planning on that they forget the need for a place to put it all and prepare it.
However, this will be one of the most essential pieces of furniture that you bring. After all, you’re going to need somewhere to keep all of the food that everyone’s enjoying.
The last thing you want to deal with is people trying to grab the ketchup bottle or the macaroni salad out of the back of your car.
Make sure that you can have everything right up front and on display so that you don’t have to worry about unexpected guests rummaging around places they shouldn’t be.
#3 Utensils Toolbox
One of the biggest challenges that tailgate party throwers can find themselves facing is having to lug around a number of different utensils and tools with them to get things done right. In addition, losing even one of those utensils can end up having disastrous consequences when you’re in the middle of a massive parking lot with few other options.
Toolboxes are great ways to ensure that you keep everything right on hand and ready to go whenever you need it.
It will also help you keep all your tools completely organized so that you know exactly where to look when you need something that you weren’t necessarily expecting.
Use the biggest compartment in the box for larger tools like spatulas, tongs, and wooden skewers.
You can then use the middle compartment for things like trash bags, paper towels, wet-wipes, and masking tape for labelling.
Finally, use your bottom compartment to store all your condiments and sauces like ketchup, mustard, and hot sauce.
You can keep a little tailgate in a box right in your car or garage that’s ready to go at any moment.
#4 Cooking Utensils
Burning yourself in the middle of your own tailgate party is the best way to make sure that it ends quickly and on a low note. So, rather than trying to manage those burgers with your bare hands, make sure that you have the proper equipment to make it easier.
Some more equipment that you’re going to need to think about when you’re making up your list of essentials should be cooking utensils.
This will include things like spatulas to flip your burgers, serving spoons, barbeque tools, and even oven mitts.
That way, you can be sure that no matter what you’ve decided to serve at your party, you can do so safely while still being able to enjoy a few beers or cocktails of your own.
Along the same lines, aprons can be incredibly beneficial. Barbequing can be messy, especially when you throw drinking into the mix.
Having a quality apron and a spare can help guarantee that you don’t have to watch the rest of the game uncomfortable and covered in grease and sauce.
#5 Good Number of Coolers
Another one of the most important pieces of equipment that you’ll need will be coolers. Your coolers will be your main form of storage and refrigeration during your party, so making sure that you have enough of it will be the key to a great party.
Generally speaking, you’ll want to have at least three different coolers for your guests: one for food storage, one for beverages, and one for drinkable ice.
Another tip with your coolers will be to make sure that you load them up as far as you can with ice.
This way, you won’t have to worry about warm air sneaking in and melting your ice faster than you expected. In addition, make sure that you clearly label those coolers so that you don’t have any guests reaching into the meat storage cooler for ice to cool down their drink.
#6 Canopy or Rain Shelter
Unfortunately, a great game doesn’t always mean great weather, and you want to make sure that you’re able to throw your tailgate party no matter what.
When you bring a high-quality canopy tent, some form of rain shelter or maybe a football team canopy, you can rest assured that you and your guests will have a great time, rain or shine.
To make sure that you get the most out of your canopy, you’ll need to take into consideration how much space you’ll actually be taking up.
Generally speaking, you should plan to cover all your food, your preparation space, your entertainment setup, and still be able to comfortably accommodate your friends and family.
You can find multiple sized tents at a wide range of outdoor suppliers or even online on sites like amazon.
Just make sure that you find a canopy that can be secured easily so that you don’t have to worry about things blowing away and into someone’s car.
See my pop up canopy reviews to find the best size for your event.
#7 Plates and Cups
While you might think that a 20 pack of paper plates and plastic cups will be more than enough, tailgates often end up using up a lot more tableware than people think.
This could be due to people looking for new plates and cups every time they pick up something new to eat, or it could just be due to unexpected guests dropping by to share in a good time.
Either way, you want to make sure that you’re well prepared to serve anyone and everyone who stops by.
This means that picking up the largest pack of service-ware that you can, will be your best bet.
After all, you want to make sure that your guests have somewhere to put those delicious burgers or ribs that you’ve been working so hard on.
#8 Ice, Ice, and More Ice
One of the most important things you’ll need to have on hand when you throw a tailgate party will be ice. Ice is, in fact, absolutely essential.
Not only do you have to make sure that people have ice for their drinks, but you’ll want to make sure that you’re able to keep your sodas and other beverages cold. Then there’s also the food to think about.
Keeping your food nice and cold until you’re ready to start cooking will be essential if you don’t want everyone around you to get sick.
The more ice you have on hand, the more secure you can feel about the quality of your food.
Also, remember that parking lots can get extremely hot, especially in the middle of the summer.
So if you’re planning on staking out a spot on the asphalt, having ice on hand will ensure that you have what you need to cool yourself, your food, and everyone else, even when it feels like you’ve parked yourselves on the sun.
#9 Folding Chairs
When people think of tailgates, they think of a laid back and comfortable good time. Unfortunately, too many tailgates end up being ruined by people not being able to enjoy their time together since they have nowhere to sit.
Remembering to bring a few extra folding chairs can be just the thing you need to keep everyone around you socializing and having a blast.
People like to sit while they eat and drink, but forcing people to make space inside or on top of their cars can really ruin the moment.
A few inexpensive, waterproof, plastic folding chairs just like what you bring to the beach can really help set the tone and create the perfect environment for you and your friends to create the best time.
#10 Entertainment Equipment
While you might love the idea of sitting down and having a great conversation with old friends, you need to remember that your tailgate party is exactly that, a party. All great parties need entertainment of some sort.
While radios have always been a staple of tailgate parties, the modern party thrower might actually want to invest in a Bluetooth or auxiliary cord functioning speaker.
Not only will this ensure that you’re able to get the party started with your own great tunes but that everyone else around you can also have the chance to share a few of their own favorites throughout the hours you’re going to spend together.
#11 Jumper Cables
Because people will be throwing these parties in and around their cars, having a good set of jumper cables on hand can make all the difference in the world to some of your guests when they find themselves in need.
The reality is that having jumper cables in your car at all times should really be a priority.
When you know you’re going to be visiting an event where people end up blasting their radios for hours on end, make sure that you have a way to get things running again when their battery completely dies.
This convenient and simple little tool can actually make you the hero of the entire parking lot, just giving you and your guests yet another reason to celebrate and have a great time.
While drinking and having a great time might be at the forefront of every tailgater’s mind, your health and safety should also be a concern.
Most tailgating parties happen in the hours before a big game or concert, which means that you’ll be out in the middle of a parking lot where there’s absolutely no shade to speak of when the sun is at its strongest.
Having a good quality sunscreen on hand can be the best way to ensure that you and your guests don’t end up suffering from uncomfortable or even downright painful burns for the next few days.
Even if you’re looking to get that sun-kissed glow, remember that the sun will reflect off of the cars and the pavement around you.
This means that even if you lather yourself in SPF 50 sunscreen, you’ll probably still come out looking much tanner than you did beforehand.
#13 First Aid Kit
Mixing drinking, partying, and parking lots can result in one of the most fun afternoons imaginable, but it can also be a recipe for disaster.
The last thing you want is someone getting cut on a broken bottle or burned on your hot grill and having the rest of the day ruined for both them and yourself.
Having a first aid kit on hand at all times is a great way to guarantee that you’ll be able to take care of these little issues before they become major concerns.
While many brands have come up with convenient little first aid packs that you can easily find at your local pharmacy, if you’re planning on putting your own box together, here are just some of the different things you’ll want to remember to include:
- Gauze Dressings
- Safety Pins
- Sterile Gloves
- Pain Relievers
- Antiseptic Cream
- Distilled Water for Cleaning
View this First aid kit on Amazon
Having these items on hand can make all the difference in the world when someone gets hurt, and being prepared will mean that you’ll be able to keep the party going no matter what.
Don’t let things get dragged down by a cut or a headache. Keep everyone around you safe and feeling their best so that the party goes on for as long as it possibly can.
#14 Heavy-Duty Trash Bags
While throwing an amazing tailgate party should certainly be your main concern, you’re also going to need to worry about the cleanup process afterward.
Cleanup can be a real hassle with these kinds of parties, especially if you leave everything to the last minute.
Setting up some heavy-duty garbage bags can be a great way to ensure that people throw their garbage away the moment they’re done with something rather than just setting it down wherever they are at the moment.
Remember that having a great tailgate party can be the best time, but not if you’re leaving trash all over for everyone else to deal with.
Heavy-duty garbage bags will be the best way to ensure that you’re able to deal with everything left in your parking area so that you don’t end up having to deal with an even bigger mess than you should.
Tailgate parties have become a staple of event culture here in the US and recently around the world.
Whether you’re planning on attending a football game or a rock concert, you can rest assured that you’ll see people gathering in the parking lots ready to have a good time. However, throwing a great tailgate can often end up being much more complicated than people initially expect.
You’ll need to make sure that you have absolutely everything you need on hand from the moment you get there to the moment you leave because leaving to go and get something you forgot really isn’t going to be an option.
Knowing the right tricks and tools to help make your party great can make all the difference in the world and help ensure that everyone around you has such a great time that they forget the real reason they’re sitting in the parking lot, to begin with.
Keep these essential tools and equipment in mind so that you can be sure that you’ll throw the tailgating party of the century the next time you decide to take one on.