Football Tailgating Checklist – A Beginner’s Guide

With football season officially in full swing, we at The Tailgating Spot thought it would be a good idea to put together a guide on what you’ll need to throw a successful tailgating party. Depending on the region you are in and the stadium’s rules, your options for foods and beverages can vary, but consider this football tailgating checklist to be a template and something that can be catered to your needs.


One could argue that the key to a proper tailgating party is the food. It’s hard to walk through a tailgating lot and not appreciate the smells of grilled meats and other foods being prepared. You can tell that these cooks really take pride in their craft. By the equipment that they bring, the menu items they prepare, and their willingness to share their food with anyone who happens to stop by to say hello and pay them a compliment, the food you find while tailgating is not only great to eat but it also builds community and adds to the atmosphere.

Here are a list of some tailgating food must-haves:

  • Hot dogs/Brats (easy and something that is handheld
  • RibsFootball Tailgating Checklist - Football Grilling
  • Hamburgers (prepped the night before)
  • Nachos
  • Chicken Wings
  • Cookies/Donuts/something to satisfy that sweet tooth
  • Pulled pork (this may be time-consuming, but is totally worth it)
  • Vegetables that are easy to throw on the grill, such as onions, asparagus, potatoes, corn on the cob, etc.
  • Potato chips with dip
  • Salad. All varieties including potato, taco, pasta, etc.
  • Taco in a bag bar

The options are truly endless, but the point is that keeping some of these tailgating staples in your food rotation will be a good base to start your menu from. The rest can be left up to your imagination!


Often times, you may find yourself tailgating for many hours before the football game even starts. This will necessitate the need to have tailgating games readily available. These games can help build that competitive spirit that will be needed to cheer your team on to victory and can also be a source of bragging rights until the next weekend. They are also very affordable and portable which is helpful during cleanup.

Here is a list of common go-to tailgating games:

  • Cornhole (or also known as bags, bag toss, or sack toss)
  • Beer Pong
  • Flip Cup
  • Spike BallFootball Tailgating Checklist - Beer Pong
  • Chandeliers
  • Simple catch (it wouldn’t be a proper football tailgating party without using a football)
  • Horseshoes
  • Washer Toss
  • Louisville Chugger
  • Ladder toss (or where I’m from in the Midwest, Norwegian Golf)
  • Fowling
  • Hammer-Schlagen
  • Giant Jenga

Much like the food options, there are many options for games to offer your tailgating crew. In fact, I even wrote an article that dives into the history of Cornhole as it’s easily one of the most popular tailgating games.


This is where you can really go all out. The amount of tailgating accessories to outfit your spot ends with your imagination. You can get as creative as you want and let a little bit of your personality shine through. Even though these may be considered accessory items, they are important and necessary to provide a great experience for your guests.

Here is a list of common tailgating accessories:

  • A grill (there are wide varieties and options available, based on your needs)
  • BBQ tool kit
  • Cooler
  • Speakers for music, ideally a Bluetooth setup that is portable
  • Folding chairs
  • Portable generator
  • Tables
  • Pop-up Canopy
  • Heaters (essential in those cold weather states during the postseason)
  • Portable cook station
  • Game day flags
  • Custom tailgating trailer

Again, how you accessorize your tailgating spot is endless, but with the right outfit you can ensure your guests will be comfortable and will enjoy your tailgating experience for hours.

Team Pride

Finally the last, and maybe most important, item you need to bring is your team pride. Whether you’re cheering on your Alma mater during homecoming weekend or preparing to watch the pros who you’ve followed since you were a kid, you need to show the pride that you have for your team. All the food, games, and accessories will help accentuate the pride you have for your team, but understanding the players and coaches, their values and the hard work they put in, the history of the football team and the people involved, the reason why you love this team, is at the heart of all football fans. Team pride can show in many ways, and a loud, passionate fan base can even help swing your team to victory,

Wrapping Up

We wrap up this post by saying that, although this isn’t the most extensive list of tailgating tips and tricks, we hope that it gives you a starting point into the world of tailgaiting. Speaking from personal experience we can tell you that tailgating is the best way to partake in pregame festivities. You’ll make wonderful memories, start new traditions, and meet other passionate people, just like yourself!

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