Family Tailgate Tips for Your Next Sporting Event

tailgate tips

Tailgating goes hand in hand with sporting events. Whether you’re cheering on your favorite professional team, college team, high school team, or little league, a family tailgate is time well spent connecting with and supporting each other through a common bond. For many years, our youngest son played on a youth football team that held tailgates after every game. It was a great opportunity for the kids to blow off some steam after a big win, or a tough loss.  Parents and coaches were also given the opportunity to hang out and get to know each other better.

We’ve had plenty of experience with tailgate style get-togethers. You don’t need to wait for a football game to host a family tailgate. We get together for food, games, and fun for a number of different reasons, including group runs and races, church picnics, pasta nights prior to cross country meets, baseball games, and more. Tailgates are fun, engaging activities that the entire family will enjoy. We’ve found plenty of benefits to tailgating with our boys, like spending quality time together as a family and supporting each other’s interests.

5 Tips to Host a Successful Family Tailgate

Here are five of my favorite tips to help you organize your own family tailgate. Organizing a tailgate doesn’t need to be a cumbersome task that falls solely on one person. These tips will show you how to include everyone in the planning and execution of your get-together.

1. Make it Pot Luck & BYOB

Part of the family tailgate fun is the food. I’ve never attended a pot luck meal that didn’t knock it out of the park (pun intended). There’s no reason to take on all the food and beverage prep by yourself. Ask everyone to bring a dish to pass, and see what shows up. It makes for a fun spread of items, as well as a delicious home-cooked meal.

2. Choose a Theme

If you’re not a big fan of a hodgepodge of menu items, give your tailgate a theme! Ask everyone to bring a dish to pass that falls under a certain category. The options are limitless, but here are a few themes we’ve enjoyed over the years:

  • Mexican Food
  • Italian Food
  • Soups & Sandwiches
  • Football Foods (Usually an assortment of finger foods)
  • Backyard BBQ (Hamburgers and Hot Dogs)
  • Chili Cookoff
  • Brinner (Breakfast for Dinner)

3. Bring Tailgate Games

Tailgate games are a ton of fun! They can be as elaborate as a cornhole game displaying your team spirit, or as simple as a football to toss around. Games are a great way to involve both adults and children as they engage in friendly competition. Here are a few of our favorite tailgate games:

  • Cornhole
  • Ladderball
  • Disk Dunk
  • Kickball Game

4. Make a List of Needed Supplies

The more you tailgate, the better you’ll become at making sure you have everything you need on hand. There’s nothing worse than baking in the hot sun because you forgot to pack the shade canopy, or spilling a pop all over the table only to find you forgot the wet wipes. Be sure you make a list of needed supplies in advance so you don’t find yourself in a sticky situation.

5. Include Participants in Planning

Free apps like Evite, Facebook Events, and Sign Up Genius make it easy to include multiple people in the planning and execution of your family tailgate. It’s as simple as recreating your checklist online and sharing the link with others. Include all the items and quantities you’ll need and ask guests to sign up to bring them. This prevents people from bringing duplicate items, as well as saves on cost by pulling from everyone’s inventory. I love how this inspires a sense of community, rather than one person purchasing and hauling everything by themselves.

TIP: Include a link to your Sign Up Genius in your Evite or Facebook Event!

Family tailgates are very rewarding and a ton of fun. Don’t be overwhelmed by the details! Once you organize your first event, the steps are easy to replicate over and over again. For example, Sign Up Genius allows you to duplicate previous lists, so once you’ve created one it’s ready to go the next time.

Family Tailgate Checklist

Following is a quick checklist of items for a successful tailgate, by category:


  • Choose the date, time, and location for your tailgate
    • Be sure to get any permissions that may be required
  • Create a Sign Up Genius list
  • Invite guests through Evite or a Facebook Event
    • Include Pot Luck Theme and BYOB information
    • Share a link to your Sign Up Genius


  • Tent or Canopy
  • Serving Tables
  • Chairs (everyone should bring enough for their family)
  • Generator
  • Extension Cords
  • Bug Spray
  • Sunscreen
  • Rain Gear
  • First Aid Kit


  • Grill (if cooking on site)
  • Propane / Charcoal
  • Grilling Utensils
  • Pot Holders
  • Serving Platters
  • Can Opener
  • Foil


  • Table Clothes
  • Disposable Utensils
  • Paper plates
  • Bowls
  • Napkins
  • Condiments


  • Coolers
  • Ice
  • Solo Cups
  • Water
  • Koozies
  • Bottle Opener
  • Corkscrew


  • Garbage Bags
  • Wet Wipes
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Paper Towels
  • Plastic Wrap
  • Tupperware Containers


  • Music / Bluetooth Speaker
  • Football
  • Cards / Dice
  • Tailgate Games

I’m looking forward to a fun, fall season full of tailgating! Next, I need some fresh ideas of recipes for our next family tailgate.

Please share your favorite tailgate foods and recipes with me in the comments!

Written by: Guest blogger - Amy Powell

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