A football fan lounges in a hot tub at a tailgate.

10 Things Every Man Needs for the Perfect Tailgate

Words: Alex Herrmann
Photo: Rick Stewart / Getty Images

Big event coming up? Check out our tips to turn a parking lot into your personal playground.

There’s no better way to get in the mood for an epic event than tailgating — but it’s important to do it right. With these tips, you’ll be ready to host a party so good your friends will name you “Designated Tailgate Thrower,” “Person Who Makes Fun Things Happen” and “Bringer of Good Cheer to Parking Lots.” Think you can handle that kind of power? Then check out the 10 things every man needs for a proper tailgate below.

1. The Perfect Event

You can’t tailgate without something to go to after — otherwise it’s just a party in a parking lot, and no one feels great about that. But don’t fret, intrepid would-be-tailgater, life is full of opportunities to throw down. Music festivals, sporting events, your sister’s dance recital — the possibilities are endless. Pick one, figure out where you can park nearby and legally enjoy adult beverages without getting a ticket, and it’s on.

2. The Perfect Drinks

Quality drinks are at the core of any successful tailgate. Beer (often bought in bulk) is an obvious go-to and a must-have for a traditional tailgate, but there’s room to get creative. Specialty cocktails can kick things into high gear and keep up the illusion that you’re a sophisticated adult who has their shit together. If you’re tailgating near a lake (hello Lollapalooza), a Lakeside Cherry Limeade is the logical choice. And be smart — keep plenty of water on hand. Everyone will be glad you did.

Grilling at a tailgate.

This guy has his grilling game on lock.


3. The Perfect Food

To make it through an entire day of tailgating, you’re going to need fuel. Make sure your grub is snackable. It’s always hard to find a place to set your drink down, so anything that only requires one hand to eat is prime. Sliders, chips and dip, cookies — all great options to keep tailgate-goers mobile and well fed. But if that fails, just make sure there is food, period. If the aforementioned drinks go over well your guests will probably eat whatever is put in front of them.

4. The Perfect Guests

What’s a party without company? A boring party. A boring party where people give you funny looks and wonder why you set up an elaborate tailgate spread and didn’t invite anyone to share it. Tailgates are about togetherness, so fly a flag over your car that your friends can spot in a crowded parking lot. The more distinct the better.

Playing cornhole at a tailgate.

Cornhole — a tailgate tradition.

© The Washington Post / Getty Images

5. The Perfect Games

Games are a great way to give your tailgate a unique touch and keep guests entertained. Everyone loves activities. Beer pong, cornhole (“beanbag toss” or “bags” if you’re one of those people who is uncomfortable with the name “cornhole”) and body slamming folding tables are always crowd pleasers. At the very least, you can take the simple approach of tossin’ the old pigskin in the parking lot. It really doesn’t get old.

6. The Perfect Music

The perfect playlist sets the tone for the perfect tailgate. If you’re tailgating a music festival or concert, pick something that matches the vibe of the show. But please, don’t be one of those people who only plays the artist they’re about to see. You’re going to get plenty of that later. If you don’t already have your tailgate tunes dialed, your favorite streaming sites have got you covered with playlists for every kind of party.

7. The Perfect Weather

This one is tough to make perfect. One of the best parts of a good tailgate is spending the day outside (fresh air makes drinking so much better). But at the end of the day, you’re at the mercy of notoriously fickle mistress Mother Nature and her many whims. Cross your fingers, and hopefully she’ll smile upon you, pointing her UV rays directly at your tailgate. Regardless, be ready to adapt to the conditions and don’t let them hold you back. If it’s sunny, wear sunscreen. If it’s raining, complain about it, and bring a raincoat. You get the idea.

A Coachella-ready tailgate vehicle.

This van is beyond ready for a Coachella tailgate.

© Edenmorrison / Flickr

8. The Perfect Seating

During a long day of tailgating, you’re bound to get tired. With ample seating at your tailgate you’ll be spared from sore legs and the complaints of tired guests. Get a couple of folding camping chairs, they’re easy to transport and are the model of tailgate comfort. Pro tip — pop your trunk and BAM, extra seating in the back of your car. It’s like magic.

9. The Perfect Attire

Dress for the event you’re tailgating. For a sporting event, support your team. For a music festival, support your social media presence with a trendy outfit. But to get yourself in the right tailgate mindset, do it all a bit bigger. Wear the most ridiculous version of your festive outfit and you’re bound to have even more fun.

10. The Perfect Amount of Self-Restraint

A good tailgate is a proverbial marathon, not a sprint. So be smart — pace yourself and drink plenty of water. The last thing you want is to tailgate too hard and miss the main event after. After all, you’re really there for the that and not just the tailgate… right? Right.

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09 2016 The Red Bulletin

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