How to Plan a Fall Tailgate

How to Plan a Fall Tailgate

Oct 01, 2023Margaret Barrow

As summer begins to wind down, that can only mean one thing - it is time to tailgate for some fall ball! Family, football, and good food, what is not to love about the fall tailgating season? With college and professional football underway, it is time to gather up family, friends, and neighbors to cheer on your favorite teams. Here are eight tips for a more mindful tailgate this fall season.

Tailgating Tip #1: Arrive Early

If you are tailgating with a large group of family members and friends, make sure to arrive at the stadium early. You would be surprised how quickly the parking lot can fill up, so remember the earlier the better. This will give you plenty of time to set up the grill(s), TVS (if you are bringing them so you can watch multiple football games), and tailgating games like bags (also known as corn hole), and horseshoes. Photo credit:  Creative_Outlet

Tailgating Tip #2: Create a Checklist

It may sound pretty basic, but organize all of your tailgating supplies on a checklist. You do not want to forget anything, so put everything on it, even the most obvious of items. Plan on tailgating more than once this season? Print out a paper copy of your official tailgating checklist then laminate it and use a dry-erase marker to check off every item on your to-do list once it is complete, that way you can reuse your list multiple times for each and every game. (Pretty clever, right?) Photo credit:  NorGal

Tailgating Tip #3: Expect the Unexpected

You can never be too prepared, so expect the unexpected. Pack items you would not necessarily think of such as:

  • Bags of Ice
  • First Aid Kit
  • Hats
  • Jumper Cables
  • Sunblock
  • Sunglasses
  • Warm Clothes (If you live in a colder climate)

Photo credit:  Zbynek Pospisil

Tailgating Tip #4: Plan a Menu

Tailgating menus can range from simple dishes to more elaborate culinary creations. Channel your inner top chef and set up a build-your-own plant-based burger bar complete with sides and toppings. Hosting an early morning tailgate? Try a breakfast or brunch-themed tailgate complete with everyone’s favorite breakfast foods. Do not forget your favorite bags of It’s NOLA granola, which is the perfect tailgating snack for game day. Photo credit:  LindasPhotography

Tailor your tailgate menu to you and your guests’ taste buds, but anything goes when it comes to tailgating. Just remember to practice food safety by keeping prepared foods and raw foods separate. 

Tip: When it comes to planning your tailgating menu, consider your guests and their taste preferences. Will there be children present or just adults? Are there any dietary preferences? Keep these questions in mind when planning your tailgate menu.

Tailgating Tip #5: Pack and Prepare

When tailgating, prepare as much as you can ahead of time, this will save you time (and stress) on the day of the big game.

  • Load the car with nonperishable items the day before the tailgate. Items like chairs, cups, cutlery, plates, napkins, tables, and of course the grill.
  • Pack reusable grocery bags with food that will not spoil overnight like hamburger buns, bags of snacks, and homemade desserts like brownies and cookies.
  • For any items that are perishable (think foods like dips, homemade salsas, fruit slices, and vegetable sticks), prepare them ahead of time and place them in containers you can easily transport the next day. Make sure you have lids that properly fit to avoid any spills. Photo credit:  victorass88

    Tailgating Tip #6: Game Day Gear

    On game day, be sure to don your team colors. Order some temporary team tattoos prior to game day to share with your crew. You can even purchase some nontoxic face paint to take your team spirit to the next level. Remember, this is a family atmosphere though, so be sure to practice good sportsmanship when interacting with fans of opposing teams. Photo credit:  Wavebreakmedia


    Group of people gathered outside around a man cooking on a grill.

    Tailgating Tip #7: Have Fun

    When planning your tailgate, strive for a tailgate party that appeals to the entire group and all ages. Enlist the help of your guests if needed and get everyone involved. At the end of the day, no matter whether your team wins or loses, it is all about making memories with family, friends, and your community, so have fun and make it a good time for all. Photo credit:  monkeybusinessimages

    A man, who is outside, is dropping garbage into a bin.

    Tailgating Tip #8: Clean Up

    No one wants the tailgate party to end, but it is time to clean up and pack up when the game is over. When it comes to cleaning, keep things simple. Clearly label recycling bins so everyone knows where to place cans, glass bottles, and water bottles. Place 1-2 trash bags near your tailgate spot so guests are never unsure of where to place used napkins and plates.

    Follow these eight tips for your next tailgate party and your football Saturday or Sunday is sure to be a total touchdown. Now the only question is, are you ready for some football?

    - Stay Healthy and Happy

    Need some fall tailgate recipes? Check out @mostlyplantbasedfoods or join our CEO live @itsnolasnacks as she shares recipes via video each month on It’s Nola Reels. Do not worry, even if you are not vegan, you will still enjoy these dishes.

    Tag us @itsnolasnacks so we can see all of your favorite fall tailgate foods and recipes.

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