10 Money-Saving Tailgate Tips
Expert Advice

On a quest to have a cool looking tailgate? Good news: it doesn’t have to cost much – after all, you already splurged on tickets. Here are our favorite ways to incorporate team spirit into your party from food to drinks to decorations without spending an arm and a leg.

1. Colored Napkins, Plates, and Cups

Visit any party store or party aisle and feast upon napkins, plates, and cups of all colors. Piece together a coordinating set that’s especially spirited. There’s no need to drop some dough on licensed gear. Those burgers will taste just as good on a plain plate. 

2. Jell-O Molds

Jell-O tastes even better when it’s in the shape of your mascot. Pick up some university-themed Jell-O molds that celebrate your favorite college teams. If you can’t find your alma mater, just make portable Jell-O bites – or shots – in your team’s colors using plastic ramekins with lids. 

3. Felt Garland

A reusable decoration that’s easy to make? Great. Simply cut triangles from felt in the colors of your team, then snip a slit into the top two corners of each triangle by folding in the points. String the garland with ribbon and hang from the back of your car or from your tailgate table. 

4. Colored Tablecloths

A plastic tablecloth or sheet of plain fabric can instantly brighten up a tailgate table. Plastic is nice if you’re looking for a quick cleanup before the game, but reusable fabric is better for the environment – as long as you’re willing to wait to launder your mess at home. 

5. Erasable Window Markers

There’s one thing you can always count on at tailgates – cars. Why not dress up yours? Show your spirit by writing on the windows with window markers (found at craft stores) in your team’s colors. Cheer on your favorite players or write a lyric from your team’s fight song. 

6. DIY Tailgate Toss

It’s not a true tailgate without a few games, but there’s no need to go broke buying a themed tailgate toss or corn hole set when you can make your own. Here’s a DIY corn hole tutorial that will cost you less than $100 to make. There’s an initial investment of time and money, but we’re sure you’ll put it good use over and over again. 

7. Balloons

Balloons might be the quickest and easiest ways to make your tailgate festive – and it’s a great way to help your friends find your location more easily. If it’s too windy to tie a burst of helium balloons from your car, use curling ribbon to make a balloon garland that can be strung along your tent or table. 

8. Spirited Sippers

Powdered drinks come in a rainbow of colors. Whip up a pitcher of spirited sippers on the spot or create a colored cocktail that shows off your pride. Go the extra mile by creating a label for the drink and naming it. For example, mix up an orange-tinted “Gator-ade” for Florida fans or display two pitchers of turquoise and yellow Jaguar Juice for Jacksonville fans. 

9. Cooler Decorations

Permanent markers, paint, or paint pens can turn a boring cooler into a spirited display. And it doesn’t take much skill. Anyone can paint stripes on the lid in their team’s colors. Besides looking prettier, it will keep other tailgaters from mistaking your cooler for theirs. 

10. Food Coloring

A packaged cupcake or cake mix dough can be transformed into a personalized display of affection with just a few drops of food coloring. Or add a couple drops to a bowl of white icing and stir. Heck, food coloring can even be added to beer or clear soda drinks. Cheap and easy!