Tailgating is a timeless tradition in which fans return to high school, college, and pro stadium parking lots for some pregame camaraderie. Anyone can throw a grill and a cooler in their truck, but in a sea of pickups and lawn chairs, how will your friends find your gathering? And will it be worth remembering after they’re finished with their brats and beer? If you want to make the most of being host, try some of these creative ways to make your tailgating party stand out.
Trick Out Your Truck
From the grill to the tunes to tables and even a tent canopy for cover in the event of weather changes, you should already have the essentials. But there’s more you can do to help friends find you in the parking lot.
Raise your team’s flag on a tall pole—weighted at the bottom to keep it from toppling—or stretch a banner across your tent canopy. Use tablecloths, napkins, and even utensils in team colors. Stake out your space in the parking lot with colorful ribbons or tape connecting stanchions, if it’s permitted.
Automakers use 3D printing to allow truck owners to customize some aspects of their rides. With the right equipment, you can do the same by printing coasters, mini-team mascots, keychains, and other small items to give to your friends to their delight.
Provide Party Favors
Great guests never arrive empty-handed. They shouldn’t leave that way, either. Prepare a small box of simple party favors for each guest to take with them into the stadium—just be sure to check the rules about what can be brought in and what’s prohibited.
Handy things like lip balm, sunscreen, hand warmers, and headbands will help your friends stay comfortable during the game. Items branded with your team’s colors and logos, from seat pads and warmers to gloves, hats, and blankets, are even better.
Make Single-Serving Snacks and Drinks
Everyone will appreciate the convenience of single-serve snacks. Offer popcorn, chips, and candies in individual bags, rather than having guests paw through communal bowls. You can also pre-make mason jars filled with your signature cocktail for guests to grab from the cooler quickly and easily.
Pack Clean Power
Quality tailgate food can be spoiled by engine or generator fumes. Don’t use your car or a gas generator to provide power for sound systems or TVs. Instead, invest in a portable, rechargeable power station.
You can charge these power sources ahead of time to run your sound, a TV, and even a charging station for guests to charge their phones. Running out of power is almost as bad as running out of beer, so be sure you invest in a power station that can hold enough juice to last for the duration of your pregame party.
A little creativity will make your tailgating party stand out in the parking lot and in your friend’s memories long after the game is won.