8 Tailgate Party Tips to Pregame Like a Boss
Expert Advice

“No person will make a great business who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit.” —Andrew Carnegie

Wondering what a business quote by Andrew Carnegie, the self-made steel tycoon and one of the richest Americans of the 19th century, has to do with tailgating? One word: delegating.

Unless it’s just you and a buddy passing time in the parking lot before the game starts, drinking cheap beer and munching on some store-bought chips and salsa, you can’t tackle a tailgate all on your own – not well, anyway. That’s where delegating comes in: the act of entrusting guests with tasks to make your party stellar without stressing you (and your wallet) out.

Carnegie was a master delegator, known for his rags-to riches tale, which resulted in him having boatloads of money. While there’s no denying his business prowess helped him succeed, it was his ability to put other people’s talents and efforts to work that really helped him get ahead. Carnegie relied so much on others that his tombstone memorializes them with the words: “Here lies a man who knew how to enlist the service of better men than himself.”

Carnegie’s legacy proves there is a lot of benefit to mobilizing others to get ahead, and since everyone enjoys a good tailgate, it feels less like building your Game Day Guru greatness on the backs of your guests and more like you know how to party like a boss.

Not confident in your delegating skills? No worries! We’ve got eight tips to have you doling out duties and tasking teams with party projects as if you earned a master’s in business management with a minor in tailgating.

1 COMMUNICATE THE BIG PICTURE. A sure way to get guests to turn on you is to surprise them with tasks for which they weren’t prepared. If this is your first time hosting the pregame or if you’ve done so in the past but shouldered the work yourself, guests won’t necessarily know you need helping hands. When sending out the invite to attend your tailgate, let them know you’ll be calling on others to bring items and assist with things such as cooking and cocktails.  

2 PLAY TO THEIR STRENGTHS. If your idiot brother-in-law was late to his own wedding, it’s best not to put him in charge of arriving early to the save parking spots for you and your crew. Know what guests are best at, and suggest tasks that will be easy for them to carry out without creating a riff in the party plans.  

3 CHECK IT OFF. Not sure who you can trust with what? Create a list of supplies and food needed, as well as what needs to be done to make the event go off without a hitch. Send out the list to your guests and ask they each volunteer to help out where they can. 

4 DO YOUR PART. Delegating is one part of hosting the party, but it’s not the only part. If you expect to sit back and give orders without also contributing, get ready to be benched for future tailgates to come. The idea is to receive help from others but still orchestrate the day in a way that’s smooth and enjoyable for everyone in attendance.  

5 DON’T MICROMANAGE. If you have a very specific preference on the type of charcoal to go in your grill or the mustard to top your dog—so much so that it will put a damper on your day if not absolutely correct—then put it on your to-do list; don’t delegate it out. While you can give some specifics on things needed, trust that your guests are capable of bringing food that meets your request, even if it’s a different brand than you would specifically pick out for yourself.

6 BE CLEAR AND CONCISE. A group of confused guests will lead to a pregame party full of duplicate items and necessities not in tow. Try to communicate with everyone at the same time, instead of telling John to tell Jenny to tell Susan to bring the ice. Go directly to the source instead, and you’ll avoid drinking warm brews before the game begins.

7 SAY THANKS. Even if the guest who brought the tent, chairs and tables just had them lying around in his garage, you shouldn’t take his contribution for granted. Show gratitude on the day of the event, saying thank you early and often. Follow up with an email or group text thanking everyone again – even if they only brought team stickers from StickerYou – and planting the seed for the next iteration. If you took a page from Carnegie’s strategy book, guests will be happy for a repeat party.

8 SOAK IT IN. Sure, you want everyone to have fun at your tailgate, as well as to have it go down as a legendary day with friends and family. However, you can’t forget to enjoy the fruits of your and your guests’ labor (the latter thanks to your newly honed master delegating skills!). During your much deserved downtime, you can even further sharpen your abilities, observing where guests have naturally gravitated toward helping out. If someone has put their smartphone on the task of playing DJ, and another is mixing cocktails, while somebody else is tidying up the food area, keep this in mind for future party tasks, as they likely won’t mind stepping up to help again.

While this all kicked off with a quote from Carnegie, lets close with an altered quote from 80s pop icon Cyndi Lauper: “Friends just want to have fun.” Delegate the tailgating tasks to your guests and, though you won’t be rich in money, you will be rich in lasting memories to cherish for game days to come.