Tailgating with a Twist: How to Host a Classy Pre-Game Bash

Tailgating Tips

Classy tailgating may sound like an oxymoron, but with a touch of ingenuity, you can turn your next tailgating affair into a rollicking rumpus marked with the right amount of elegance and style.

Pre-game parties represent the ultimate viewing experience for football fans and come laced with a mix of fun finger foods, drinks and spirited camaraderie. If the thought of tailgating brings up hazy memories of your reckless college days, think again. Dip your chip into these classy tailgating tips and enjoy a pre-game bash with classy appeal.


Just like any sports team, your first task is to come up with a game plan. Before you tackle the food, drinks and decor, start with these preliminary plays:


Prepare water stations. The often overlooked aspect of tailgates is the lack of nearby restrooms and faucets specifically. Remedy this with an upside down laundry soap container filled with water. Or, pick up a reasonably priced water cooler and double its use for outdoor parties.

Pre-pack the basics. Avoid the last-minute rush to gather all your supplies on game day. Fill a toolbox with all the essential grilling gear, decorations and emergency items. This can be left in the vehicle along with a bin for dirty dishes or trash.

Upgrade your tools. Add some class to your tailgating festivities with a few key upgrades. Our Grill Master Barbeque Tool Set is a nice addition to the tailgate stocked toolbox. Other upgrades to raise the bar on your entertainment style include a rapid beer chiller or a custom steak brander.

Drink & Food

Now that you’re warmed up, the next step is planning your menu. Class up your tailgating style with food and drinks that score high with your guests.


Hone your craft. America’s love of football has propelled the popularity of pre-game celebrations and elevated the standard tailgating menus. Tailgate cooking classes like the NY Jets Cooking School have popped up throughout the country. If you don’t have tailgating cooking classes available in your area, browse recipe sites like epicurious.com for game-day menu inspirations. Test out a few recipes beforehand on your family.

Mix it up. If cooking isn’t your thing, you still don’t have to settle for the standard pre-game fare. Fortunately, the technology of cooking has enabled us to expand the tailgating menu from one-dimensional to option-heavy. Two great options include:

  • Crockpot: The options are endless with this slow-cooking machine. Meals like pulled pork sandwiches, chicken tortilla soup or crab dips can be prepared the night before and hauled to the game. Or, opt for recipes that coincide with your team and the local culture.

  • Kebabs: A simple dish makes for an array of options. Shish-kebabs can be made with beef, chicken, pork or lamb, along with more adventurous combinations like bacon-wrapped, cajun or curry. Vegetable or fruit kebabs are perfect options for vegetarians, and add jalapeno poppers for the spice lover. Remember to soak wooden skewers in water before grilling, so they don’t catch fire.

Raise a glass. The standard tailgating drink menu includes light beer and usually lots of it. Raise the bar by adding a selection of craft microbrews to your drink card. The excess of food and time in the sun won’t jive with a lot of light beer. Instead, beers like the Abita Purple Haze and Butte Creek Organic India Pale Ale have a balanced amount of calories, carbs and alcohol content. Distinctive wines are also a great option, but just be aware that glass at a tailgating party is risky business. Don’t forget the plastic cups.


On the decorating front, the local team’s colors and mascot should consume your setup. A silverware container decorated like a football makes a spirited touch, and it’s also sanitary and practical. Take any can or mason jar, paint the entire outside brown and then paint on laces.


Use our college roses as a bright and memorable centerpiece. The selection has 24 teams available along with ties and bracelets. If your team isn’t available, the Football Fields Ivy Plant will add the green to your tailgate. Round it off with a team-colored cooler via construction paper and markers or spray paint if to be permanent. Label all the coolers to avoid leaving anything behind or leaving cold items in the heat.