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Tailgating is nothing short of a national obsession for American sports fans. A full 80% of Americans go to a tailgate party at least once a year. Meanwhile, an impressive 41% are known to go parking-lot partying over 8 times a year. 

It doesn’t matter if it is for a football game or a NASCAR race. No matter which sporting event, Americans love a good tailgate party. Simply put, these pre-game gatherings are a celebration of food and fun that appeals to people of all ages.

With all its many parts to consider, tailgate parties require a lot of preparation. To help you get ready, here’s a list of essential elements you’ll need for your next tailgate party. So whether you’re a seasoned pro or a recent neophyte, you need to consult this checklist before heading out!

1.  Fuel for Your BBQ, Grill, or Smoker

As anyone with the least amount of tailgating experience knows, this activity is all about one thing: food. An overwhelming 93% majority of tailgaters take it upon themselves to prepare food at the stadium or venue, for which BBQ is the preferred cooking method. And if you’re going to barbecue at a tailgate, you can’t forget one essential element: fuel.

With charcoal taking the lead as the most popular type of BBQ used at tailgate parties, these events have a definite need for charcoal briquets. Users with gas-powered BBQs and smokers, two other popular BBQ styles, will also need to bring ample supplies of propane and wood. 

In the interests of safety, be sure to extinguish and shut down your BBQs well before you need to transport them. Charcoal grill users should consider having a bucket of water handy to cool down briquets. At the same time, propane users should shut off their BBQ tanks. Under no circumstances should you be driving around afterward with a hot BBQ on board.

READ: 5 Quick Tips for Grilling Meat on Your Outdoor BBQ

2. Ice and Cups

As the Felix to its Oscar, beverages make up a huge part of the tailgate experience. And with BBQ at its best when it’s hot and crispy, tailgate drinks on the whole need to be nice and cold. For that, you’ll need ice. A whole lot of it.

Be sure to pack enough ice to last you throughout the entire tailgate party. More than that, try to conserve space when packing your coolers to maximize their use. As well, you can also try using ice substitutes such as ice packs. This will allow you to reuse them at a later date.

The other necessary component to enjoying beverages is having a way to drink them. For this reason, try to bring enough cups and tumblers for your guests to use. If you’re invited to a tailgate party as a guest, it’s always a good idea to bring backup supplies such as extra cups just in case.


outdoor grilling meat

3. Electricity Providers

As tailgate parties have become more popular, so too has their level of complexity. Recorded music and speakers were brought in for dancing and atmosphere; TV screens were brought in to watch the game from the parking lot; additionally, some tailgaters brought in electrical grills and electric fridges to help with their food storage and preparatory needs. 

And to be able to use these comforts of home in a parking lot, tailgate parties have come to depend upon electricity to supply their essential needs. This can come in many ways. 

Some tailgate participants rely on gas-powered generators to supply their electricity. Alternatively, some tailgaters choose to use a power inverter, a device that changes the direct current (DC) of your car or truck battery and turns it into the alternating current (AC) used by your appliances. Meanwhile, some new electric vehicles are designed to be able to run power tools and electric accessories. In some cases, they are said to be able to power a house for ten days.

Whatever your electric needs are, be sure you are adequately equipped to avoid a blacking out at the most crucial times.

READ: How to Host an Unforgettable World Cup Barbecue Party


4. Tables, Chairs, Tents

When hosting a tailgate party, your responsibilities are many and diverse. Where will you park? How will your guests find you? With so many things to take care of, there is also one more thing that is essential to the hospitality of your guests. This is to provide the furniture that is sorely missing from a stadium parking lot.

Tailgate parties can run for hours at a time, and there’s nothing worse than to have your guests leave if they’re feeling tired or find that there’s no place for them.

To ensure your guests are feeling welcome, try to provide a place for guests to sit and to put their food and drinks down. Bring chairs and tables, preferably folding varieties to save space. To guard against rain and sun, consider bringing a tent or large umbrella that can provide protection against the elements. And if you’re prone to go tailgating during the winter months, think about investing in a heat source like a portable fire pit so that guests won’t feel too cold.

5. Games & Decoration

The obvious focus of an outdoor tailgate party is located in the stadium inside, but the big game doesn’t have to be the center of attention. To keep your guests entertained, bring along games that can keep them amused and engaged with each other.

Popular games seen at many tailgate parties tend to be physical and invite many participants. These include popular favorites such as cornhole, ladder ball, beer pong, washers, and flip cup. If there is enough room, you can also bring a frisbee or football to toss around.

A festive atmosphere doesn’t just depend on entertainment. The spirit of a tailgate party is spontaneous and spartan, but it doesn’t have to be only that. A few decorations or personal effects can really enliven a party, especially if they support the sports team that playing in the upcoming game. In addition to that, they can help guests identify your party in an ocean of partiers. 

Myths in Grilling Steak Debunked

6. BBQ Tools

Considering that BBQ is such a vital component of the tailgate experience, it’s important to have proper BBQ tools on hand. You’ll want to pack such important tools as barbecue tongs, spatulas, cleaning brushes for afterward, and also the most important BBQ tool of all: a meat thermometer.

These tools are so important because they allow you to measure the internal food temperatures. This way, you are able to determine when food is done instead of just looking at the outside. Instead of charred food with frozen insides, you can make delicious food that is cooked all the way through.

For quick foods like hot dogs and hamburger patties, try using an instant-read like the ThermoPro One-Second Instant-Read Meat Thermometer. This device provides accurate readings in one second so you can keep grilling at your own pace.

ThermoPro Lightning One-Second Instant-Read Thermometer
ThermoPro Lightning

For foods with longer cook times, try using a probe thermometer like the ThermoPro TempSpike. This wireless device monitors cooking temperatures from distances up to 500′, allowing you to keep track of your cooking from nearly 2 city blocks away. Moreover, the TempSpike is also available in a twin-probe format to allow you to monitor twice the number of ingredients as before!

ThermoPro TempSpike

Final Thoughts

Tailgate parties are a lot of fun, but they also need a lot of preparation. Use a checklist to ensure you’re ready and stocked with all the components necessary for a great tailgate party!

Are you interested in getting a meat thermometer? ThermoPro sells a wide selection of instant-reads and probe thermometers that can be found on Amazon. Browse ThermoPro products to find the ideal thermometer you need!

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