Tailgating: Who, What, When, Where, Why!

Who doesn’t love gathering with friends around a grill or picnic basket, hoisting a cold beverage in celebration of a shared passion? It’s time for a tailgate party! A uniquely American pastime, tailgating originated in the US and dates back as far as the early 1900s; some experts say it began with spectators and picnic baskets at a battle during the Civil War!

It’s a great combo: grilled food, cold drinks, friends, fans, and your favorite event, all rolled up into one awesome day. If you’ve never had a tailgate party (or even if you have), it takes some planning and some specific know-how.

First, you’ll want to decide the five “Ws”…who, what, when, where, and why.

Who. Who will you invite? Make a list to get a sense of how much food you need to prepare and if anyone has food allergies. Once you know who you’ll be entertaining, you’re ready to move on to the next “W.”

What. This category is two-fold: what will you be serving, and what items do you need to make and serve the food? Start with a list of recipes, then make your supply list from there. Many dedicated tailgaters keep a pre-packed bin or toolbox ready to go with all the essential supplies.

When. Determine what time you’ll need to start so that you have time to cook, eat, celebrate, and clean up before game time. If your tailgating guests don’t already have tickets, make sure some are still available, so game day is seamless.

Where. Each stadium, arena, and local municipality has its own rules for tailgating. Be sure to look them up ahead of time so you can plan accordingly. You may also want to choose a location that’s near a public restroom for convenience. Whatever spot you choose, mark it with a bundle of helium balloons from a dollar store so your guests can more easily find you.

Why. Are you and your guests rabid fans? If so, it can be fun to demonstrate your team spirit with color-coordinated balloons, team jerseys, face paint, foam fingers, and any other fun items that spotlight your passion.

With careful planning and preparation, your next tailgate party can be the best one yet!