Tailgate Prep 101


Whether you’re a big-time sports fan or not so much, there’s one thing about game day we all look forward to – the tailgate. Where we come from, tailgating is about more than the game. It’s about friends, family, great food and everyone having an all-around good time. To make sure nothing gets in the way of your good time, we’ve put together a few tips to ensure you’re 100 percent prepared for game day’s most important event.

Make a list, and check it twice. Grab lots of water bottles, napkins, paper towels, Chinet® Classic White™ dinner plates for heartier dishes, Chinet® Cut Crystal® 9 oz. cups for easy single-servings, Chinet® Cut Crystal® cutlery, and a few Chinet® Classic White™ Chip & Dip Party Trays. And don’t forget the cutting board, knife and foil to keep food warm and wrap up leftovers. A few big stackable plastic bins can also come in handy for transporting or for trash and recycling. To make sure you don’t leave anything behind, download our tailgating checklist [click here] to use as a guide.


Research the tailgate site. Find out where you can and can’t park, and what exactly the rules are. For example, if you’re wanting to grill out in your parking spot, make sure open flames are actually allowed. See what time the gates open and how late they stay open. Locate the nearest restroom facilities. Read up on the rules regarding alcohol. Knowing these things ahead of time can make for a much more enjoyable – and way less stressful – tailgating experience for everyone.

Plan to haul it home. Unless you learn in your research that the tailgating site has a place to drop trash and recyclables, plan on bringing everything home with you. Therefore, make sure you have plenty of heavy-duty trash bags on hand so your car doesn’t end up a mess. Be sure to also consider how you’ll package up leftover food and transport a dirty grill.

Prep what you can. Do as much as you can at home, where you’ve got all the amenities on hand. This includes marinating, cutting up produce, preparing dips, threading meat and vegetables onto skewers for easy grilling and mixing up big batches of cocktails into large portable jugs. Sticking to recipes that can be made ahead of time is ideal. 

Organize your coolers. Bring two coolers: one for food, one for drinks. A third cooler to hold any raw food that needs to be cooked at the tailgate site is also a good idea. Make sure everything is packed and wrapped tightly to avoid spillage. Place the items you’ll use first at the top of the coolers. Label your coolers so that guests aren’t hunting around aimlessly. Tie a bottle opener to the drink cooler’s handle for easy identification (especially if you’ve packed anything in glass bottles).

Find more tailgating tips and recipe ideas here