Fall is in the air, and pumpkin spice lattes are back on the menu at my local coffee shop. For me and my family, fall also means school spirit and football. One of the ways we celebrate our home team and make time for gathering with friends we don’t see often enough is tailgating.


Even if football is not your thing, (maybe it's baseball or soccer) you have to admit there is nothing quite like packing up the car with all your tailgating essentials and sharing the excitement of a home game with your family. Knowing how to tailgate with or without children can be a challenging feat though!


With so many items to prepare and pack, having an organizational system is super important. With the right setup you will have everything you need for your family and friends right at your fingertips. These are some of the best tailgating ideas I have found to reduce stress and ensure my family and I have a great time cheering on the team.


Plan a Menu


You know tailgating is about the food, not the football. (At least for me!) Knowing what tasty treats my family will want and bringing enough so no one is hungry is essential to our tailgating experience.


My planning always begins with a list of food items I will want to bring and what extra items I will need to prepare them. I keep a separate list for drinks. Juice for the kiddos and plenty of water are always a priority. My husband loves to grill so choosing healthy meats and vegetables that can be quickly and easily prepared is a must. This means I need to add a small grill, propane, tools, and an oven mitt to the list as well.


Don’t Forget Dinnerware


I keep a list of items that are absolutely essential for any meal on the go, but especially a tailgating meal. Partyware or dinnerware for my family includes compostable plates, utensils, cups, and plenty of napkins.


I also keep trash bags, foil, and serving utensils handy. These items get stored all together. My #8 OTG|247 bags are perfect for this. A lot of people use bins to organize, but I save so much space in the trunk this way. It’s one of my best tailgating ideas.


Plan Activities


Keeping kiddos and adults alike entertained is an important factor when considering how to tailgate. I do my best to plan games and activities that can be played with other families as well as options my children can do solo.


I keep a bin of games that are old standbys (bean bag toss, ping pong, and of course footballs). I also like to add something new each season to spice it up. Last year the children absolutely loved the addition of face paint and it definitely made us a popular stop for other tailgating families! Note to self: add wet wipes to the list.


List Your Essentials


What are the little items you and your family members take for granted? Make a list of them and be sure you pack them in an accessible place! Of course coolers and freezer packs or ice are high on the list. I use soft coolers and freezer packs for drinks - a few #7 Foodie bags come in handy - and a separate cooler for food.


I typically prefer freezer packs so things stay dry. I always keep some in the freezer, but in the fall I increase the stock quite a bit. I keep a running list of items that need to be stocked for tailgating and add to it as I need to.


Stay Warm and Comfortable


Staying warm on chillier days and comfortable whether it’s sunny, windy, or drizzling is key to tailgating like a pro. Hand warmers, blankets, sunscreen, bug spray, and hand sanitizer are all must haves. Extra clothes can be packed all together in a bag in the back. You may not need them at all, but if you do, you’ll be glad you thought ahead and packed them!


I also keep a clipboard with my master list and pen handy when packing up the car to be sure I’ve got everything my family and I need to have the best time tailgating. Before even packing up the car I have the items I need organized into separate coolers, bags, and bins (if necessary).


I spend a bit of time deciding what goes in front and what can be pushed further back; you’ll save a ton of time later on. We have made tailgating a family tradition and over time I have found that some of the best tailgating ideas just come with experience.


You will find what works best for you over time, but get started on the right track by planning, making lists, and staying organized!


The last thing you want is a messy trunk or backseat when tailgating. Knowing how to tailgate is just about knowing what you and your family will need and keeping it all organized. Follow these simple ideas for a fabulous time this fall! Enjoy cheering on your favorite team, seeing friends, and meeting new people. Don’t let the stress of not having what you need be a problem for you!