'Tis the season.

Football season, that is.

So, do you go to watch the game, or to tailgate? 

To many people, tailgating is just as important as attending the actual game. It gets folks in the fighting spirit! Whether you are grilling up brats, tossing the football around, or sipping a cold Coke, it's all about the tradition.

If you are hosting a tailgate this year, here are five easy tips that will make your tailgate go off without a hitch:

1. Planning Ahead

Yes, this is an obvious one, but to put on a successful tailgate you need a little bit of strategy. List what you will need in major categories: weather prep, food, drinks, table setting, sitting, games, and cleanup. Once the list is formed, you can start breaking it down even further. For example, in the food category, are you grilling? Catering? Holding a potluck? From there you can decide what kind of utensils you need, plates, serving dishes, etc. By doing this, you eliminate the chance of forgetting something... because no one wants to eat chili off of a plate. 

2. Tailgate Set-Up

Once you arrive at your tailgating spot, set the stage with a table. This is where everyone will gather for food, drinks, and conversation. Since most tailgates are buffet style, lay out how you would like the food to be displayed. Hot dishes on one side and cooler dishes on the other. Make sure to have coolers on the side so people aren't bumping the tables and can have access to water for those hotter games. Also, have a trash bag or container in sight so folks aren't littering. 

3. Food and Drinks

This is why we love tailgating!  And there are no limits to what you can serve at a tailgate. Here are my rules of thumb:  

  • Foods: Keep it simple. If you're grilling, stick to foods that accompany a burger, such as potato salad or baked beans. If you do a chili bar, have two kinds of chili, each in a crockpot, and lay out all the fixings: cheese, onions, sour cream, etc. Check out this recipe for Avocado Pine Nut Dip
  • Dessert: Have team brownies, cookies, or anything with the team logo to get everyone in the spirit. Try this Coca-Cola chocolate chip cookie recipe as the base for your team spirit desserts.
  • Drinks: Keep water readily available in the cooler.  If you have alcohol, make sure to chill your beer or drinks the night before so everything is nice and cold.  Bring koozies to keep drinks cool, because everyone loves a refreshing, ice-cold Coke!

4. Games

Yes, conversation about who is going to win will be the main topic, but don't forget about entertainment, especially for the kids. Have a football you can toss around. Bring a game of corn-hole so adults and kids can interact together. Trivia games about the home team are also a fun activity. If you have a larger tailgating spot, play a little flag football to get everyone pumped up! 

5. Cleanup

Thirty minutes before the game starts, you'll want to start cleaning up. This will give you time to break down the tables, put away food, and dispose of any trash. Depending on halftime or post-game activities, have any leftover snacks and coolers at close range should anyone need something to nibble on or drink. 

And that's it! If you plan in advance, prep delicious food, and bring along a few entertainment options, you will have a winning tailgate.


Lauren Grier

Lauren Grier is the author behind the  Climbing Grier Mountain (CGM). CGM is all about embracing curiosity. She thinks of her kitchen as a playground full of endless opportunities to make dishes that reflect life's experiences and shenanigans. Her recipes are fresh, flavorful, and adventurous. 

Lauren is one of our food bloggers for The Openeran exclusive, invite-only contributor network that will bring the best food, culture, and innovation writing to the pages of Coca-Cola Journey.