How to Throw a Winning Tailgate Party

It'll be the talk of the parking lot.

When it’s time to cheer on your favorite team—be it in the NFL or your kid’s high school squad—you know you’ll want to bring more than just a big foam finger. You’ll want to bring the whole cheering section in the back of your SUV. There’s no better way to do that than through yummy homemade food, beverages and super stylish decorations that scream “super fan!

Set the Scene

crafts;tailgatingtaste of home

For this party, we went with a rustic green, black and white palette with touches of aged wood and steel. To get the look, cut out triangles of green felt and string them together to create a banner. Hang it off your tailgate or across your hood. Don’t forget signage to proclaim your tailgate party timeline and the food and drink options available at your parking lot party.

While you’re picking up groceries, swing through the entertaining aisle, where you’ll find cool black cups, plus strawsplates and cutlery. On Etsy, purchase some football-painted mason jars to hold your utensils, straws or napkins (or, paint your own if you’re the crafty type!). Then finish the scene with these buys:

throw blanketvia walmart.com

Throw Blanket, $39

mini chalk boardvia amazon.com

Chalkboard, $16

accent trayvia wayfair.com

Galvanized Trays, $129

Let’s Talk Food

snacks;pretzels;dip;bars;cookies;tailgaitingtaste of homeSure, you can make burgers, or you can go one step further and by taking a spin on some classics. Make sure there are plenty of sweet treats, too. Display them in a snack stadium if you’re feeling ambitious.

Want a grab-and-go snack? Let fans fill up these cute gridiron bowls with their favorite store-bought treats—think M&M’s, peanuts, popcorn and more.

Set up a Bloody Mary Bar

bloody mary bar; tailgatetaste of home

Indulge guests with a midday cocktail by setting up a build-your-own Bloody Mary station. Make a big jug of Big-Batch Bloody Mary Mix guests can add vodka to, with chasers of beer nearby—a staple for many Midwest Bloody Mary fans.

Assemble garnish skewers ahead of time using a variety of classic fixings, such as cubes of cheese, beef sticks, olives, pickled mushrooms, pickles and cocktail onions. Let guests add a splash of other accompaniments, such as hot sauce, Worcestershire or horseradish.

Get Pumped Up

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with this specially curated Tailgate Party playlist on Spotify. Why yes, that is the old-school “Jock Jams” collection. Don’t tell me you forgot how to do the Tootsee Roll.

Next up: Play these outdoor games before the big one begins.

Note: Every product is independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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Amanda Kippert
Amanda Kippert has been an award-winning freelance journalist for nearly two decades. She is based in Tucson, Arizona and specializes in food, health, fitness, parenting and humor, as well as social issues. She is the content editor of the domestic violence nonprofit DomesticShelters.org.