People. The people have to be the number one thing to make a tailgate successful. People with attitude, fun and a sense of adventure make everything more fun. It doesn’t have to be a large crowd, as long as it is a fun group. I remember a few tailgate parties for the dreaded 11am Big Ten Conference game, where sitting in the cold and damp midwestern morning was made pretty memorable because of the small, hardy bunch we had in attendance. And I have been at some large parties with little heart and soul. Good people equal great fun.
Food. You have to have good food for a good tailgate. It can be simple, basic chow all the way to high end cuisine. But feed the people well and they will enjoy. Can you bring a simple, pizza parlor pizza to the event? If it is good and feeds the bellies of the crowd it could work. Can you bring rolls and rolls of awesome sushi? Sure, as long as you bring plenty. What about pork slider? Of course. Subway foot longs? Yep. The key is bring good food and plenty of it. Appetizers, entrees and desserts. And beer and booze.
Game. Any game or event can be good. Outdoor events work the best, but anything is fair game. Football, baseball, hockey, basketball, lingerie football, lacrosse, track and field, tax day, graduations…….You name the event and we can all agree on a celebration. I love a good “Got Out Of Jail” tailgate. No better reason to party.
Setting. A parking lot with a good amount of open green space nearby is the ideal. But I have seen many events in the concrete jungle, where parking garages and cement walls are about as good as it gets. If you have room for a grill, table chairs and people it is a go.
Weather. You want good weather. The sunny, mild day is what you hope for. But if it is too cold, put on a few layers. And too hot? Strip. If it rains, put up a tarp. Same with snow. You have to go all in no matter the weather. There are plenty of hardcore tailgaters at late season Green Bay Packers games. If they can do it, so can you.
Equipment. True tailgaters have more equipment than the National Guard. They are not hurting in this regard. But all you need is a place to keep food cold, a tool to heat it up, serving implements, table type devices and a place to sit your butt.
Music. Music can be good as it keeps the tempo active. Make sure to use it sparingly and keep it appropriate for the crowd. I have been to great parties with music and great parties without it.
Activities. Games and other activities are always welcome. Everyone like to throw a football or play catch with a baseball. Or do whatever lacrosse players do with those sticks. Cornhole and other games are suited perfectly. Make some room and enjoy whatever game fits your crowd.