Thursday, October 23, 2014

Tailgating Essentials

We're about halfway through the football season and I have already been responsible for four tailgates. "Responsible" makes it sound like a bad thing, let me clarify, I have already been able to enjoy planning four tailgates. Not to mention the dozens and dozens I have attended and planned in the past.
Let me tell you, it takes some planning, but it is all SO worth it. Here are a few things that I never go without.

Large Tote Bag or Basket

At some point I may include a true "Tailgating Checklist" which would include a lot of small things like napkins, forks, trashbags, etc. and you need somewhere to put all of those things. I have a big Lilly tote/cooler or an LL Bean tote that I usually stick to. I think the Large or Extra Large is ideal for the LL Bean totes, I use the Large and have never had to worry about having enough space. You need something that is big enough to hold all of the paper products and miscellaneous items you need as well as any day-of odds and ends you want to toss in. A bag or basket would be fine because ideally this will remain in or near the car, so it doesn't need to be super easy to carry or anything like that. Here are a few options that I think would be perfect.

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There are literally hundreds of coolers, but some are better than others. My boyfriend has a Yeti, well actually he has two, and we always use those. They are definitely on the more expensive end, but those suckers work. They work so well that we can actually pack the cooler the night before with ice and it will still be cold for the entire day of tailgating.
If we are going to grill and have frozen/cold food we try to take two coolers. It's not that I'm all that worried about cross contamination, but sometimes we just need the extra space.
I also have a Lilly tote cooler that I will occasionally put my champ and OJ in, mostly because I want to take any excuse I have to use it. Depending on what else we're bringing, sometimes this serves as our catch-all bag as well.

Hand Sanitizer

One Word. Port-a-Potties. Some do have that weird hand sanitizer foam in them, but that is not something you want to count on. This is one easy item to toss in your bag and one that you will definitely be glad you did!


Recently we have been plagued with noon kick-offs which makes it much more difficult to plan food wise. Depending on how early we want to get up is really the deciding factor. Last year for the Tennessee-South Carolina game we were in Knoxville and started tailgating at 7am. This tailgate included breakfast sausage, biscuits, and hashbrowns - all on the grill - and it was great. One game this year we just picked up a couple dozen donuts and some beer cheese and that worked out fine as well.
When the game is set for a 3:30 or 7:30 kick-off it is much easier to plan out what kind of food and how much to bring. It is important to make sure you have enough food to go with all of the drinking that is probably going to occur. We always tend to overdo it on food, but I would much rather that be the case than to have too little.


This is also something that definitely depends on what time the game starts/what time you want to start tailgating. As I mentioned, we have had a lot of noon game this year so I have been having a lot of mimosas and bellinis - no complaints here. We generally try to have a small variety of drinks, usually some beer and occasionally bourbon, but again, it really depends on the length of the tailgate.


Because duh. But seriously, you need to bring water or gatorade or something that isn't alcohol. This is good for hydration, but also sometimes you just want something else to drink and this is often forgotten when you are picking up things last minute.


Tailgating and football games are an all day affair. At least in Kentucky, Tennessee, and most of the South that means the temperature can change by twenty degrees from the time you start tailgating to the time the game is over - especially towards the end of the season. Enter: layers. A vest will be your best friend. I have found that as long as it is not forecasted to be literally freezing, a vest is generally enough as long as you are dressed relatively warm otherwise.  It is so much easier to take a vest off and on when you get hot or cold and it is much lighter to carry around. Scarves can also be a key player in dressing for the day and keeping you warm when the sun is coming up and when the sun is going down.

Check out some other great southern traditions at: Celebrate Southern Link-Up!
What are your tailgate essentials?

Have a Great Day, Y'all!


  1. Oh man I sooooo need to go tailgating! It's not fall without it!! You put together a great list of essentials!! Thank you so much for joining J and myself {} for the Celebrate Southern Linkup! I’m pinning your post to our official Celebrate Southern Pin Board now! Cheers!

    1. I am so glad you enjoyed the post! I love the idea of linking up and Celebrating all things Southern and I hope to participate again in the future :)

  2. Great list! I still need to get my large tote monogrammed. I just remembered that after I saw your post! I also agree on the layers! Wear lots and lots of layers! Thanks for sharing and joining Celebrate Southern this week!

    1. Thank you! I struggled a bit because I know there are about a dozen other things that I would probably take, but these truly are some of the essentials - especially the layers with the weather we've been having lately!