Football fans live and die by the action on the field. There’s no better way to prepare to see the gladiators of the gridiron go at it than with a pregame tailgate party.

For decades, fans have packed into stadium parking lots to mingle with fellow football fanatics while enjoying food and copious amounts of alcohol. For some, the pregame tailgate party is more enjoyable than the game itself, thanks to the camaraderie on display. While scoring a ticket to the game itself can be a costly proposition, tailgating is anything but, especially if you use these tips to maximize the tailgating experience.

A guy tailgating at a football game.

Tailgating” by Pint of Bitter is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

How Much Does it Cost?

Just like the offensive or defensive gameplan coaches draw up, tailgating can vary wildly from week to week. Thankfully, you don’t need to break the bank to have a good time. Remember: once fans get inside the stadium, they’ll be barraged with expensive beers, brats, and other items.

Keep it simple and cheap by relying on the staples: hot dogs, sausages, light beer, and a wide variety of chips and snacks. Of course, there’s no rule against going all-out with expensive grub — just don’t be surprised when a rowdy mob of football fans makes quick work of that shrimp cocktail or cooler full of craft beer. Decor may increase your total bill, but the best accessories can be used for multiple tailgating parties.

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How To Throw Your Tailgate Party

A great team never makes it to game day without a detailed plan of attack. The same should be said for the folks planning a great tailgate party. There are some essentials that need to be worked out ahead of time if you want everyone to enjoy the festivities. Master these basic tailgating tips, and you’ll be able to keep everyone happy before kickoff.

  • Follow a Schedule

Those who fail to prepare are preparing to fail. It’s important to keep a schedule not only on game day, but also in the several days leading up to it. Are the best deals on snacks and beer to be had on a Friday? Mark it on the calendar. Should the ribs be smoked ahead of time? Write it down. A detailed schedule will act as a roadmap to greatness on gameday.

  • Understand Stadium Policies

Every college and NFL stadium has different rules for tailgating — and whether or not certain items can or cannot be used. Checking these policies is critical. You don’t want to show up on game day with a charcoal grill or propane tank, just to be turned away at the gates.

  • Make a Supplies Checklist

The best way to cut a tailgate short and send everyone into the stadium somber (or sober) is to forget an important item like a cooler full of beer or an entire supply of hot dogs.

  • Use Coolers for Food & Drink

This one should be a no-brainer, but some fans might be too excited on gameday to think rationally. Keeping foods cold before they go on the grill is important, not only for food safety reasons, but also to keep hungry sports fans from flinging frozen hamburgers like they’re footballs. While some tailgate parties may be held in the frozen tundra of a Midwestern parking lot in late December, the chill in the air is no substitute for a cooler.

  • Reserve a Great Spot

A prime parking space can serve as the perfect tailgating spot. The proximity to the stadium can be either a detriment or a luxury, depending on who you ask. A close spot will lead to plenty of stragglers from other tailgate parties passing by as they make their way into the game. On the other hand, those who prefer a more laid-back tailgating experience will want a parking space far away from the field.

  • Set Up a Canopy & Seating

Keep everyone comfortable and shielded from the elements by supplying a canopy and plenty of seating. Ironically enough, actually sitting on the tailgate area of a truck isn’t comfortable at all, so bring actual chairs to sit on.

  • Help Guests Find You

NFL stadium parking lots can fill up fast, making it difficult to find one particular tailgate party in a sea of supporters. Use social media to let your friends and family know where you’re set up. Help them locate you by flying a distinct flag from the top of your vehicle. Another solution? Tell them to look for the lifesize cardboard cutouts of specific players from your favorite football team.

  • Fire Up Your Grill (BBQ Optional)

From New York to New Orleans and everywhere in-between, NFL and college football fans love to grill on gameday. Remember to check those stadium policies to make sure it’s allowed!

Grilling at a tailgate.

Tailgating for a Book #2” by DDFic is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

  • Get Food Ready

Thawing the hot dogs, loading up the ketchup and mustard bottles, and unpacking the chips and snacks are just a few of the pregame tasks that must be done before everyone can enjoy the festivities.

  • Provide Outdoor Fun

A tailgate party is about so much more than eating and drinking before the game. Make the party a game unto itself with cornhole, footballs to throw around, and even target practice by pelting a cardboard cutout of a rival player with various items.

  • Be a Friendly Neighbor

Few fans of the opposing team dare tailgate at a football game, but do be friendly to the ones who decide to show up. It’s all fun and games after all.

  • Clean Up

The only losers at a tailgate party are those who don’t clean up after themselves. Make sure everything goes into the trash, the recycling, or back in vehicles for use at the next party.


Get Game Day Ready With Cardboard Cutout Standees

From decor to games, cardboard cutouts can amp up every aspect of your tailgating experience. We are pleased to provide a variety of options, such as life-sized and BigHead cutouts. Visit our website to start creating your own — or contact us to learn more about this exciting opportunity.


  • Jason Frank

    Jason Frank is the Co-Founder and Vice President at Cardboard Cutout Standees. After 25 years of selling factory automation he started the company with one of his college roommates. The company has grown to one of the largest providers of large format custom printed products in the United States. Along with the namesake cardboard cutout standees, they also provide BigHeads, Point of Purchase Displays, Wall Murals, and Wall Decals to a diverse client base across the US and Canada. When not focused on the business, you usually find Jason either on the road biking or our in the woods and fields of western Wisconsin.

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