Fresh air, fall foliage, tasty treats, and showing up to support our favorite and soccer teams: a weekend afternoon doesn’t get much better than a good, not-so-old-fashioned tailgate. But maybe, like us, you’ve often thought, Tailgating is incredible fun . . . but does it have to be so ugly and uncomfortable? If so, the answer is an emphatic no, and this post, dear upscale tailgater, is for you.
To get in the school- or pro-game tailgating spirit, Annie came up with these six simple tips:
- Start by choosing tailgating items that coordinate with your team’s colors. Sure, some color combos are more challenging than others (hello, purple and gold!) but do a little bit of chair, blanket, pillow, and rug sleuthing, and you’ll never have to settle for the tacky official gear sold in big-box stores. Here we went with a blue-and-white theme. Note that the blues don’t match exactly in every product, but all are complementary.
- Make friends with the 3’ x 5’ and 4’ x 6’ indoor/outdoor rug. Not only can these be tossed on the ground, in lieu of thin picnic blankets, for extra protection from the chilly and lumpy ground, but they also make terrific truck-bed liners for any pre-game festivities in the parking lot. (Cleanup is a breeze. See what we mean?) For this setup, we chose three 3’ x 5 blue rugs in different patterns—a wide stripe, a diamond, and an Indian-inspired tile.
- Pack comfy seating options. Our crew likes variety in back and butt support, so we went with directors’ chairs padded with striped indoor/outdoor pillows, plus indoor/outdoor poufs and indoor/outdoor floor pillows (aka, the WOUF).
- You can never have enough throws. The fall weather is notoriously volatile here in the Northeast; it might be bright and sunny in the morning and cloudy, drizzly, and windy by lunch. Keeping a bunch of woven cotton throws and knit throws on hand will ensure that you stay cozy till the very last goal or touchdown.
- Don’t forget the table linens. Why bother with flimsy napkins that get carried away on a whisper of a breeze when you can use (and reuse, all day long) sturdy, substantial cotton napkins and polypropylene indoor/outdoor placemats that look as great as they perform? After the game, simply toss the napkins in the washing machine, and hose off the placemats or clean them in the tub. They’ll dry looking as good as new.
- Look adorable hauling your tailgating goodies in easy-care tote bags. We love polypropylene weaves for outdoor activities, because they can stand up to all sorts of nature- and people-related abuse. Here we chose three different patterns, and used the tote bags for carrying throws and team paraphernalia, picnic supplies, and ice and drinks.
A few other tailgating essentials:
- A four-wheel wagon for moving your tailgate setup on and off the field with ease.
- A heavy-duty cooler, preferably on wheels, for food and drinks.
- Plastic utensils and plates—another chance to get colorful and show your team spirit! Don’t forget the incidentals like bottle openers.
- A small folding table for keeping food, plates, and cups off the ground and away from creepy-crawlies.
- Two large garbage bags for simplified cleanup; one for disposable items and food scraps, and one for recyclables.
- Binoculars, in case you’re seated away from the main action, and a digital camera or smartphone to catch your favorite moments.
- Sunblock, lip balm, and sunglasses, for sunny days.
- Hand sanitizer or wet wipes.
- A rain poncho or umbrella.