The perfect tailgate party in your living room

Shannon Lee | Improvement Center Columnist | August 3, 2015

A good tailgate is a summer tradition. There are few things as enjoyable as good friends, cold beer, excellent food, and the anticipation of seeing your favorite team fight it out with a worthy opponent.

But what if you can't make it to the game? What if you are too far away from your beloved team? What if - as insane as it sounds - your team is playing at a stadium that doesn't allow tailgating?

A truly dedicated fan will always find a way. The at-home tailgate, right there in your living room, can turn what would have been a ho-hum day into a party of epic proportion.

Perfecting the at-home tailgate party

When planning the ultimate tailgate party, there are a few very important essentials. Some of these are obvious - others, not so much. Start your planning well in advance to make sure you hit all the must-haves.

  1. Team colors. You must present the colors of your team in every form possible. This means everything from flags flying, jerseys pinned to the walls for ambiance, and paper plates that match the theme. A tailgating tent with your team's logo is a nice touch.
  2. Simple setups. A tailgate isn't fancy or pretentious. The perfect tailgate party makes good use of plastic forks, disposable plates, and of course, the traditional Solo cup. Forget the craft beer - spring for a keg. If you have anything flashy at all, make it the behemoth grill.
  3. Traditional food. Speaking of the grill, make sure it's hot and ready to go, because you will be cooking a lot of culinary goodness. Think everything from hot dogs and burgers to wings and ribs. A big grill is good for this; if your friends want to bring their grills, the more the merrier. Bonus points if you go the charcoal route.
  4. The right music. Choose music that makes everyone want to move, just like what you'd hear blasting over the arena's system. Then crank it to 11! Listen to the tunes until the pregame show starts.
  5. A few games of your own. Everyone loves some competition - that's why they're all there in anticipation of the big game, right? Spark some competitive spirit in your backyard with the classics like cornhole, flag football, and of course, beer pong.
  6. Plenty of room to sit. No matter how much adrenaline is rushing around your tailgate party, eventually you and your guests will get a bit tired. Ask everyone to bring their own lawn chairs, and when you move inside to watch the game, make sure everyone has a comfortable place to sit.
  7. An impressive television. Sure, the tailgate party might be over when the game starts, but the fun has really just begun! Bring everyone inside and park them in front of the big television. Set a few ground rules, like no throwing beer at the screen. Then cheer your team on to the big win!

You don't have to go it alone when planning out the ultimate party in your living room. Enlist friends to bring a few essentials; for instance, assign someone the paper products, while another brings charcoal, and yet another springs for a keg. If everyone pitches in, the costs go down, and the atmosphere becomes even friendlier.

Keeping it responsible

Tailgating is a rollicking good time, filled with friends and excitement and, of course, a bit of alcohol. That's why it's important to stay aware of just how much of a good time all your guests are having. The last thing you want is a guest driving home who has had too much to drink.

In some areas, if someone gets a DUI, the person who served them the drinks might be held liable as well. Help keep your friends safe (and yourself out of legal hot water) by cutting off the alcohol at least one hour before the game is over, requiring those who aren't sober enough to hand over their keys, and enlisting a few of your most trusted friends to serve as designated drivers. Here are a few other safe party options, courtesy of MADD.

A good tailgate should give you the opportunity to spend time with friends, cheer on your team, and maybe even save a bit of money in the process. With the proper planning and game-day spirit, you can have a party to remember.

Photo credit to Kevin Irby

About the Author

Shannon Lee is a freelance journalist and occasional novelist with a serious weakness for real estate. When she's not writing, she and her husband are taking road trips to explore covered bridges, little wineries and quaint bed-and-breakfast inns in their beloved Pennsylvania.