Tailgating 101

Everything you need to stage an impromptu parking lot picnic.

By Melinda Page and Ashley Tate
Fried chicken meal with beerJames Baigrie


There are three kinds of tailgating, and only one of them is fun (the other two involve road rage and shady financial transactions). The football and NASCAR kind takes its name from the tailgates of cars and trucks, which make an ideal place to stage an impromptu picnic in a parking lot. According to tailgating aficionados, if there's no game or race involved, it's not a tailgate―it's just a picnic.

Bring Along…

Besides the basics―grill, cooler, grub―pack up a box of the most commonly forgotten items:

  • Bottle opener and corkscrew.
  • Water to douse the hot coals or an ashcan to discard them in.
  • Trash bags (not cleaning up after yourself is considered bad form).
  • Paper towels or napkins, and moist towelettes if you serve something messy.
  • A slicing knife.
  • A tablecloth, to make sure your tailgate is civilized.
  • Frozen bottles of water in the cooler instead of ice, so you'll have cold drinks when the game is over.
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Quick Tip

Blue ice cube tray

A few days before a party, start making ice and storing it in baggies in the freezer.