A guest helping grill at a tailgate

Tailgate Etiquette: Tips for Being a Great Guest

What would football games be without tailgating? Tailgating is one of the most adored football season traditions, and the majority of the fun and excitement comes from spending quality time with friends and family. As a guest at these fun events, you do have some responsibilities of your own to help out the host and ensure that everything goes smoothly. Even though tailgates have a very relaxed atmosphere, etiquette is equally as important here as it is at a dinner party. If everyone at the tailgate does their part and helps out when needed, you’re guaranteed to have a fantastic time supporting your favorite team (no matter if they win or lose). Here are some tailgating tips you can use for when the first home game rolls around in a few short weeks and you’re about to hit the pavement, ready to have a good time. 

Make sure to bring something.

If you are invited to a tailgate, the first question you’ll probably ask your host is, “Do I need to bring anything?” The answer to that question is always yes, so a better question would be, “What should I bring?” because you never want to show up to a tailgate empty-handed. You’ll be munching on everyone else’s food and drinks, so you’ll need to pitch in as well. Allow your host to dictate what you need to bring because he knows what others are bringing and what still needs to be brought. 

If he doesn’t tell you anything specific, you can make that decision yourself and bring some drinks or make some easy tailgate recipes. Don’t be that guy who only brings a six pack of Keystone light and expects food and drinks from everyone else. Bring something to the football tailgate that you enjoy yourself and that you think others would enjoy as well. If all else fails, pick up some tailgate party supplies, like paper plates, utensils, and cups, because somehow those always seem to be forgotten. 

Help the host out.

At the tailgate itself, the host may get a bit overwhelmed if he is the one doing the majority of the cooking and setting up. You and the other tailgaters should offer to help out with whatever needs to be done. If he needs help grilling some hot dogs or taking the trash to the dumpster, do it without complaint. You want to tailgate before games all season long, so you don’t want your host to get burned out, right? Assist your host in manning the tailgate grills and refilling plates of chicken wings, so all of the responsibility isn’t on him. 

Once the game starts, a lot of people will probably leave their trash and head to the stadium, so you should spend at least 10-15 minutes helping the host clean up the tailgate tents and surrounding areas. If you work together, it won’t take very long to complete, plus if you’re chatting and drinking beer, it won’t even feel like a chore!

Don’t disrespect your host or anyone else.

Now that you know how you should conduct yourself at a tailgate, what should you refrain from doing? During the tailgate, you’ll probably find yourself moseying around and stopping at other’s tailgating parties, and most people are friendly enough to offer you some food or a beer. The main thing you need to remember is to be appreciative of those people because you did not contribute anything to their parties, and they’re still letting you eat and drink with them. Don’t take advantage of their generosity and guzzle four of their beers and a whole plate of chicken wings because you probably won’t be welcome back after that. Just be courteous and offer to help cook or clean up, and they will never have a problem with you being there. 

Even at your own host’s tailgate, there are a few things you should refrain from doing, like don’t use other’s chairs, coolers, or anything without asking. When in doubt, it’s always a good idea to go above and beyond for your fellow tailgaters because that’s what you would want them to do in return. And, most importantly, have a blast!

Last Updated: August 27, 2015