8 Tailgating Traditions That Celebrate Football Season

There’s only one thing better than a football game: the tailgate.

Whether you’re a seasoned veteran with the threadbare lucky jersey to prove it or a new fan, spending an afternoon (or all day, we’re not judging) in the sunshine with an endless supply of cold drinks, hot dogs, and team spirit is the perfect way to pass a Saturday.

In honor of everyone’s favorite season — football season — we’ve gathered eight tailgating traditions from VinePair readers to inspire you before the next big game.

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Get Your Pregame On

A tailgate starts with a comfortable chair, a bright blue sky, a fall breeze, and my game-day attire. If I’m lucky, someone brings a grill and cooks me a plate of salmon, shrimp, and crab cakes. But my favorite thing about a tailgate is the hoopla, and my all-time favorite hoopla is watching my team’s marching band pass. I love seeing that long line of focused, happy college kids marching to the beat of the drum line on the way to the stadium. Pure joy. —Lori H.

When football season kicks off, it’s time for tailgating! Time for hanging out with friends, drinking beer, and firing up the grill with your favorite food — hot dogs, burgers, seafood — before cheering on your favorite team. My dad is the designated grill master, and he transports not one but two grills for the occasion. —Abigail B.

Tailgating has been a favorite activity of mine as far back as I can remember, and sometimes even surpasses the excitement of the football game. Meticulous planning is required to get into the stadium — and to your seat so the pregame festivities can begin. Usually, this means packing up all our stuff quickly: chairs thrown in the back of the car, the speaker shut off, and food hastily stored in the coolers we arrived with, noting that most of it has been demolished by hungry fans anticipating the fight ahead. Then there is the “stuff” of the tailgate: pompoms, flags, tables, chairs, utensils, cups, plates, and mega trash bags. Oh, and we can’t forget about the tunes. A boom box and a good playlist are essential while we sit there and soak up the last rays of the setting sun. —Jim M.

My favorite tailgating tradition at the University of Michigan was when my fellow classmates and I would guard the famous “M” during rivalry week so that our rivals couldn’t desecrate it. The “M” is a metal letter on the ground that you don’t step over. If you step on it, you are destined to fail your first blue book exam. We had to protect it at all costs! —Ben C.

Tailgating: The most important part is the people you tailgate with. Lifelong friends, lifelong fans. Then there’s beer and bourbon. —Dale B.

In our first year of hosting the tailgate, we decked out our own set of cornhole: maroon and white, logos, the whole nine yards. Several tailgates (and coats of paint later), it’s still one of the staples. You can’t beat an ice-cold drink in one hand and a bean bag in the other!—John T.

Getting the right music was always a must, no matter who we were playing. It was all about the high-energy beats to set the tone for a big day. Singing “Mr. Brightside” from the top of our lungs was inevitable. It’s a Michigan favorite. — Kyle L.

Tailgate traditions embody the fall season, our school, and the hope we eternally have for winning the football game. The tailgate sets the stage for what lies ahead! – Liz M.