Sports and college experiences are different in the COVID-19 era, but the fun doesn’t have to stop. As a means of keeping people safe and socially-distant, a lot of colleges have decided to temporarily disallow traditional tailgating, and some have entirely prohibited live spectators at sport events. So, why not create your own awesome tailgate party at home? Whether you’re hosting a tailgate party in your dorm room or at your house, you can still have a memorable experience that celebrates your school team and shows pride for your campus colors!
Why a Home Tailgate Party is Actually Really Cool
- You don’t lose your friends in the tailgate parking lot. Your buddies are congregated in one spot, so you can enjoy all of the excitement and the game together.
- You don’t have to worry about the weather. There’s nothing more frustrating than when a sweltering-hot day, a rainstorm, or freezing temperatures kills the mood of a tailgate. Hosting a dorm or home tailgate party means you can move the party inside with ease to steer clear of the elements.
- You have access to bathrooms, water, and other amenities that keep you happy and safe during the game.
- You can keep tailgating during the game. Plus, you don’t have to sit in traffic or walk miles to get to the stadium for kickoff.
- If you’re a sports fan, you’ll appreciate the close-ups, replays, and commentary that come with watching the game on television.
- For a lot of folks, tailgating at home is less expensive than trying to tailgate in the city or at the stadium.
- Tailgating at home or in your dorm with just a few people in your circle can keep everyone safe and healthy. Fewer people means less stress about catching or spreading COVID-19. (However, if you’re indoors, you want to practice social distancing. We’re still in the middle of a pandemic, so try to be mindful of your guests’ safety.)
We know you’re probably missing that buzz of excitement experienced in the stadium and the social aspect of a typical tailgate party. But, having a tailgate at home can be even more fun if you have the right tailgating gear and a fun-loving attitude!
Home Tailgating Essentials
One of the reasons we love tailgating at home is that you can watch all the preliminary action and the game itself right from your tailgate. It’s like a two-for-one experience with a party that goes on all day long! So, if you’re hosting a tailgate party at home or in your dorm, make sure you have a television hooked up with the game playing through cable or WiFi.
You’ll want to decide how many people to invite to your party based on how much seating you can fit around the TV for game time (unless you know there are a few friends who won’t watch the game because they care more about the food and socializing.) Dorm rooms aren’t big, so you’ll want to make sure you don’t overstuff the room, especially with social distancing guidelines.
Can’t decide who to invite? Fill your home with serious game-day fans who proudly don their school colors and can’t wait for kickoff. Or, invite the ones who bring the best desserts, which brings us to…
No tailgating party is complete without great food. Have a game plan for how you’ll approach food preparation. You don’t want to spend the whole party in the kitchen while everyone else is having fun and watching the game in another room.
We recommend selecting foods that are fast and easy to make, or those that you can prepare in advance. Grilling is always an awesome go-to, but if you don’t have access to a grill, try sandwiches and finger foods like pigs in a blanket, chicken tenders, meat and veggie skewers, and DIY nachos. We’re always fans of a nacho bar! Of course, if it comes down to it, you can just order pizza and wings from a local joint that everyone loves; it will be a smash hit.
To keep your friends safe amidst COVID-19, you may want to create single-serve or pre-packaged meals, rather than a shared pizza or buffet-style meals. This minimizes people touching shared food, while making it easy to grab some goodies for the game. For example, you can throw three or four meat skewers in a Ziploc bag and encourage your friends to take a whole bag. Or you can pack mason jars full of salad fix-ins for the health-conscious tailgating guests. You may also want to label the food in case any of your friends have allergies.
You can’t tailgate without a beverage in your hand. Whether it’s alcoholic (if you’re over 21) or non-alcoholic, drinks are tailgate essentials. We recommend you separate drinks into coolers or organize them in the fridge based on “type,” like water, soda, beer, hard seltzer, mixed drinks, etc. This makes it easy to find the drink you’re looking for and get back to the party. You may also want to offer coffee to keep tailgating guests awake and partying throughout the day.
You need somewhere to set up the food, so why not make it look festive? There are a lot of cool tablescape designs on Pinterest, from fancy to rustic to spirited. You can make the table look like a football field, or cover it in your school’s colors and mascot icons. Get creative and have fun decorating the table with cool game- or team-inspired accessories.
Don’t forget to get napkins, plates, cups, and silverware in your school colors! We recommend sticking to disposable dinnerware this year to avoid spreading germs.
No party is complete without the tailgate essentials: your game-day spirit and school colors! That means throwing on a T-shirt or sweatshirt with your school name, painting your face, putting on a white team cap, or getting involved in some classic college traditions and rituals with your buddies. You want to wear your school colors to show pride for your team, and you’ll instantly get in the spirit of the tailgate.
Campus Colors makes it easy for you to get all the gear you need for game day. Just find your school on this list, and browse all the official NCAA-licensed clothing and accessories. You’ll love cheering for your team in these spirited essentials!
Tailgaters love getting into the competitive spirit with games. Indulge that competitiveness and keep your guests busy with fun activities. Even if you’re in a dorm room, you can make games work with a little creativity.
Some cool games you can play indoors in your dorm include:
- Cornhole toss
- Fantasy draft for the game
- Giant Jenga
- Card games
- Game day bingo
- Water pong
- Flip cup
- Sports video games (before and after the game)
- Other DIY tailgating games
Feeling extra competitive? Offer prizes for the winners, like fun or fuzzy school socks or even a team hat. Spirit accessories will definitely get people involved in some awesome games! You can even have a costume contest for whoever shows up with the most spirited tailgate gear on.
Fun Tailgating Accessories
These fun tailgating accessories feel like essentials to us, but you’ll want to check out what works for your budget, space, and tailgating style. Check out this list of tailgating gear to take your home party to the next level:
- Team stickers or temporary tattoos
- College flags
- Foam fingers
- Team street sign
- Party favors
- Balloon banners in school colors
- Team-colored confetti
- School spirit shot glasses
- Drink markers (so people don’t accidentally share drinks—a necessity during COVID-19)
- Foldable/collapsible chairs for seating
- Blankets for comfort and warmth
- Outdoor tent (if held outdoors)
Let’s Get to the Tailgate
Just because the tailgate looks different this year doesn’t mean it has to be less fun. You can still indulge in all your favorite gameday activities, like delicious food, socializing with friends, and dressing in your school colors. The party just requires a few tweaks and updates to make it work in your dorm room or home. We can’t wait to celebrate the upcoming sports seasons with you!