National Tailgating Day, the first Saturday in September, kicks off the season of parking lot BBQ, team-spirit and a festive atmosphere that says “Hey! Sports are happening!” If “sportsball” is not your thing, or you want to save some coin and watch the game at home, there’s no reason you can’t tailgate in your own front yard, driveway or nearby parking lot! You need 3 key things: food, friends and fans. Read on for ways to party on.

tailgate kid photo: redagainPatti via flickr

1. Food: Fire Up the Grill

Grill, grill and then grill some more. Try some tailgate-worthy skewer combos your kids will love (bonus: you don’t need to pack forks!). If you need the perfect BBQ chicken recipe, we’ve got you. Mix up a batch of lemonade that’s chug-worthy to keep things fresh. And what tailgating party is complete without some form of a drinking game? Try a root beer belching contest, if you dare!

tailgating kids photo: GoonSquadSarah via flickr 

2. Friends: Circle the Wagons

Invite some friends over to park in your driveway or take over a nearby parking lot of a park or a closed-on-weekends parking lot. (Naturally, you’re going to obey trespassing and local laws about public space). Or just pop open your trunk in your own driveway. Use your trunk as a space to hold the cooler of drinks and other cooking supplies if you don’t have an actual tailgate to sit on, or make it into a cozy spot for the kiddos with blankets and pillows, coloring books and crayons and a few books. Encourage kids to bring out their toy trucks, too and make a little mini-party for vehicles, dolls or stuffed animals. Bonus points if said animals match the mascot of your team. Be sure and bust out all your camp chairs, too. 

No truck/car/driveway? No problem. Load up a wagon load of goodies for your party and head to the nearest park. Be sure and pack at least one toy truck to really keep it real.

tailgating wagon kidsphoto: Neon Tommy via flickr

3. Fans: Smells Like Team Spirit

Keep cozy with blankets, scarves and hats in your favorite team colors. Most importantly, show your real spirit with fac epaint. No tailgating party is complete without colorful face paint in team colors or in honor of a beloved mascot. Line them up and paint those stripes—or just paint them into a kitty, that’s fine too. Adults can take turns painting the kids faces and the kiddos can paint a grown-up face or two. Keep some wet wipes on hand to keep things, ahem, slightly in control. This collection of games to play on Superbowl Sunday has a ton of activities you can adapt for your tailgating party, or just bring a football to toss around. 

Got ideas for tailgating with the kids (or without the tailgate)? Let us know! 

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—Amber Guetebier