College students smiling and talking around a grill during a college football tailgate.
Student Life

Tailgating Tips for College Football Game Days

The excitement of a good college tailgate can add a lot to game day. From the food to the friends and beyond, there’s a specific energy you can find at tailgate parties, where a bunch of people come together to enjoy each other’s time and support a team they love.

Varsity knows that for many students, tailgating is a quintessential college experience. That’s why we’ve taken some time to put together a few tips and tailgating ideas to add organization and creativity to your next outing.

Prepare in Advance

Depending on the size of the college tailgate, how many people you expect to attend, and what type of food you intend to have, the amount of advanced preparation is liable to change. However, almost always, you can expect to dedicate some time to bring all of your college football tailgate essentials together.

You may need to marinate some kebabs overnight, grab ice for the cooler, slice up burgers and veggies for a build-a-burger option, so on and so forth. Tailgates are incredibly versatile events, and they can be extraordinarily fun if you know what you want and give yourself time to get everything ready.

Get There Early

On the day of the event, if you’re the host, you need to be there early. In addition to grabbing a good spot, arriving early gives you ample time to decorate your spot and prep food for the game. Flags, banners, and outdoor games like cornhole and horseshoe can quickly eat up the time you need to prepare for tailgating.

Dress in the Spirit of the College Tailgate

Diversify your college tailgate clothes! Obviously, if you’re new to the tailgating life, then wear whatever school-related clothes you have on hand to save money. If this isn’t your first rodeo, however, mix things up with new accessories to keep your attire fresh.

You should also keep the forecast in mind. It may be cloudy and chilly in the morning, but reach clear skies and a toasty 85 degrees by kickoff. When in doubt, layers are your best friend at a tailgate.

If you aren’t one for a more explosive color palette, keep things subdued with mostly neutral wear, and then add a school-themed scarf or socks to match the occasion.

Interesting Food Ideas

Perhaps the most versatile aspect of a college tailgate party is the options you have for food. The only true rule is to have a variety of options so that nobody is left out. This means at least one meat (a lot of tailgates will feature several types of meat), a veggie option (often a veggie tray for the colorful assortment), and some kind of starch (mashed potatoes, sandwiches).

But that’s just a baseline. If you want to switch things up, try throwing in some chicken quesadillas, vegetarian chili, black bean and pineapple salad, mini BLT sliders, and more.

Obviously, the more people you intend to have, the more food you’ll need, so come prepared. If necessary, ask others to bring food dishes to share, or split the food costs so no one person is footed with a large bill.

Share the Love with Zelle

It’s easy to split up a bill and share money with your friends with modern transaction apps, such as Zelle. Fortunately, Varsity accounts support Zelle, which makes sending and receiving money incredibly easy, and more time can be spent thinking about tailgating prep instead of who is paying who.

Learn more about Zelle and other products in our Digital Toolkit, or open an account with us today!

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