Score Big and Save on Game Day with These Tailgating Hacks

Are you planning the ultimate tailgating experience on a tight budget? Tailgating provides a fantastic opportunity to revel in team spirit and create memories with family and friends. Unfortunately, food, drinks, equipment, and parking costs can add up quickly.

Even with a limited budget, you can host a fantastic tailgate party! It just takes a bit of careful planning and creative thinking. Here's how to pull it off:

1. Make a tailgating game plan

What kind of food are you serving at the tailgate? Do you want to grill burgers on-site? Have a potluck? Show up with pizzas? Sure, certain tailgating traditions exist, but there's no right or wrong here.

If possible, plan your menu several weeks in advance. This gives you time to shop sales, stock up on shelf-stable items, and do any prep work.

2. Keep the tailgate menu simple

You don't have to splurge on costly cuts of meat to have a memorable tailgate party. Classic game-day foods like hot dogs, hamburgers, and sausages are simple and customizable to everyone's taste.

Whatever protein you choose, include some tasty and inexpensive side dishes to complement your main dish. Macaroni and cheese, coleslaw, and potato salad are all crowd-pleasing and easy to make in large quantities.

3. Divide and conquer

Tailgating has one unspoken rule: never show up empty-handed. Guessing what food, beverages, or supplies to bring can overwhelm some guests, so feel free to assign tasks to everyone you invite. And don’t be afraid to make it a BYOB event!

You can streamline the process by sharing a sign-up sheet in a group chat. List the necessary items, discuss dietary preferences, and invite everyone to sign up.

4. Repurpose items you already own

Don't feel pressured to buy new equipment for a tailgate. Plan your menu and activities around items you own or can borrow.

For example, there's no reason to buy a charcoal grill if you already have a small portable grill. Another ingenious tip is to recycle a cardboard six-pack holder to organize napkins, wet wipes, bottle openers, plastic cutlery, and condiments. No need to buy a condiment caddy!

5. Chill out with frozen water bottles

Frozen water bottles serve double duty: they act as ice in your coolers and provide cold drinking water after they melt. Whether you have your own reusable water bottles or decide to purchase bottled water, be sure to leave room for the ice to expand before popping them into the freezer.

6. Get creative with your tailgate storage

Don't forget, you're not just delivering food and supplies to the tailgate — you'll also be bringing back dirty dishes, soiled dish towels, and trash! Any storage containers you use should be able to function for both trips.

For example, a large plastic tub can transport food items and serve as a catch-all for dirty utensils. Pop-up hampers are versatile storage containers for bulky items. You can even line one with a garbage bag and use it as a trash can during the event. Other containers that can help keep your tailgate organized include plastic toolboxes, storage cubes, laundry baskets, and under-the-bed storage containers.

7. Skip the tailgate decorations

It's easy to go overboard with game-day decor, but there are cheaper ways to show your team spirit. Instead, focus on the basics and let your enthusiasm fill in the rest. Bring whatever favorite team items you own, such as banners or jerseys, or wear your team colors.

8. Develop a parking strategy

Parking spots close to the venue come at a premium. Carpooling is the easiest way to save money because you can split the cost of gas and parking.

Alternatively, you can designate one vehicle to park closest to the stadium and serve as the tailgate location. Everyone else can park in cheaper lots and walk or shuttle to the setup. Just remember to check the venue's policy on tailgating, as some parking lots may be off-limits to tailgaters.

9. Choose flexible seating options

Before buying folding chairs for your tailgating guests, consider how you might use your vehicle, coolers, folding mats, or outdoor blankets as seating options. Reminding guests to bring their own chairs or stadium seat cushions is also helpful.

Explore more money-saving tips from Advance America

Considering the cost of tickets alone, game-day expenses can already be overwhelming. Add a tailgate party to the mix, and it may feel like your wallet is ready to crack. Fortunately, a little out-of-the-box thinking, careful planning, and team effort can keep costs in check.

Check out our Money Tips blog for more creative ways to save. And whenever you're in a financial bind, you can count on Advance America for the lending options you need. Visit us today to get started!

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