Score Big with These Tailgate Themed Party Ideas

Get ready for game day!

Maddie Sheely

Account Specialist + Contributor

Big fans of the NFL or college football? This is your time to shine! With both seasons off to a hot start, it’s the perfect time to host your own tailgate themed party. Whether it’s a tailgate themed birthday party or just a get-together with your friends to cheer for your favorite sports team, better yet, a big rival game, we’ve got everything you’ll need to impress your friends and guests.

Like any other successful party, this tailgate party theme is complete with food and drinks, entertainment, games, and festive decorations to set the tone. Getting all of this prepared for game day can be stressful, but luckily for you, the party planning professionals (and a University of Alabama graduate) are here to make your tailgate the best on the block!

Keep reading for tailgate themed party inspiration… 

Cornhole, Kan Jam, and Giant Jenga 

Tailgate themed party ideas - lawn gamesPhoto: Cari Griffith/

Set up some lawn games to keep your guests entertained before, during, and after the game is on! We think corn hole, Kan Jam, or giant Jenga are some of the most fun and exciting games for any age. To raise the stakes, you could even set up a tournament for pairs to see who can get the longest winning streak, just like your football team hopefully will.

Face Painter

Tailgate themed party ideas - face painterPhoto: Drazen Zigic/

Just because you aren’t at the game doesn’t mean you can’t rep your team and go all out! Think about booking a local and talented face painter from The Bash to help guests represent their team. This will also be entertaining for the younger guests, keeping them occupied while their parents are busy watching the game.

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Sunday Funday Punch 

Tailgate themed party ideas - Sunday funday punchPhoto: Billion Photos/

Whether your get-together is on Sunday or in the middle of the week, fun drinks are an absolute necessity for your tailgate themed party. Sunday Funday Punch calls for two liters of Sprite, two cups of orange juice, two cups of pineapple juice, two cups of vodka, and one bottle of Prosecco. You can also add sliced oranges and strawberries to give it an extra fruity taste. Either way, this drink is guaranteed to keep guests happy, whether their team wins or not.

Grill It Up

Tailgate themed party ideas - grilled foodPhoto: Sean Locke Photography/

When you think of a tailgate, grilling is probably the first thing that comes to mind. Fire up the grill to make tailgate themed party food like burgers and hot dogs. Include all of the classic fixings like ketchup, mustard, chili, sauerkraut, and more.

Mini Football Toss

Tailgate themed party ideas - mini football tossPhoto: Rob Hainer/

If your party may have some younger guests, a mini football toss is a great way to keep them entertained and having fun while their parents are watching the game. Have plenty of smaller footballs for the kiddos to toss around and play catch with, or set up a board where they aim the footballs into different holes for points.

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Tailgate themed party ideas - buffalo chicken dipPhoto: NSC Photography/

Food is crucial for tailgating, so a staple will definitely be buffalo chicken dip. The best part about this appetizer is how easy it is to make! All you need is chicken (either canned or shredded), hot sauce, cream cheese, ranch dressing, and cheddar cheese. Mix all the ingredients together, transfer to an oven safe tray, top with cheese, and bake. Serve with a variety of crackers, chips, or cut up veggies so guests can dip and enjoy. Get the full recipe from All Things Mamma.

Game Time Banner

Tailgate themed party ideas - game time banner

In case you need to remind anyone what the theme of the event is, add additional decorations like a festive game time party zone banner! If you’re looking for a photo backdrop for your next Instagram post, we love this burlap banner that will add an extra fun to the festivities. 

Big Screen Viewing

Tailgate themed party ideas - big screen viewingPhoto: Nomad_Soul/

Even if the game you’re watching isn’t live, guests will enjoy seeing it on a larger than life inflatable movie screen. Suitable for outdoor use, this screen will allow everyone to see their favorite teams in action. Browse The Bash for movie screen rentals near you.


Tailgate themed party ideas - bartenderPhoto: Master1305/

If you’d rather watch the game than get stuck behind the bar, leave it to the professionals! The Bash has plenty of great bartenders who can focus their energy on making your guests fun drinks, so you can enjoy the tailgate theme party.

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Tailgate Trivia

Tailgate trivia will put all true football fans to the test! Gather trivia questions about the teams you’re watching or even general football trivia to quiz guests and see who can answer the facts the fastest. You’ll definitely want to include prizes for this tailgate themed party idea.

Chicken Wings

Tailgate themed party ideas - chicken wingsPhoto: istetiana/

Wings are an absolute necessity when it comes to game day! Whether you choose to make your own wings or get them delivered, make sure you get a variety of flavors like buffalo, teriyaki, and garlic parmesan. We also recommend getting regular and boneless so everyone can pick and choose what they want. 

Disposable Servingware

Tailgate themed party ideas - disposable servingware

To avoid a major clean up after your event, you’ll want to stock up on paper plates, napkins, plastic utensils, plastic cups, and these football themed paper bowls. This small detail will help carry out the tailgate feel and minimize the mess.

Cherry Limeade Mocktails 

Tailgate themed party ideas - cherry lime mocktailsPhoto: stockstudios/

Cherry limeade mocktails are a great non-alcoholic option for everyone to enjoy at the tailgate themed party. Make this simple drink with one liter of Sprite, one cup of lime juice, and a half cup of grenadine. Add cherries and lime wedges to each glass for a bright and bold garnish.

Photo Booth

Tailgate themed party ideas - photo boothPhoto: PintoArt/

Pictures are one of the most important parts of any get-together! If you’re searching for fun tailgate party theme ideas, think about renting a photo booth from The Bash. Guests will be able to take pictures throughout the celebration to take home or post on Instagram afterwards. Ask the photo booth vendors about their prop options, they might have football themed accessories and backdrops for the tailgate party.

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Whiskey Ginger Cocktail 

Tailgate themed party ideas - whiskey ginger cocktailPhoto: Brent Hofacker/

For a less sweet drink option, the whiskey ginger cocktail may be a great alternative! This recipe is simple, just using your favorite whiskey or bourbon, ginger ale, a fresh lime wedge garnish. This drink is as delicious as it is simple to make!

Turf Table Runner 

Score extra points at your tailgate themed party by decorating tables with football inspired accessories. We love this turf grass runner that goes down the center of the table, the perfect place to display the different tailgate themed party food and drinks. Plus, this backdrop will help make for a perfect photo opportunity of the delicious spread. 

CrockPot Meals

Tailgate themed party ideas - CrockPot mealsPhoto: stockcreations/

If your guests ask if there’s anything they can bring, invite them to make their favorite easy CrockPot meal. Not only does it make travel a breeze, but guests will be able to try other foods and swap recipes along the way. CrockPot meals and game day go hand and hand. Plus, who doesn’t enjoy a good potluck?


Tailgate themed party ideas - caricaturistPhoto: StefanoVenturi75/

Another fun tailgate themed party idea is hiring a caricaturist! Guests can get personal drawings done before kick-off or during half time so they have a souvenir to bring home. This is the perfect keepsake to commemorate the best tailgate party they’ve ever been to.

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Prediction Board 

Tailgate themed party ideas - prediction boardPhoto: Andy Dean Photography/

Start some friendly competition with a score prediction board to make guesses before the game. Guests will use their football knowledge and intuition to see who can most accurately predict the final score, first touchdown, first team with a penalty, anything! Each guess can be worth points and whoever gets the most points wins.

Football Lanterns

Tailgate themed party ideas - football lanterns

Decorations don’t just have to stop with your tables! Whether your party is indoors or you’re having an outdoor tailgate, these paper lantern footballs will add the perfect festive touch to your celebration.

Taco Layer Dip

Tailgate themed party ideas - taco layer dipPhoto: Carey Jaman/

Another classic tailgate themed party food you can’t go wrong with is taco layer dip. For this one, you’ll need refried beans, guacamole, sour cream, cream cheese, taco seasoning, black olives, pico de gallo, and green onions. Serve with tortilla chips or veggies for another simple yet delicious tailgate themed party food.

Team Desserts

Tailgate themed party ideas - team dessertsPhoto: Globalphotogroup/

Of course, you can’t forget about dessert! Make or buy some football themed desserts, even better if they represent the teams you’re watching. Stick with the classics like cupcakes, cookies, or brownies so guests can have something sweet after enjoying the classic tailgate spread.

Live Band

Tailgate themed party ideas - live bandPhoto: 13_Phunkod/

We know for big rival games, or even playoff games, your tailgate may be a full day event. Think about hiring live to perform for you and your guests and add an extra *kick*to your tailgate party! Choose from rock bands, acoustic artists, or maybe even a marching band to complete the tailgate atmosphere. Get inspiration from our favorite football inspired playlist for song request ideas.

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Soft Drinks

Tailgate themed party ideas - soft drinksPhoto: Olesia Bilkei/

If you don’t want to mix up big batches of drinks, you can’t go wrong with plenty of soft drink options. Stick with a variety of soda, juice, and water, which will be important to keep everyone hydrated for the tailgate.

Game Day Attire

Tailgate themed party ideas - game day attirePhoto: Sean Locke Photography/

When you send out the invites, the most important detail to include is encouraging everyone to wear their best game day attire. Whether fans choose their college team, one from the NFL, or a different sport all together, jerseys and team apparel will be the perfect finishing touches.

Find more party ideas and inspiration here on The Bash.

Published on 12/1/2023