A lot of business owners ask us…where do I start when I decide to throw a corporate tailgate party for my company?

We had a great client call earlier this fall and basically said “HELP! My boss told me to plan a corporate tailgate party….AND I’VE NEVER BEEN TO A TAILGATE BEFORE!” After I assured her that everything would be ok (and cried a little for her inside myself for her lack of tailgating) we mapped out a plan of action. So I thought it might be a great idea to share it with you guys as well.

The first thing you want to think about is how many people will be planning on coming to your tailgate.

If it’s a small gathering of 5-10 people, you might be able to get away with a canopy, table and chairs. You’ll most likely want to bring a cooler with either some snacks and drinks for before (and after). If someone in your group loves to grill, you could also grab one of THESE┬ásmall grills. The box even comes with a lot of the supplies you’ll need for the smaller group.

Corporate Tailgate: Food

If your like most companies we deal with, your group will be much larger. If you are expecting 15 people or more, you’ll want to probably think about catering your event – unless someone in the group loves to smoke meats and/or grill. Keep in mind that most smoked meats take a while to cook, so those might have to be done beforehand.

If you decide to cater the event, get a general headcount of how many can make it and decide what kind of food you want to bring in. If your tailgating guests are coming in from out of town, they might want a taste of of the south, so you could go Tex-Mex. Check with a few local restaurants around the stadium and ask them if they will come and set everything up for you. This is a huge help as you’ll be doing other things like decorating and coordinating pickup/drop off as well.

BBQ is always a good option, and can give out-of-towners that Texas feel as well. A good mix of 2-3 different meats and some large helpings of side dishes should get you covered. You can sometimes find places that will come out, set up, serve and even clean up for the right price.

It’s also a good idea to pick food that is already cut up. Sometimes people might be standing and eating, so you’ll want to get something that they won’t need a knife to eat.

corporate tailgate decorations

It’s always a good idea to decorate your tables to class-up the tailgate

You’ll want a few tables as well depending on how many people you think might sit down and eat. It’s also a good idea to get a few taller cocktail tables so people will have somewhere to set down their drinks and plates while they are standing.

You’ll also want table cloths (some rental companies will provide these with the tables) or you can pick up some of your own. I’m a big fan of THESE because they don’t blow away and look great too. You can also purchase table cloths featuring team logos and colors at Party City. They will have other decorations too, including napkins/plates/balloons etc.

Corporate Tailgate: Protection from the Elements

Canopies are always a good idea when you are hosting a tailgate. It keeps food cooler and keeps people out of the sun. The typical pop up canopy is 10 foot square and will comfortably fit around 5-10 people. If you have a table for your food, that will take up some room, so plan for an extra canopy for food and drinks.

Corporate Tailgate Canopy

Rental companies can provide canopies like this one

If you have a huge group, you might want to think about bringing in a larger canopy like the one shown in the picture on the right. A rental company will charge you around $600 for a 20×20 so plan your budget accordingly.

If the weather will be cold, it might be a good idea to add some canopy walls and few tank-top heaters like THIS ONE. Many rental companies will also rent stand up heaters as well, but keep in mind these will usually have to placed outside the canopies.

Corporate Tailgate: Beverages

What kind of crowd are you hosting? A few coolers of beer and water is definitely the easiest, but if you are looking to really impress, a nicely stocked bar can make for a great tailgate. Find out what type of group will be attending your tailgate. You might also consider hiring a bartender to work your tailgate.

Don’t forget the water and bring extra if the weather will be hot as people might drink a little more.

If you are hosting out-of-towners, find a few local liquors or wines and include them. If you contact the companies directly (and depending on the size of your tailgate) you might even get them to throw a few bottles in for free.

Corporate tailgate bar

What kind of drinks will you need at your tailgate?

Are kids coming? Juice boxes or Capri Suns are a huge hit for the kids, so if they are coming, make sure to have something for them as well.

Corporate Tailgate: Entertainment

What will your guests be doing at the tailgate? It’s always a good idea to have some sort of TV setup to watch other games that day. Find out what is on that day and determine what type of TV setup you’ll need. Will you need satellite because the big game is on ESPN? You can check out our rental options HERE.

If there is not a lot on TV (maybe you’re attending a Monday Night Football game) you might be ok with just getting a decent PA speaker with a bluetooth connection for playing music.

It’s also a good idea to have a few tailgating games like cornhole, washers or a football to toss around.

Make sure you give everyone attending directions on where they will park and how they can find your tailgate in the parking lot. You can fly your company flag/banners or tie balloons to vehicles around your tailgate to make it easily recognizable.

That’s a decent start to a corporate tailgate. What did I miss? Feel free to leave a comment below and I can update the post with additional tips as they come up. Thanks again for checking us out and enjoy your tailgate!