If you have a hometown football team, then hosting a tailgate for your employees and interns is an awesome idea for a team bonding experience. Even people who don’t follow football will still enjoy the party atmosphere of the tailgate, and football fans will enjoy the opportunity to share the sport with the rest of the company. While corporate tailgating can feel very casual, it still requires a certain level of planning beyond just throwing up a canopy and a portable gas grill. Here’s what you need to know about hosting a corporate tailgate:
Select the venue.
Before you officially announce your tailgate, you’ll need to pick a home game that you want to tailgate and look into getting a block of group tickets for the event. You should also check the facility rules to confirm that tailgating is allowed at the venue and to check any restrictions on capacity, open flames, open containers, and so on. Depending on the venue restrictions, you might need to host your awesome corporate tailgate at another location and then move to the stadium.
Give yourself enough time.
Planning any kind of event for a large group takes time, and this includes corporate tailgating parties. Try to give yourself at least several weeks of lead time, and ideally more if possible. This is especially true if you are planning to contract with outside vendors for your tailgate, whether that involves renting the chairs and canopy or hiring a caterer for the tailgate.
Send out invites early.
As soon as you have a game in mind and have booked your tailgating space (if necessary), it’s time to send out invites to the entire company. Include all necessary information on the invite, including the date, time, where to park, and more. Give people a deadline to RSVP so that you can get a headcount in mind and ensure that there will be enough food and chairs for everyone. You should also ask people to let you know about dietary restrictions so you can make sure that everyone has something to eat at the tailgate.
Plan for inclement weather.
The weather can be rather temperamental during football season, which means that you might not be blessed with a crisp and clear day once the date rolls around. Be prepared for various inclement weather scenarios, including rain, snow, and very cold temperatures. In some cases, the tailgating canopies might provide enough shelters, but in others you might need to move the party indoors to a secondary location. You should also be prepared with blankets and portable heaters and encourage people to wear jackets and other cold weather attire to stay warm and dry.
Get some designated drivers.
Tailgates are a fun time to let loose and, if you have a big group, the odds are pretty high that at least a few people will overindulge either at the tailgate or during the game. That’s why it’s always a good idea to have a transportation plan in place so you’re not trying to figure it out on the fly. If some people are willing to be the designated drivers, that can be a great option, but it might be more feasible for you to offer to arrange cabs or rideshares for people.
Don’t forget about the beverages.
Speaking of needing designated drivers, beer is a must at any tailgate, but it can be fun to have some simple cocktails as well for variety. Also make sure to have plenty of non-alcoholic beverages, including water and sports drinks, so that people can stay hydrated. If the weather is cold, have people bring a thermal cup and serve hot beverages to help them stay warm. And it never hurts to have a cold brew coffee maker or another source of caffeine on hand to keep people’s energy up.
Figure out your menu.
Once you have a headcount, you can start planning your menu either by yourself or in tandem with a caterer. If you are on a budget, turn the tailgate into a potluck and ask people to each bring a different dish. You should have plenty of hard and soft coolers to keep your food and beverages warm or cold as needed. If you are planning to do a cookout, be extra vigilant about keeping the raw and cooked meat at the right temperature and don’t cross contaminate with other food.
Get your gear in order.
A couple days before the tailgate, do a test run of all your gear, from portable gas grills to canopies, to make sure that everything is in working order. Ideally, you should have one chair for every person who is attending and enough canopies that everyone can stand under them if it starts to rain. You should also decorate your tailgate space to make it festive and also easy to spot in a large parking lot.
Have some entertainment set up.
Don’t just leave people to their own devices for the entirety of the tailgate. Instead, have some games like cornhole and spikeball set up so that people can have an activity to do in between eating and chatting. If you have the technology set up, you can also set up a projector and stream other football games to provide some background entertainment for the tailgate.
Clean up your space.
Many stadiums have rules about cleaning up your tailgate before game time, but even if there aren’t official rules, you should leave yourself plenty of time to pack up the food, let the grills cool down, and get everything put away before the game starts. Make sure to also dispose of your trash according to whatever the facility rules are; in most cases, you will need to pack it out yourself and find a dumpster to throw it away.
Have you hosted a corporate tailgate before, or are you just beginning to plan your first one? What are your other tips for hosting a fun tailgate? Let us know in the comments below!