10 essentials for the Homecoming tailgate


Austin Yattoni

Cheerleaders perform during the Big Ten Tailgate before the game against Minnesota at Memorial Stadium on Saturday October 29.

By Julie Kang, Contributing Writer

Tailgating is fun, but it is important to be prepared for the long day ahead by packing efficiently. The tailgate may be long depending on when you start, and you’re going to need a lot of items when getting ready for the big game. Here are 10 items to bring to make your tailgating experience the best it can be.


A cooler full of ice and cold refreshments is a must-have at a tailgate, especially if the sun is out and blazing. Don’t forget to fill it with an assortment of drinks and lots of ice because you want your beverages to stay cool throughout the day.


Bring comfortable camping chairs to kick back and relax. Standing around can get tiring if you’re tailgating for the whole day, so bring a chair and plush throw blanket to snuggle up in while chatting with your friends.

Trash bags

You may need a lot of trash bags for the cans, plastic eating utensils and wrappers you use because you want to leave the site clean before heading into the stadium. There may be trash cans around the area, but you may be surprised at how much trash accumulates during the tailgate, and it may be better to bring bags of your own.


Eating tailgate food with friends and family is one of the best parts of the day. Good foods to eat at a tailgate include hot dogs, burgers, ribs, side dishes and condiments. Don’t forget to bring big bags of chips to snack on. Also, throw in packs of disposable silverware so you can easily get rid of them after the tailgate is over.

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Although there are plenty of tailgating recipes that don’t require a grill and are just as good, it will feel more like tailgating season with the sounds of sizzling meat and the smell of charcoal burning in the air. Bring some vegetables and potatoes to grill for extra sides.

Paper towels, wet wipes, napkins

The food and games can get messy, so pack bulks of paper towels, wet wipes and napkins to keep you clean throughout the day. There most likely won’t be a sink nearby, so wet wipes and napkins are good alternatives for when you get food on your hands. 


Because tailgating happens outside and throughout the hottest times of the day, sunscreen is essential to keep your skin from burning. It may be perfect to tan, but do it safely by applying sunscreen every few hours, even if the weather isn’t super hot.

Illini gear

Show support for the Illini by wearing Illini apparel — shirts, sweaters, jerseys, hats — and decorate your area with things like an Illini flag, table and bag toss game. Also ornament your car by adding an Illini license plate and car stickers to truly represent your school.


Although it sounds obvious, it can be easy to forget to stay hydrated. It’s even more important if temperatures are high that day. According to Contra Costa Health, when in a hot environment you should drink 16-32 ounces of water each hour to stay hydrated.


A tailgate isn’t complete without speakers. The right music can turn a typical barbecue into a party. Create a Spotify playlist or play exciting throwback songs to liven up the mood, and don’t be afraid to pull out some dance moves.

Julie is a freshman in Media.

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