8 At-Home Tailgate Ideas to Kick Off Football Season

Yes, a socially-distanced tailgate is possible! These at-home ideas will make your next gameday one worth cheering for.

Football season starts up again today (hallelujah!) and it feels good to have something normal to look forward to after months of quarantine. Of course, this season still looks different than in years past: Fans are limited in the stadiums, and in-person tailgating is strongly discouraged. Luckily, it's easy (and fun!) to host your own tailgate at home. It's still not a good idea to have a big party (10 people or fewer is ideal), so don't go wild with the guest list. Invite a few close friends to gather in the garage or on the driveway, or deck out the living room for the members of your household.

Ethnic family watching football on tv and eating pizza at home
skynesher/Getty Images

Throw on your jersey, whip up a batch of buffalo dip, and queue up the pre-game show, because these at-home tailgate ideas are the next best thing to actually being at the stadium.

01 of 08

Game Day Decor

tailgate decorations
Courtesy of Amazon

If you're bummed about missing the in-person festivities this year, hype your crew up for the game with festive football-theme decor. Typically I reserve decorations like this for Super Bowl Sunday, but after six months of living through the pandemic, I say anything goes!

02 of 08

Score the Winning Goal

how to make cornhole bags boards
Matt Clark

Whether you call it cornhole or bags, this game day tradition is a tailgating must. Set up the boards in the backyard so people can compete while staying socially distant. Plus, if you don't already have a set of boards, they're super easy to make yourself and you can customize them with your school or team colors.

03 of 08

Serve Football-Themed Foods

Snack spread on football field
Carson Downing

This is another tradition I normally save for Super Bowl Sunday, but since we won't be transporting our snacks to a parking lot (and storing the leftovers in the back of the car), why not go all out with football-themed foods? Our Spicy Cheese Football is always a hit (and it's easy to prep the day before), and our Football Cookie Dough Pops are a delicious halftime treat.

04 of 08

Keep it Cool

red cooler
Courtesy of Target

An ice-cold cooler is a must-have at any outdoor tailgate, so setting one up at home will make you feel like you're at the real deal, even when you're within 10 feet of the fridge. Set it up in the garage (or even the middle of the living room!) for your at-home celebration and reuse it for in-person tailgating in the future.

05 of 08

Fire Up the (Smokeless) Grill

food on a grill
Courtesy of Amazon

It's not a tailgate without burgers and brats! If you're tailgating in the backyard, fire up the grill; or bring the party indoors with a portable smokeless grill you can use on the countertop. The perks of an indoor grill? You can watch the game while grilling your hotdogs to perfection.

Buy It: George Foreman Smokeless Grill ($56, Amazon)

06 of 08

Show Your Spirit

NFL face masks
Courtesy of NFL Shop

You've probably got a shirt or a jersey of your favorite team, but now there's an even easier way to show your team some support: Team face masks. Since masks are definitely still necessary in public places, we'll be wearing face coverings decorated with our team logos when we run to the grocery store on game day. You can find masks from local retailers or order them directly from the NFL site.

07 of 08

Score with the Slow Cooker

instant pot and sandwiches
Courtesy of Target

Game day food is the best food: Nothing beats a warm dip recipe on a cool fall day. Make a batch of our tasty Buffalo Chicken Dip in the slow cooker, or whip up our Spinach-Parmesan Dip in the Instant Pot and get it on the table in under 20 minutes.

08 of 08

Technology Touchdown

amazon alexa
Courtesy of Amazon

Hey Alexa, what's the score? One major perk of tailgating at home is that you have access to all the tech tools that'll help you enjoy the game. Your Amazon Alexa can broadcast the pregame radio show and set an alarm to let you know when the buffalo dip is done cooking. You can also ask Alexa how many minutes until kick-off or ask her questions about player stats while you watch the game. That's something you can't do at a parking lot tailgate!

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