Tips for Tailgating with Kids

Bring kids along for the football season fun! Here is some advice for tailgating with kids.

Fall comes with changing leaves, pumpkin spice everything and tailgating. These pre-game parking lot parties aren’t just for adults, they can be family-friendly activities that are fun for everyone. That’s right: you can go tailgating with kids – with a little planning!

For sports-loving parents ready to carry on the tradition of cheering on their favorite team with their children during football season, here are some tips for making it an event everyone loves.

Arrive early

Half of all tailgaters set up three to four hours before game time. Arriving early, says, allows parents to snag prime locations.

“The ideal location for me is either the far left or right hand corner of the lot. I arrange the trucks and tables in a way that our party is completely blocked in from through traffic and this allows space for the kids to play freely without worrying (about) passing cars,” Tailgating Ideas’ author writes.

Allow plenty of time for cooking, eating, games and walking to the game, as well as taking in any activities around the stadium. Check ahead of time to find out if any special activities are planned for game day.

Plan for the weather

Fall in Michigan can bring unpredictable weather. One Saturday might be sunny and hot, while the next is cool and rainy. Dressing in layers can help prepare for just about any weather condition. suggests making it fun by wearing team gear and buying those team tees in advance.

“Get them a special ‘good luck’ T-shirt to wear on all of your team’s game days, and pick up some fun temporary tattoos with the team logo for their faces or arms. Team T-shirts also usually cost less at the mall or Walmart than they do from vendors at the game, so if you can buy them their shakers, shirts, and other fun stuff before Game Day.” suggests a tent to help protect against the elements.

“Tailgating can get long. And hot. And tiring. And if you have kids, you know that those three things together can cause the perfect storm of meltdowns. So if you’re not in the shade, throw up a tailgating tent. And whatever you do, don’t forget the sunscreen,” the author writes.

Tents can also help protect against wind and even drizzle that might interrupt a tailgating event.

Take plenty of activities

Some kids enjoy cornhole and washer-toss games, while others are not interested in participating. As Jenn from writes, “Bored kids become whiny kids,” and that’s enough to ruin everyone’s fun.

She suggests taking balls, books, crayons and coloring books, but avoid toys with lots of little pieces like puzzles and Lego toys.

And remember: the fun doesn’t have the be restricted to the parking lot.

“Be sure to look up the event schedule ahead of time so that you can plan out the day, hit a few fun events the kids would like, and add in time for walking to and from the tailgate site to the stadium so that you can be there to see pre-game festivities. Take them to see the team mascot and get their picture taken with him to create a tangible, awesome memory,” adds.

Consider food choices

Some tailgaters nosh on hot dogs and brats while others spice up the event with chili, whatever the choice, consider the tastes of kids.

Hot dogs, sausages, hamburgers, sandwiches, chicken tenders, quesadillas and pizza are some of the favorite choices of the gal from She also suggest easy-to-eat foods like fruit, chips, crackers and keeping drinks like bottles of water and juice boxes on hand to make sure everyone stays hydrated.

Be flexible

Attending a game with children isn’t the same as a child-free outing with friends. Ill-timed tantrums and bathroom breaks can cause frustration. suggests remembering the reason for the outing in the first place.

“If you end up needing to leave the game earlier than planned or have to miss a big play for a potty trip, just remember you’re sharing an exciting, memorable experience with them and that it will be easier to take them to games when they are older.”


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