Tailgating with family is a truly special experience. Seeing your little ones dressed in adorable football jerseys and cheerleader outfits, supporting your alma mater and hanging with old friends. Could you ask for a better way to spend a Saturday?
Of course, tailgating with family isn’t without its challenges. Most youngsters aren’t content to sit around listening to the adults gab on and on about player stats or which SEC team has the most obnoxious fans. To keep the kids entertained and pumped for the big game, why not start a few tailgate traditions the entire family can enjoy?
Whether you’re making game day treats or holding an annual Cornhole competition, there are plenty of family-friendly ways to celebrate America’s favorite sport. To give you some fresh ideas, here are seven tailgate traditions you can start that the entire family will look forward to each year.
#1. Outfit the little ones in game day gear :
First things first: Everyone needs to be dressed for the big game and repping your alma mater. Outfitting them in adorable jerseys and t-shirts can help them feel like part of the team and will make for ridiculously cute photo opportunities throughout the day.
Consider dressing the boys in football jerseys and the girls in t-shirts or cheerleading outfits. You can also paint your little girl’s nails in team colors (pro tip: get the quick-dry nail polish). For a coordinated look, make sure that mom and dad are dressed in collegiate apparel as well!
#2. Choose a few special dishes to make each year :
If you want your kids to look back at game day events with nostalgia, get them in the kitchen. According to scientists, memories involving food are some of the most vivid and powerful types of memories a person can have.
Besides, prepping game day meals together is a great bonding activity for the family and is an easy way to make the kids feel more involved in the game day experience. Pick out a few game day recipes that are easy to whip up so that the kids can be hands-on in the kitchen. When you make the rounds and visit all the unique tailgate setups in the stadium parking lot, they’ll no doubt be bragging to random strangers about the insanely awesome game day brownies they made with mom and dad.
#3. Set up family-friendly tailgate games :
Tailgating events can stretch on for hours, which is an awfully long time when you’re a bored little kid. Setting up a few tailgate games is an effective way of keeping kids entertained. Not to mention, preventing them from constantly tugging at your shirt sleeve while you’re trying to hold a conversation.
Cornhole is arguably one of the best tailgate games you can play simply because everyone can do it. Plus, you can make a fun tournament out of it and attract all sorts of Cornhole fanatics to your game. Don’t forget the prizes!
#4. Teach them the fight song
Fight songs are a time-honored tradition in college football that every passionate alumnus knows by heart. Why not teach your kids the fight song so you can all sing along together?
If they’re too little to memorize the entire song, you can always just teach them a few lines. Or, you could encourage them to create their own adorable chants and songs to cheer on your alma mater. No matter what songs they sing, make sure that you get it on video!
#5. Watch the homecoming parade :
Who doesn’t love a good homecoming parade? This annual tradition invites the entire community to come together and celebrate college football as it’s meant to be. The kids will love watching the marching band, fancy floats and cheerleaders make their way through the town and get everyone pumped for the big game.
At most universities, there are usually other family-friendly events going on before or after the homecoming parade. You can kick off your afternoon with a parade and then take the little ones to the nearby petting zoo, carnival or other kid-centered activities.
#6. Toss the football around with the kids :
When making a list of what to bring to a tailgate, don’t forget to bring the football. For many of us college football fans, some of our best memories involved tossing the football around with dad before the big game.
Keep in mind that girls enjoy playing with the football, too, so don’t leave them out! Get the family in a circle and toss the ball around for a fun activity to do between eating and drinking.
#7. Do sports-themed crafts together
While some kids will be perfectly happy to be active and play football or Cornhole, others prefer a quiet place to do their own thing. If they’re not into traditional tailgate activities, give them the option to do game day crafts instead.
Quiet kids generally love doing solo activities such as coloring or making bracelets. Get them in the team spirit by doing these crafts in your alma mater colors. Print out collegiate coloring sheets and bring crayons to the tailgate for an easy, no-fuss craft that the kids (and let’s be honest, some adults) are sure to enjoy. With this tradition, you’ll be considered the MVP of parent tailgaters everywhere.
Making Game Day Memories to Last a Lifetime
If you grew up tailgating with your family, then you know exactly how special the game day experience can be for youngsters. Starting your own college football traditions is the perfect way to introduce them to your beloved alma mater and create fond memories they’ll cherish forever. Just don’t blink–otherwise, they’ll be attending university before you know it!