Did You Know There's Proper Tailgate Etiquette?

Following these rules should score you a touchdown with the gracious host.

Erika Preval
White Sheet Cake with Team Color Icing
Photo: Hector Sanchez

In the South, good manners are passed down like a treasured family recipe. But the guidelines for being considered a well-mannered guest are changing. When etiquette conundrums surface, we turn to Erika Preval of Charm Etiquette school in Atlanta to answer questions on proper social protocol.

Q: I’ve been invited to attend my first tailgate party. I'm excited and want to be prepared for anything that might be expected by my hosts. Please share any suggestions you might have.

A: As the humidity of summer fades, cooler temps prompt the excitement of a favorite time of year for many: football season. In the South, football and tailgating go together like collards and cornbread. Although this event takes place outdoors, a special kind of party etiquette should be considered. Here are a few game day fouls to avoid:

Personal (Party) Foul – Don’t show up empty-handed! Bring an item to share or offer money to offset the costs for your hosts. Also, be sure to bring along food that will sustain you throughout the activities of the day should you have allergies or a restricted diet. Arriving late? Ask the hosts if their supply of ice could use refreshing; it’s always most appreciated.

Equipment Violation – There are things that you should not assume the host will provide, such as chairs and blankets. Dress in layers because the weather tends to shift throughout the day. Dress for comfort so that you’re able to walk for long distances. Be prepared with items like tissues and hand sanitizer, as well.

Unsportsmanlike Conduct – Wear your team colors. And if you're cheering for the opposing team, try and keep things lighthearted. Your occasional “Roll Tide” in the middle of a crowd of Auburn fans is likely expected, but will be considered rude to your hosts if it persists throughout the event.

Enjoy yourself and celebrate the season!