Partying in the parking lot before a game has become as much of an institution as the sport of football itself. Tailgating can be so much more than just a cooler of drinks and a portable grill. It is a movable feast of food and fun that can get complicated. Here are some tailgating tips to make sure you don’t miss anything and have plenty of time to enjoy yourself.
Food and Drink Plan your menu ahead of time to ensure you have everything you will need. Hot dogs, hamburgers, kabobs, barbecue chicken, and brats are tailgate classics. Pack the right charcoal or propane canister to cook them on your portable grill. Sides like chips, potato salad, deviled eggs, and dips are a must. If you or your guests are watching what you eat, try some lighter options. For dessert, try something sophisticated or go for home-baked favorites like cookies and cupcakes. Y ou can even whip up icing in your team’s colors. A wide variety of drinks chilled in a cooler of ice will tackle your thirst. If the forecast suggests a hot day, include plenty of water and sports drinks to keep everyone hydrated.
Base Camp Essentials The spot around your vehicle will be your headquarters during the party and the game, so make sure it is fully equipped and comfortable. Bring a portable canopy to keep the sun off your spot and help your party stand out in the parking lot. Camp chairs and a folding table to hold all the food are necessary. For safety, pack a fire extinguisher, first aid kit, and extra sunscreen. Stay on top of all the game action with a radio or portable television. Remember plenty of batteries or a generator and extension cords for all your electronics. Pack a box or bag with the plates, cups, utensils, and napkins, and throw in cleaning supplies like garbage bags, paper towels, and extra water to put out a charcoal grill.
Games and Fun Tailgaters begin the party hours before kickoff. Lawn games and other portable pursuits give the guests who are not cooking something to do. They also keep children out of the chef’s way! Many games like bean bag toss and ladder ball are delightful for all ages. Kids practice their aim with hoop toss and mini disc golf. Take along a football for a game of catch.
Designated Drivers Perhaps the most important things for any party are the designated drivers. This is especially true for tailgating parties. Because they are held often at crowded stadiums, it can be difficult to catch a cab after the game is over. If you are hosting the party, encourage your guests to plan ahead to carpool to and from the tailgate site. If you are a guest, make sure you know how you can get home if you enjoy a beer or are simply tired out by all the fun.
Fall and football go hand-in-hand — here’s to a great season!