Tailgating season is the best time of year for sports lovers. If you are like many people, you immediately begin thinking about tailgating parties when football season arrives; it’s one of the best ways to enjoy a game with friends and family. However, improper planning can ruin the party, even if your team wins. Follow these tips to ensure your party doesn’t go foul.
Tailgating Policies & Parking Lot Guidelines
Before you start planning menus and buying beverages, find out the tailgating policies and all the pertinent facts. If you are planning to grill, see if open flames are permissible. Inquire about bathroom facilities; are there public restrooms that you can use or do have to use porta potties? Find out if there is a fee to park, what time you can arrive and how late you are allowed to stay. It is also important to know the alcohol policy before you start stocking up the cooler.
Check the Weather
Check the weather, if forecasters say it will be rainy or hot, you may consider taking along a tent and poncho.
Pick a Time
Leave enough time to arrive and set up so you are not stuck completing last minute tasks and missing out on all the fun. You also might want to arrive early to get a prime spot in the parking for your tailgate.
Plan on at least two coolers; most people need one for food and one for drinks. However, it is also wise to bring a third cooler for raw foods that require cooking. Always wrap food tightly or package it in containers to avoid cross contamination and leaking.
Tie bottle openers around the handles of coolers, so these items don’t get misplaced or lost.
Tables & Chairs
Portable chairs and tables, such as lawn chairs and card tables are essential.
Gear for the Grill
Always bring extra fuel in case you end up grilling more than you planned. It is a good idea to take along a portable fire extinguisher as well, even if you are careful, there is always the possibility of an accident.
Prep to be Prepared
Choose ready-to-go snacks and finger foods that you can put out immediately to keep everyone happy as you fire up the grill. Do prep work at home, such as cutting up vegetables, making burger patties, threading items onto skewers and marinating chicken or meat. You can also mix up large batches of cocktails or soft drinks in advance, which can then be poured from a cooler immediately after you arrive.
Never go to an outdoor party without plenty of water. It is important your guests drink water to stay hydrated while drinking alcoholic beverages especially if the weather is warm out. Freezing water bottles is a great way to keep the coolers cold and ensure that cold water is still available hours after your arrival.
Set up Your Tailgating Spot
When you arrive at the tailgating location, define your space as soon as possible. Park your vehicle so that the trunk end is where you plan to tailgate and pull up as far as possible to mark your space. You should immediately unpack after your vehicle is parked and set up your coolers, chairs and tables to define your area. This will keep neighbors from crowding in and wandering through your party.
If you decide to bring two tables, which is a good strategy, set one near the grill and the other in a different area, where it can be used as the serving or buffet table. The cooler that contains raw food should be placed next to the grill and the others under or near the buffet table. This will keep people away from the person doing the grilling when they are searching for drinks. Place wet wipes or sanitizer near the serving table so that the members of your party can avoid sharing germs or bacteria.
Flag Your Area
Attach a balloon or a flag to your vehicle to make it easy for friends and relatives to find you.
Even if the people around you are rooting for a rival team, treat them with respect. Offer to share food, trade stories or swap recipes and take time to be social. Remember, just because you are cheering for opposite teams does not mean you are enemies in real life.
Bring heavy-duty garbage bags for trash and bottles. Decide how you are going to handle and store leftover food and beverages. Dispose of garbage and any perishable foods that have been out for two hours or more. Reusable containers should be collected and placed in a tub with a lid so they can be washed properly with hot water when you return home.
Tailgating parties are something that many people look forward to year-round. Use the tips outlined above for a tailgating touchdown.