Tailgating has been a long standing tradition of Football, and having a successful tailgate takes experience and preparation. If you are about to embark on your first tailgate, you may think you have it all under control…but you’re wrong. Everybody has made a rookie mistake during their first tailgate! Here are a few basic tips from seasoned tailgaters to help you avoid some common first time mistakes on game day.
Pack what you can in your car the night before. Be as portable as possible; grills, generators, chairs, tables or tents–make sure all these things can be easily loaded and unloaded. You should also pack a bag/box of essentials you will need for that day. For example, pack plastic serving ware, napkins, toilet paper (don’t assume the porta potties will have this) and garbage bags. To make your life a little easier, designate people in your tailgate party to be responsible for bringing certain items.
Make A Food List
Making a list of food you want to bring to your tailgate prior to the event will help to ensure you don’t forget certain items when packing your cooler game day morning. Having two coolers works best, one cooler for your food and one for your beverages. Make sure to pack non-alcoholic beverages as well, you will need something for your designated driver to drink and something to keep your drinkers hydrated throughout the day. Drinking nothing but alcohol can cause people in your party to become dehydrated and ill.
Have A Plan
Know before you go! Check your stadium’s parking and tailgating guidelines prior to game day. If you are meeting friends, you may want to discuss a general area in the parking lot where you will meet and use a flag that will signal your exact location. Get to the parking grounds early (about 3-4 hours before game time) to secure your discussed location. Do not rely on your cell phone to contact your friends once you get there since many phones have trouble with reception in and around the stadium area. Make sure everyone in your party is aware of the plans before hand.
Get To Know Your Neighbors
Once you have completed set up, put your game face on and make friends. Don’t be shy! Everyone is there for the same reason so finding a common interest won’t be difficult. It’s important to get to know your community. Say you forgot to bring mustard for your hot dogs, I’m sure your nice neighbor wouldn’t mind sharing their mustard with you!
Break Out The Radio
A portable radio is perfect for playing music while you tailgate or listening to updates on other football games going on that day. Just remember to be respectful of your neighbors. Don’t play your radio too loudly or play music with vulgar lyrics that could offend the nice neighbor who just shared their mustard with you.
Not everyone in your party will be content just sitting around drinking and discussing their predictions of that days’ game, so have fun games available to play. Bring a football to toss around, a Frisbee or even a deck of cards for card game. Anything to keep your party busy will make them happy, and happy people are the key to a successful tailgate.
Check the weather beforehand and dress accordingly. It will be a long day outdoors and you don’t want to be caught over or under dressed. If you know it’s going to be chilly early in the day, bring a sweatshirt with you. If there is a chance of rain, bring a rain jacket. There is nothing worse than sitting through an entire game and then a ride home in wet clothes.
Have Spare Chargers
In the digital/social media world we live in, it’s going to be very hard to have a day without using technology. On a busy tailgating weekend, your phone and tablet hours may double. You will also find that your battery life drains quickly when your phone or tablet is constantly searching for service. Be sure you have your devices charged and get a spare charger for the car in case you run low.
You want to start breaking down and packing up at least 30 minutes before you plan to head into the stadium. Put all your garbage in a garbage bag and all bottles in a separate bag. The parking lot trash bins may be full, so it is important to bring hefty duty garbage bags that seal odors in case you have to travel home with your trash. Make sure all food you are traveling home with is sealed shut as well.
When it comes to charcoal, coals can stay hot for hours and they need to be disposed of properly. A good trick for this is using the aluminum pans that held your burgers, hot dogs and other food you came with. Discard the remaining coals into the aluminum pans then take the melted ice from your coolers to pour over the coals. After the coals have cooled you can throw them in a garbage bag as well.
Whatever you do, do not leave trash, food or bottles lying around the parking grounds. When it comes to tailgating the same rules apply as if you were camping… you should take out everything you bring in.
Don’t Forget Your Camera
Not only will you want pictures of yourself and your tailgate party, but you are going to see some interesting things while you are there. Tailgating is a huge event! You will most likely see people decked out in team spirit with their faces and bodies painted, decorated vehicles and crazy blow ups…well, who really knows what you will see, but trust me you will want to capture those memories!
These are all the tips we are willing to share, everything else you will have to learn on your own like the rest of us had to! Follow our advice, be safe, have fun, and nobody will realize you are a rookie on game day. Happy tailgating!
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