Every football fan knows that tailgating is half the fun of the season. Come September, we look forward to donning all our team apparel, painting our faces, packing up the grill, and gathering in the parking lot with family and friends for beer and burgers before the game. Before you start planning, check out these tips on how to throw the perfect tailgate.
1. Give out prizes for the best food
Split the cooking amongst your friends and give out awards for the best homemade appetizers, mains, and dessert. Not sure what to buy for prizes? Check out your team’s official store so winners can show off their new hats or tumblers during the game.
2. Go crazy on the dip frontier
It wouldn’t be a tailgate without delicious dip for those chicken wings and chips, so why not bring them into the spotlight this year by creating a mouthwatering dipping station (we recommend at least five options). You’ll want to go beyond the same old bleu cheese and ranch: think chipotle mayo or garlic parmesan.
3. Serve an interactive cocktail
Before a day of football, you can step up your drinking game. Try serving a gin bucket the traditional (and fun) way- with turkey basters! It makes drinking much more interactive and even somewhat athletic.
4. Wow everyone with your decorations
Just because you’re in a parking lot, doesn’t mean you can’t decorate! Hang a game day banner from the top of your open trunk. Bring balloons in your team’s colors (this also makes it really easy for your friends to find you). Opt for bold and festive plates, cups, and napkins.
5. A speaker is a must-have
Every tailgater needs to have a reliable bluetooth speaker that’s loud enough for everyone to hear that perfectly-curated playlist.
6. Set up a photo booth
All you need to do is hang a white sheet from the top of an open trunk. If you want your photos to be really high quality, use a camera other than your phone and set up a tripod. Don’t forget to bring fun sports-related props like foam fingers, footballs, and a football or two.
7. Mark your territory
Tailgates are so often dead zones for cell phone service. Make it easy for your friends to find you by flying a unique balloon or flag above your car so you’re easy to spot. Text your friends ahead of time and say, “Find us under the giant unicorn balloon!”
8. Prepare for rain or shine
Is there a chance of rain? Tailgates can still be a blast while it pours as long as you’re prepared. Bring a bunch of ponchos for your friends and give them out to strangers who will become your new buds. It’s a cheap addition and everyone will thank you!
9. Don’t skimp on the cleaning supplies (you’ll thank yourself later)
After the party ends, the dreaded clean up begins. Make it easier on yourself by planning ahead. Pack lots of trash bags. Wet wipes and hand sanitizer are a must for cleaning the barbecue sauce off your hands. And don’t forget to bring plastic food containers so you can take the leftovers home.
10. Safety first
Accidents can happen when grilling is involved, so invest in a first aid kit to keep in your car. Better safe than sorry! It’s also important to bring lots of water to be sure you don’t run out. The players have to stay hydrated for the game, and so should you!