What To Bring To A Tailgate Party: 10 Tips To Become A Tailgating Legend
Ah, the tailgate party! Be it for a football or baseball game, this American pastime has evolved from five guys sitting in the back of a pickup truck, chugging beers and belching the National Anthem, to a gourmet affair with all the trimmings of a royal wedding.
Now, tailgating has emerged as a way for even non sports fans to really enjoy the game. Plus, you won’t find yourself paying $10 for a shriveled up hot dog or $8 for a flat beer.
If you’re new to tailgating, but are ready to jump in and get your feet wet, I’ve got 10 easy tips of what to bring to a tailgate party to get you started and maybe even make you a legend in the process.
You can also use some or most of these tips if you’re co-hosting or just pitching in. But wouldn’t you rather be a legend?
1. Over prepare EVERY time! You may not expect 20 people to join you, but be prepared for 20 people. Maybe even 50! If your tailgate party is so inviting that people bring their drinks and positive attitude over to YOUR car, then encourage it by being ready for more guests.
2. Prepare your food list. Make sure you have some options for vegetarians and those who just want a healthy snack. When you’ve got your list of what to bring to a tailgate party, you’ll be ready to shop. Go to the grocery store at least 4 days in advance.
Chili, hot dogs, pre-cooked fried chicken, and pre-made hamburger patties are a good start. Be sure to have all the fixings anyone could ever want for these items, along with all sauces and dips.
Prepare all salads in advance. Cook what you can a day or two ahead of time — chicken, chili, cakes, etc. Cut veggies and burger toppings and marinate kebabs and skewers the night before. Pack everything in resealable plastic containers, if space in the coolers permit.
3. Alcohol. Is it allowed? If so, be sure to bring plastic cups and encourage everyone to use them. Have a recycling bag for cans and bottles and don’t leave a single piece of trash behind.
4. Dessert is a MUST. The best idea EVER is cupcakes iced with the colors and logos of both teams playing.
5. If it’s a night game, get some lamps and a generator. Maybe even get your hands on some movie lights and stands if you can.
6. Pack your coolers well. Put in the drinks, then add ice, then add other food items, then more ice. Bring a couple of deep trays to make an ice bath for the toppings and veggies on hot days. Freeze bottled water so you have another source of ice and super-chilled water later.
…The most important thing on your list of what to bring to a tailgate party is a good attitude. Even if your team is expected to lose by 20 points, don’t let it bring down the mood.
7. Fire up the grill at least two hours before the game. Arrive as early as possible to get things set up. Eat before anyone else arrives so you can spend your time being the perfect host.
8. Music. Does your car/truck have a good sound system? If not, bring some good speakers and your iPhone/iPod/iPad, etc. Assign someone with good taste in music to be DJ and get this party started.
9. Chairs, inflatable swimming pool, benches, etc. Make it as comfortable as possible. If you have a big vehicle, pack enough folding chairs and picnic benches for at least 10 people. As for the swimming pool, you can use this as your drink cooler or you can make a swimming pool out of it. (You can also assign a friend to make a swimming pool in the back of a pickup truck using tarps and tons of duct tape.)
10. Clean as you go. Give any kids there the job of picking up trash and recycling. Make a game out of it and offer rewards. You’ll find the area spotless come game time.
*Bonus: If you have enough food left over, invite everyone back to your care for a bite after the game to avoid sitting in frustrating traffic. Keep alcohol to a minimum — only for non-drivers.
Follow these simple steps and you will emerge victorious. Legendary status is at your fingertips. And remember, the most important thing on your list of what to bring to a tailgate party is a good attitude. Even if your team is expected to lose by 20 points, don’t let it bring down the mood.
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