When it comes to autumn weekends, tailgating is one of America’s most robust social traditions. It’s a chance to participate in civic pride, camaraderie, pageantry and competition. And while it's a fun way for fans to gear up for the big game, a proper tailgate also requires a lot of work. It’s a day-long endurance test that can leave novices burnt out even before kickoff. So, whether you’re looking to break into the tailgating realm, or if you’re trying to iron out some kinks in your current strategy, consider these general guidelines.
Make a Playbook
Your tailgating experience will be unfulfilling (or perhaps even downright unpleasant) if you don’t do the necessary legwork. Seasoned tailgaters have their rituals down to a science so they can spend the majority of Game Day eating, relaxing, corn-holing, etc. Do as much as you can as soon as you can. This means cooking, packing, monitoring the weather forecast and scouting a location for your tent. There’s a lot to account for and HuffPo has some thrifty tips to help you stay on top of things. Keep organized by making a list of to-dos and to-brings, laminate it, sew it to the inside of your jersey — whatever’s necessary, because you’ll have nowhere to go once you’ve set everything up.
“Are You Not Entertained?”
As a tailgate host, you’ll want to ensure your guests don’t grow restless or disappointed. Tailgates are like carnivals or State Fairs; there are so many eye-catching happenings that can tempt your companions into wandering off toward greener pastures. Anchor them to your venue by keeping them entertained. TVs, of course, are vital instruments for sports viewing and should be included on your list of supplies. For those who require a bit more physical activity, games involving only one hand are popular as they keep the other hand free for food or drinks. Fan favorites at tailgates are Kan Jam, cornhole, flip cup or simply tossing a football around.
Fall is officially underway, which means cooler weather is coming. What better way to keep yourself warm than to huddle around the grill? If you’re looking for inspiration, check out this list of recipe ideas from BarbecueBible. But don’t bite off more than you can ‘que. Free yourself up for hosting responsibilities by outsourcing some of the culinary work to your guests. Or even make it a potluck-style tailgate. Just remember that this isn’t a fuddy-duddy banquet, so keep your guests mobile by serving manageable handheld foods that won’t overburden them.
Everybody Do Your Share
You may be a little put-out after all this excitement and no one looks forward to dismantling the tailgate spread after going to such lengths arranging it. So make sure you minimize the amount of time spent cleaning up and try not to leave too much litter in your wake. Cut down on waste by bringing reusable cups, dishes and utensils. You can use a large plastic tub to store all those dirty dishes. You may not be in your savviest state of mind at this point in the day, but try to look for any opportunities to recycle bottles, cans, plastic, etc. Think of it as good karma for next week’s game.