Tailgating can be a great experience on any game day. Grilling out before the game and spending time with friends and family can make your football afternoon even more memorable. But, in order to get the most of your tailgating experience, you need to be prepared for the big day and know exactly what to expect.
If you're in charge of the tailgate party, then you just might have taken on a bigger responsibility than you know. Seasoned tailgaters always come prepared (and so should you), so we've compiled a quick list of tips to make sure your tailgating party starts and finishes just right.
Keep reading to find out the best way to start your tailgate party.
Show Up Early
In order to get the full enjoyment out of tailgating, you need to make sure you leave yourself enough time before the game. You'll probably need to show up about 3 to 4 hours before the game to set up. That should give you plenty of time to cook the food, play some games and just hang out with your group. Don't forget to factor in some time to break everything down once you're done.
For those die-hard tailgaters, there's always the option of coming back to the parking lot once the game is over to do some additional tailgating. This might save you some frustrating time in post-game traffic and give you the chance to celebrate a great victory -- or forget a horrible defeat.
Up next, learn the importance of picking the right tailgating spot.
Find a Good Parking Spot
Finding the ideal spot for your tailgate party might not be the first thing that everyone thinks about, but it can make your party a little more fun if you can pick a prime location. If you can, look for a parking space right next to a grassy area so you'll have more space to spread out. This way you'll have one less car next to you and you might even score a tree to chill out under if it's a hot day. If you can't find a shady spot, bring along an extra tent or canopy to block out the mid-afternoon sun on those really hot days.
Some areas may charge for prime parking locations -- and in some cases, that charge may be a little too much for your party budget. So if you have to make do with whatever spot you can find, be sure to make friends with the other football fans parked around you. Who knows? You might even decide to plan your next tailgate party with them.
On the next page, find out how knowing the rules of your tailgate location can actually help you have a good time.
Know the Rules
The rule book makes football a lot more fun because everyone has to play hard within the confines of the agreed-upon terms. When you're tailgating, remember that the parking lot or facility where you're partying probably has rules, too. This could be simple things like making sure to clean up after you're done, no unattended grills or as on some college campus parking lots, the rules could entail no alcoholic beverages.
Do a quick search online before you go tailgating or ask some friends if they know of any important rules to follow. Once you understand what you'll be working with, you'll know how to plan for your tailgating party and what you do or don't need to worry about. Finding out ahead of time may keep you from getting asked to leave because you unintentionally broke the rules.
Keep reading to learn how planning ahead could make all the difference when tailgating.
This is an obvious one, so let's take a look at what planning ahead for a tailgating party really entails. Of course, if you're in charge of cooking you'll need to bring the food and the grill and maybe even the drinks. But what about the utensils, plates, cups, garbage bags and so on? Try to think of everything you'll be doing when you're tailgating and make a list of everything you'll need. Once you've parked and started your tailgate party, you most likely won't be able to leave the lot to pick up anything you might have forgotten.
Try to think of things that you'd need at home, and then bring them along. For some locations, this may mean planning ahead for extreme weather situations, like thunderstorms or even typical issues like using the bathroom. In fact, if there are no bathrooms available, it may even be necessary to rent a port-o-potty to make the afternoon a little more comfortable for everyone.
Next, find out how cleaning up after a tailgating party ensures that you and everyone around you will have a good time.
Pack It Up
When it comes to tearing down your tailgating site, apply the camping rule that says you should take out everything you bring in. You might be able to find some trash cans nearby, but then again, you might not. It's important to make sure you have everything with you to properly dispose of, or carry away, all of your trash.
If you grill out using a charcoal grill, keep in mind the policies and rules for your tailgating area. Charcoal coals can stay hot for hours and they need to be disposed of properly. Using aluminum pans that you had the food in is a good way to discard the remaining charcoal. You can then use the melted ice in the cooler to pour over the coals if they're still hot.
Whatever you do, don't leave trash, food or bottles laying around when you're done. It's in everyone's best interest to keep the place nice and neat so you'll have a premium spot to tailgate throughout the rest of the season.
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- Big Blue Tailgate. "Tailgating Tips." (Sept. 22, 2010) http://www.bigbluetailgate.com/tailgating_tips.html
- Hurst, Shannon. "Best Tailgating Tips for #SEC Football with Giveaway." Traveling Mamas. (Sept. 22, 2010) http://travelingmamas.com/best-tailgating-tips-for-sec-football-with-giveaway/
- Tailgating.com. "Tailgating 101: The Basics." (Sept. 22, 2010) http://www.tailgating.com/index.php/tailgating-institute/tailgating-101
- Tailgating.com. "Tailgating Tips." (Sept 23, 2010) http://www.tailgating.com/index.php/tailgating-institute/expert-tips