Tailgating Tips For Rookies
Tailgating has been a long-standing football tradition, and having a successful tailgate takes experience and preparation. If you're about to embark on your first tailgate, you may think you have it all under control… but everyone's made a rookie mistake their first time! Here are a few basic tips from seasoned tailgaters to help you avoid some common 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 or box of essentials you'll need for that day: 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 & Drink List
Making a list of food 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 for food and one for beverages. Be sure to pack non-alcoholic beverages, as you'll need something for your designated driver to drink and something to keep others 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're meeting friends, you may want to discuss a general area in the parking lot where you'll meet and use a flag to signal your exact location. Get to the parking grounds early (about 3-4 hours before game time) to secure your discussed location. Don't rely on cell service to contact friends once you arrive; many phones have trouble with reception in and around stadium areas. Make sure everyone in your party is aware of the plan beforehand.
Get To Know Your Neighbors
Once you've set up, put your game face on and make friends. Don’t be shy! Everyone's 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; your nice neighbor wouldn’t mind sharing theirs with you!
Break Out The Radio
A portable radio is perfect for playing music while you tailgate or listening to updates on other 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 your neighbors.
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, frisbee, or even a deck of cards. 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'll 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's a chance of rain, bring a rain jacket. There's nothing worse than sitting through an entire game and 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'll also find that your battery life drains quickly when your devices are constantly searching for service. Be sure you have your devices charged and get a spare 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's important to bring heavy-duty garbage bags that seal odors in case you have to travel home with your trash. Make sure all food you're 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 and 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.
Capture the Memories
Not only will you want pictures of yourself and your tailgate party, but you're going to see some interesting things while you're 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 more. You'll want to capture those memories! Be sure to bring a camera to alleviate the strain on your phone battery and have something dedicated to capturing the fun.
These are tips to get you started. Everything else you'll 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're a rookie on game day. Happy tailgating!