Football season is here, and that means one thing: tailgate parties. Yes, it’s time to get your finest football friends together and prep for the big game in style. What could be better than grilling and chilling outside on a weekend, getting psyched to watch the big dogs rumble? Just remember to plan ahead. There’s a little prep work you’ll need to do in order to keep things fun and safe, but it’s nothing too tricky.
Feasting before the day’s events is absolutely essential. Who wants to eat a $7 hotdog inside the stadium? Tailgating is the best way to get your football food fix—grilling your own grub is cheap and delicious.
Brats, burgers, chips, salsa, and other heavy-hitters should be the centerpiece of the tailgate meal. They’ll keep you full and provide the powerful energy you’ll need to keep up with the thousands of amped up fans going wild in the stadium.
Be careful here. While beers are often a key element of the tailgate party, alcohol also ruins more parties than anything else does. Think about who’s coming to your party. Anyone who drinks too much or might decide to drive after they’ve had an unsafe amount? Then leave the alcohol home. You can still have a great time without drinking.
Remember also to check labels when shopping for beer. The craft beers people drink nowadays are often much stronger than the Buds and Millers many of us grew up on. Just one or two imperial stouts or IPAs could make you unfit for the road. And it should go without saying that you need to leave hard liquor at home.
If your friends are into games, bring some! If not, no big deal. Most tailgate games are pretty simple: you throw something at something else and hope the two somethings make contact. Fun but non-essential.
Things to Avoid
Plenty of things can make a tailgate party lame. Heavy drinking is one, obviously, but there are others, like:
- Flashy, attention-grabbing gadgets. Parties are about having fun, not showing off the size of your paycheck or spending 45 minutes assembling some weird cooler/computer hybrid. Keep things simple.
- Wrong music. Sadsack indie folk has no place in a football parking lot. If you’re cranking tunes, crank tunes made for the occasion. Music should be festive and enthusiastic.
- Wrong food. Tubs of ice cream might sound delicious when you’re sitting at home, but they’ll melt eventually, no matter how cool the cooler. You don’t want to walk around the game with sticky hands and stained clothes.
- Wrong friends. Some people can’t have fun unless they’re ruining someone else’s. Choosing tailgate friends is an art. They’ve got to have the right balance of fun and relaxedness.
Tailgating isn’t rocket science, but it does take some planning. You’ve got to find the perfect balance of letting loose and keeping under control. Too loose, and you end up in jail or the hospital. Too much control, and you’re bored. Lots of people get it wrong. So don’t just wing it. Keep all of the above guidelines in mind when putting together your tailgate party. Now let’s have some fun!