Football is upon us! Doing some tailgating is all well and good, but if you really want to have a good time this year, start planning ahead to make your tailgating event something extra special. Here are a few ideas to make sure your tailgating party this year really impresses your friends and keeps them excited for the next one.
- Pick some dishes to serve that will really stand out from the normal tailgate menu. Hotdogs and hamburgers are always good, but make it special with some interesting hamburger blends including cheese and spinach in the patty. Or do something totally unique like an omelet bar for those earlier games. And don’t forget the snacks, of course.
- Whatever dishes you decide to serve, do as much preparation as possible the night before. Chop vegetables, shape hamburger patties, section out toppings in portable containers, etc. Make sure you are packing and storing them in a smart way that takes advantage of as much space as possible. Layer your cooler with heavy things on bottom and soft things on top to take advantage of the space. Repurpose items like a trashcan as a cooler so that it can be double-purpose on the day of the event.
- Make your drinks part of the special occasion. Set up a Bloody Mary bar with all the fixin’s for your friends in the bed of your truck. Or set up a whole mini bar with all kinds of selections. You can get some mini cans and airport bottles of liquor to make this easy to accommodate for lots of people with different tastes. Or make some festive drinks in advance to pack in the cooler, like sangria or margarita mixes. Try to be adventurous with some drink mixes that are a little unusual. And for the end of the game, after your team has won, bust out the champagne minis for a tailgate celebration.
- Find creative ways to make the best use of your space. Use cables and ties to hang things like your paper towel roll or your spatulas from the roof of your tent, the side of your fold out table, or the back of your truck. As people start to finish their drinks, put a plastic trash can into one side of the cooler so they can put the empty cans and bottles back in nearly the same place.
- Always bring fun extras for your friends and relatives. Extra decorations, extra chains of beads, extra temporary tattoos, etc. Consider printing up some “team” jerseys custom to your tailgating crew with their nicknames included.
- Set up your space in a way that makes the most sense. Make sure your grill is downwind from everyone else. Organize your tables with toppings in an area near the grill but not right next to the sitting area. Make sure to get lots of nice compact chairs and blankets for people to spread out. If you aren’t using the truck bed or back of the van for food, spread out some blankets and pillows for people to rest and sit, especially if it might get rainy.
- Always bring extra tools. If you tailgate regularly, you might want to pack up an emergency kit of items you’ll want to have on hand like tongs, spatulas, plastic utensils, hand wipes, paper towels, lighters, etc. You can pack up a duffle bag, tool box, or tackle box with some of these items to keep in your car or truck all year round in case you ever forget some.
- Provide a handwashing station, especially if you’ll be serving messy food. Use an old water dispenser, the kind you might put on the shelf in the fridge, for easy pouring. Bring along some bottled soap or mix the soap right into the water in the dispenser.
- Bring along some games or other activities. Classic tailgating games include corn hole and ladder golf, which are fun for all ages.
Planning a truly fun and memorable tailgate just takes some creativity and attention to detail. Start planning now for a notable event and you’ll have your friends talking for months about your good ideas and attention to detail. Bleak