Tailgaiting Goes Hi-Tech
Party Preparations that Score Big

Whether you're off to watch your favorite college team or a professional matchup on the field, tailgating now is more hi-tech than ever before and always sure to be part of the fun. When it's time to tailgate, keep the following checklist handy so your own party is well-equipped and entertaining for fans all around!

Hunting and Gathering the Essentials

  • Paper products: paper plates, forks, spoons, napkins, paper towels, trash bags, table cloths, (all in team colors when possible), toilet paper (for when the supplies in on-site bathrooms run out)
  • Wet wipes (particularly handy when eating barbeque)
  • Food storage bags for storing after-game leftovers
  • Plenty of ice
  • Serving utensils and bowls, including a sharp utility knife and bottle opener
  • Chairs (rookie tailgaters usually forget these)
  • Tent or tarp
  • Tables for food and/or eating
  • Stereo and TV
  • Satellite dish
  • Blender for adult beverages (other than beer)
  • Personal beverage glasses (having a distinguishable cup makes it easy to discern from your neighbor's)
  • Grill, charcoal, lighter fluid, matches (must-haves for a cookout)
  • Food that is packed well to travel (all perishables should be contained in ice); see below section for other handy food preparation tips
  • Gallon of water to extinguish hot charcoal when you finish cooking (it's easy to forget and leave embers burning when you're rushing in to see the kickoff)
  • Rain gear

Where's the Power?

  • The right generator is the real power behind the party. To keep from disturbing other tailgaters, particularly in tight parking situations, make sure your generator is a quiet one.
  • Having enough fuel to operate the generator is key. It's always a good idea to bring extra gas for the generator (stored in a safety-approved container) just in case the party runs longer than expected.
  • A power strip for plugging in multiple appliances into the generator is another important item to have at the ready.

A Spirited Vantage Point

  • Dress in team colors.
  • Find a parking spot within view of the stadium (close proximity helps the overall fun factor).
  • Plan to arrive at the game venue 3 to 4 hours early and stay 1 to 2 hours after the game ends (you may need this much time to get an ideal parking spot as well as enough time to set up, eat and enjoy the pre-game atmosphere; after the game, enjoy leftover food and beverages while waiting for the crowds and traffic to dissipate).

The Food and Drink Zone (after all, sustenance is the best part of tailgating)

  • Plan your menu carefully and adequately prepare before the game so you can enjoy the party (for instance, make hamburgers before the game and freeze each patty between sheets of wax paper.
  • Keep it simple and pack prepared food in disposable containers.
  • Make extra food to share with other tailgaters.
  • Freeze bottled water for use in coolers. This practice keeps food from getting wet; later, you can take out these bottles and melt the ice for extra cold water to drink.
  • Store paper goods and condiments in a multi-drawered clear plasic unit that will fit onto a portable serving table; this keeps paper goods clean, in good shape and easy to grab. This kind of organized storage also keeps products from blowing away on a windy day and makes for easy hauling to and from the venue.
  • Food should be ready and served 1 to 1 1/2 hours before the game to give everyone attending the game time to eat, clean up and pack for the trip home. Those not going to the game should bring out the generator and TV.

Welcome to the NFL (best practices of the most seasoned tailgaters)

  • Fly a team flag.
  • Inflate, tie and float distinctive shiny helium filled balloons at the tailgate so friends can find their way to your festivities in a crowded sea of cars.
  • Decorate the tailgate table with team themed items
  • Meet your tailgate neighbors, swap recipes and start a pick-up tag football game.
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