How much do you love your favorite team? For millions of American fans, going to their team’s home games wouldn’t be the same without a lively tailgate party. Whether you love racing, football or baseball (or even basketball or hockey), tailgating isn’t just a way of celebrating; it’s an expression of loyalty, and of excitement for the game to come.
When you’re throwing the tailgate party, of course you want to go all-out. But turning it up to eleven doesn’t mean emptying your wallet, either.
A Reserved Space Is Worth The Investment
If your team will let you reserve parking lot space in advance (and you can afford it), go ahead and grab that prime game day real estate. Find out in advance (the beginning of the season, at least) if there are parking spaces near what you want most: the shade of a tree, public restrooms, exit thoroughfares, whatever. On game day, you’ll save yourself a lot of walking around. If you’ve got a canopy or tent, figure out the best spot to set it up within your area: away from your vehicle works best, and out from under tree cover so leaves and branches don’t accumulate on its tarp.
Pack Early, Pack Extra
You know supplies are a crucial part of successful tailgating, but don’t forget that there’s more to packing than getting your food and drinks ready to go. Make a list of everything you want to bring. If you can, start it a few days beforehand, so you have time to remember the odds and ends that always seem to come to mind later.
When preparing the food, especially the side items (beans, potato chips, jambalaya, et cetera) do as much prep work as you can for the food and pack everything in seal-tight plastic containers. This will make your food easier to serve but also helps you clean-up after the game (no trash to throw away.)
Remember to pack plenty of bottled water! You’ll need it to put out your barbecue fire but also for drinking and helping clean up spills. Tailgating experts recommend bringing at least two gallons.
Pack more drinks than you need. A good rule of thumb is to imagine how many cans of soft drink, beer, or other beverages you expect to need and then pack 20% more than that. Better to take some home than run out!
Prepare for Accidents and Emergencies
Nobody likes to think about accidents or other calamities happening during a party, but it’s still best to stay prepared. Put together a tool kit to help you make basic repairs to tables, chairs, cushions and other tailgating furniture. The tool kit should include pliers, extra screws and screwdrivers, electrical or other heavy tape, spare batteries, and a first aid kit. Stay prepared for bad weather with an umbrella and plastic ponchos.
Keep your tickets safe by putting them in an unmarked envelope and locked in your car’s glove compartment.
Don’t forget cleaning supplies!. Bring a bottle of hand sanitizer, and two rolls of toilet paper just in case your tailgating area has less-than-comfortable restrooms or portable toilets. A couple of dry towels also have plenty of uses around the tailgate area, too. If there’s room in your vehicle, a broom and dustpan will help clean up spilled food and ice.
Get Seen By Your Guests and Everybody Else
Once you’ve set up your canopy or tent, make it show your team spirit with banners, flags, and any other decorations you want. This will make it easier for your guests to find you – and everybody else to see your devotion. Some canopies come pre-printed with your team’s name and logo printed along the sides and top.
Don’t forget to anchor your canopy with some weight bags to hold it firmly in place; once the party starts, you don’t want it getting bumped around and knocked out of place. If and when bad weather comes, pull everything under the shelter of the canopy or tent at once. Packing up is a lot less tedious if your supplies aren’t wet.