Quick tips to tailgating like a champ

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It’s like a block party … only better. Whether you’re a rookie or a seasoned vet of the tailgating variety, these simple tips will help you create a fun tailgating experience for your friends and family.

Preparation goes a long way

  • Make a list of supplies you’ll need to take with you; this will make everything much easier in the end.
  • Start gathering a few coolers the week before the game and designate their uses: raw meat, beverages, side dishes and extra ice. You can never have too much ice. Pack well; it’s better to have too much than to run out. Do not re-use the ice from the raw-meat cooler.
  • A few days before the game, take a ride over to the stadium and scout out a prime location — preferably an end space.
  • Put together a weather kit: rain gear for wet and snowy weather, and extra blankets for cold and windy weather.
  • Pack all dry, nonperishable goods for the tailgate party into your car the night before the big game.
  • Prepare your side dishes and baked goods the night before. Pack them in easy-to-stack containers.

The bare necessities of tailgating

  • Stock up on popular finger-food favorites like chips, chicken wings, burgers and hot dogs.
  • Bring plenty of snacks and side dishes — they’re always crowd-pleasers.
  • Keep everyone hydrated by keeping plenty of cool beverages around at all times.
  • Paper goods are an important necessity. Plates, cups, plenty of napkins or paper towels and, believe it or not, toilet paper (port-o-potties at stadiums run out fast).
  • To satisfy your grilling needs, pack the essentials: charcoal, a portable BBQ pit or, for serious tailgaters, the big grill from home.
  • Remember folding chairs and tables — basics no outdoor party should be without.
  • Post a flag or something noticeable for everyone in your party to find you more easily.

Don’t rush — leave that to the players

  • On game day, arrive 4 to 5 hours before the game, giving everyone enough time to eat, drink and enjoy.
  • Go to the spot you scouted previously. If it’s already claimed, don’t panic. Look for another spot with an ample parcel of grass or the end of a parking row (preferably both) to give you extra space.
  • Grilling in the game plan

Get cookin’, good lookin

  • Have your supplies organized and tools within arm’s reach.
  • Fire up the coals, relax a little and then get cookin’. Start serving food about an hour after arrival — this will give everyone ample time to eat, drink and get some team spirit going.
  • Meet your tailgating neighbors — the more the merrier.

Because cleaning up is hard to do

  • Once the food is cooked, let the briquettes in the grill cool off — you need to dispose of them safely. Throw sand or water over the coals to make sure they will not reignite. Then place them in a bag, and throw them away in the nearest trash can.
  • Get the kids involved. Make cleaning a fun activity for everyone to enjoy. They’ll feel important, have fun, and you’ll have a clean area in no time.

The great thing about tailgating is that it’s only as hard as you make it. Now that you have strategies to help, it’s time to get down to business and start the party planning. Go team!

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