A rite of passage for the true football fan, the tailgating experience portrays more than beer guzzling and the thrusting various meat products into your face. A certain swagger and confidence in your tailgating experience will show the ultimate symbol of team pride. An organized, established, and well-prepped football party in a stadium parking lot will give your guests an easy and enjoyable time – while rubbing it in the faces of the other team.

Whether its your first time or you’re a regular, there are some things to know about tailgating.

Plan Ahead

If you are going to Sunday’s game, start your gridiron locomotive of a party on Saturday night. Anything that doesn’t have to be refrigerated can be stored in the car. You’ll want to use well sealed, plastic containers to keep all of your cold products for organizational purposes. Use any normal ice chests you have for food only and not drinks. Use 5-6 ice bags throughout the cooler to keep the food ready. And don’t worry if your meat isn’t ice cold – it’s better to grill your chosen animal at room temperature.

Barkeep!

One of the most annoying occurrences in tailgating remains to be the search for different drinks in different coolers. Even Indiana Jones would get upset if it came close to shotgun beer time and he couldn’t procure a frosty brew. Hence using ice chests for food and using….. well, use your head for a cooler. Look around your house or garage. I can almost guarantee that you or your friends have a large, open item to put all your alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks in. For example: a kiddy pool or those long Rubbermaid containers that go under your bed. Good work MacGyver!

King of the Hill:

While having an awesome time with the utmost respect for other people’s property and opinion should be at the top of everyone’s tailgating list, some people take these occasions with exceptional seriousness. Since chance favors the prepared mind, get there 3-4 hours before the game begins so you can pee on your territory. Hang banners, make signs, paint faces/chests, but whatever you do show that this party was set up to be the measuring stick. All the prep work you did on food the night before should give you the time here to have a great, organized setup (especially since you parked at the end of the aisle, allowing you to spread out your rocking pigskin throw-down).

Mud In Your Eye:

Since you have a killer vessel to store all your drinks, now is the time to decide what you want in it. I’ve seen bloody mary bars, mimosa bars, margarita bars, and, if you want to put the time and organization into it, they can be a great addition to your event. However, the professionals will tell you to keep it simple, like in most walks of life. Have your party stick to beer, various types of wonderful, flowing, ice-cold beer. It is great on a hot day and wonderful if you have fallen in love with a craptastic team. You should set your inventory by planning on two beers per person on the hour.

Eat! Eat! Eat!

Whatever you use to grill, it really doesn’t matter. Some people love gas, others charcoal, but when it comes down to it you need to use what you are comfortable with. Like the beverages, you can get complicated but keep it relatively simple for the best experience. Keep with hot dogs and burgers for people who don’t care. If you need or desire to get fancy with your feast, go with a brilliantly marinated chicken or bratwursts on rolls with onions and peppers. Figure everyone is going to eat at least two of anything you cook, but you’ll want more for the new friends (and enemies) you should be making!

Bare Minimum Essentials:

Grill, aluminum foil, tongs, paper towels, old oven mitt, beer, heavy plastic plates, durable forks/knives, a gallon of water, fire extinguisher, waterproof stick matches, and a simple spice kit: salt/pepper/cumin/pepper flakes.

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