Have you heard the expression, “plan your work, and work your plan”? While planning is paramount, starting with a list of necessities will help take the “work” out of your tailgate so you and your tailgate team can spend more time enjoying the party. Check out our printable Checklist of some essential items.
Location, Location, Location
These could be the three most important words in guaranteeing an enjoyable time at your tailgate party. It all ties back to planning, what is your tailgating style? Are you a small, subdued group, or do you pack ‘em in and party it up with the music blaring? If you are in the first group, think about where like minded groups gather, and plan on setting up near them. If you are in the second group don’t set up next to several small, quiet groups, neither of you will enjoy it. Rule of thumb is to set up with like minded tailgaters and respect everyone’s style.
Some stadiums parking lots have designated opening times- say four hours before a game. Know the rules for your particular spot. Get there early to get the best spots. The best place to park most likely is going to be at the end of a row so everyone will have plenty of space to enjoy themselves. You also may want to keep an eye out for any spots that are bordered by grassy areas-consider these spaces hitting the jackpot.
Prepare for the Unexpected
You never know what Mother Nature will throw at you (even if you do check the weather before hand), and you never know who will show up- so be prepared. Always have extra ponchos or rain gear (you can pick up some inexpensive disposable ones that fir into your pocket), an extra blanket or two, some sunscreen, some antacid, and a first aide kit. I always pack bungee cords and a tarp or two to help protect the tailgate from the sun, or wind. Extra drinks and snacks for unexpected guests come in handy and extra ice is s a given, and almost never goes to waste.
Dress for Success
Team colors are mandatory! For early season events be sure to wear light breathable clothes wear sunscreen and have sunglasses or a hat to keep the sun out of your eyes. A change of clothes can come in handy if you are caught in a rain shower, or if you are a victim of a nasty spill. Wear comfortable shoes if you plan on walking a lot.
For Fall and Winter events always dress in layers. If you get too hot take a layer off, too cold add a layer. Always pack more than you think you will need. Inexpensive, disposable hand warmers can be the difference from enjoying yourself, and sitting in the car to warm up- cheap insurance in my book. Don’t forget the gloves, scarves, warm hat, and heavy shoes / boots with heavy socks when the weather demands it! Your feet and hands are the first to get cold, and when they become cold you won’t enjoy yourself.
Clean up after yourself
Please have the curtsey to leave your tailgate site as clean, or cleaner, than when you arrived. Nobody likes looking at mounds of empty cans, leftover food, ashes, or other trash. Use trash cans, pack extra trash bags- and use them. Most areas have places to dispose of ashes, and areas, or special bags, for recyclable items. Cleaning up the mess left behind by unthoughtful groups is expensive, and you can bet these costs will passed on to everyone in the form of even higher fees, or ticket prices.
Other things to consider are:
Will the area flood or become a mud hole (been there, done that,and it’s no fun) Is the area out of the wind or sun? This makes a big difference, as sunny locations are cherished in the Winter, but not so much earlier in the season. A gentle breeze can help keep you cool in early Fall, but chill you to the bone during those chilly games.
Space, size, and location limitations will determine the size of your tailgate- don’t plan on parking four blocks away and lugging around a canopy, a few chairs, and a couple of ice chests unless you have a small army of helpers. Likewise, you may be limited if your set up in a parking lot. Odds are your won’t have a 20X20 canopy, or have room for fifty chairs and the same number of friends. Keep in mind that many key roads near the stadium will be shut down at some point before game time to account for pedestrian traffic. Be sure you know where these roads are and plan to be there before this happens, or have an alternate route in mind. By planning in advance you will understand your limitations and plan your tailgate accordingly, allowing for more enjoyment for everyone.
Depending on your group, you may want to avoid high traffic areas. If your group has small children, or plan on playing games such as washers, corn hole, or even throwing a ball around you probably don’t want to set up next to a high traffic area. If you enjoy people watching or don’t mind stragglers joining your tailgate, then this might be right where you want to set up. Also consider how the traffic levels will affect you on your arrival and departure. If you set up close, don’t plan on going anywhere fast after the event is over.
If your tailgate includes a satellite TV you must consider items such as tall buildings or trees, as you will need a clear line of site to the satellite. Be sure to check out the VENUE page for specific coordinates to your location. There are also some iphone apps to help you set up your satellite. If you have an older analog TV don’t forget your digital converter.
This can make or break you- know where they are and set up accordingly
Remember, there are plenty of tailgating locations to choose from- do some research and make sure the spot you have in mind works for you, your size group, and your style of party.