Fall is synonymous with so many things – cooler temperatures, leaves changing colors and of course football, which also means tailgating! Whether you’re a true football fan or not, more than likely you’ll be attending at least one viewing party or tailgating party; it’s one of the most enjoyable aspects of sports in general! If it’s your turn to have a Sunday viewing party to watch the games, or you’re lucky enough to go see your team play in person and you’re in charge of putting together the pre-game party, don’t panic! We have a few tips and tricks that should make your tailgate run smoothly.
If you happen to be tailgating before the big game, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Prep all of your meats the night before. Make sure to marinade any beef, steak, chicken overnight. If you want to make burgers, make the patties the night before as well.
- Arrive at least four hours before the game. The earlier you get there, the more time you have to set up, eat, and clean up without feeling rushed. Most NFL teams open the parking gates four to five hours prior to kickoff. The rules and times for tailgating at college games are a little different. Whether it’s college or professional, be sure to check on your team’s website prior to the game for more information.
- Don’t forget napkins, plates, and utensils. Baby wipes or any kind of wet naps work perfectly for messy eaters and cleaning up! Pack some extras as well. It’s always better to have too much.
- Keep food and drinks in separate coolers and use frozen water bottles in the cooler with the food instead of ice to keep the cooler cold and the food from “drowning.”
- Clean up after yourself! There’s no cleaning service to pick up after you, so bringing trash bags are a must!
- Bring the grill, the tools (spatulas/tongs) and charcoal to go with it.
- Decorate your designated tailgate area! Fly a flag to help your friends find your spot, and to show support for your team.
- Other items you might want to bring with you (or maybe have people bring): jumper cables in case your battery runs dead from running the car to play music; toilet paper; extra ice; rain/snow gear (maybe not necessarily on the west coast, but definitely needed in other parts of the country, especially later on into the season); first aid kit, sunblock, comfortable shoes, and antacid (trust me, you’ll need it).
If you’re having a viewing party at your home, many of the tips for tailgating apply to your viewing party (prepping the meals the night before, having paper plates, utensils, napkins, etc., having charcoal for the grill), but here are a few additional things to think about:
- Have a designated area – whether indoors or outside – to watch the game. The living room or the backyard are the best options and be sure to decorate it with team colors.
- Have a couple of televisions to air the different games. Trust me, your guests will appreciate it.
FOOD: Whether you plan on tailgating at the stadium, or at home, ditch the traditional stuff for these simple, unconventional meals!
- Breakfast Burritos: Perfect for those “early” games. Use a skillet on your grill to make this delicious recipe even easier to make!
- Mini Pigs in a Blanket: These childhood favorites are incredibly easy to make! To make them even tastier add a little garlic salt and Parmesan cheese on the blankets before baking!
- Grilled Corn: This is a delicious way to make sure not all your tailgate foods are high in fat and calories. Add kosher salt and maybe different types of butter for flavoring.
- Mini Pizzas: The best thing about having mini pizzas at any party is letting your guests choose what goes on their pizzas. You can have a toppings bar filled with different types of cheese, vegetables and meats.
- Buffalo Chicken Dip: This is my favorite dip to have at any viewing party! To make it even tastier use a rotisserie chicken rather than the canned chicken.
*Be sure to have snack foods too. A veggie tray, chips, and crackers are always party favorites*
Fun and Drinks: Fun and drinks are just as important as the prep and food. Make sure to have some fun games, here are four of my favorite tailgating games:
- Bags (also known as Cornhole)
- Beer Pong
- Ladder Toss
- Flip Cup
Great fall beers: Since it’s fall, there are some great seasonal ales that would be the perfect addition to any tailgate:
- Angel City Oktoberfest (available in Los Angeles only)
- Angry Orchard Crisp Apple, or any of the seasonal options
- Dogfish Head Punkin
- Allagash Tripel
- Ale Smith Evil Dead Red
*For drinking games use any light beer and always pack extra cups. You can never have enough.*
The best overall advice I could give to anyone planning to host their own tailgating party – whether it’s at the game or at you’re home – is to keep things simple and always plan ahead. Go team!
–Cara Meyers, Guest Contributor