Tailgating Tips

grillingTailgating parties are a long-standing tradition for fans before pro and college football games but they're also great for baseball games, basketball games, auto races, other sporting events, and even rock concerts! Of course, a pickup truck or SUV is the perfect vehicle for tailgating but if you have a car, you can still set up a portable party as long as you bring the essentials.

If you're new at this, we've got some handy tailgating tips to make your little party a successful precursor to the main event you will be attending... Just remember that good sportsmanship will ensure a positive experience for fans of all teams.

Find a Good Location

Check out locations in advance. This includes rules for the stadium parking lot. Some have strict restrictions against alcohol due to unruly fan behavior. Not all will allow tailgating and many have time limits for parking. If you live near the stadium or know someone who does, having your party on private property may be your best bet. Wherever you decide, get there early for a good spot! Also, it's wise to inform everyone to carry their I.D. because they may be held up or even miss part of the game if it's not readily available.

Invite Friends

After picking your general location, invite all friends and family that will be attending the football game. You don't have to send out physical invitations, especially if you have frequent parties during the season, but you will need to get the word out and ask people to stop by for food, talk, and perhaps a little pep rally. Part of tailgating fun is meeting new people, even fans of visiting teams so make sure you set out the welcome mat and share information with guests for local bars and attractions they may be interested in.

Be Organized

Your tailgate party will go off without a hitch if you plan wisely and anticipate possible problems. Assign tasks and a supply list to friends and family that are willing to help. Check the weather forecast and plan accordingly. Rain or shine, there's something to be concerned about. Bring supplies such as sunscreen, sunglasses, hats, lip balm, and insect repellant to protect your skin. Share what you can! A canopy or tent is a convenient way to provide shade for partygoers and attract more visitors. The more, the merrier, right?

Decorate

Of course, your shirts and attire will convey which team you're rooting for but it's nice to decorate in team colors. Whatever your colors, you should be able to find gear that has one or all colors. Keep this in mind when buying coolers, lawn chairs, raincoats, jackets, etc. Additional supplies such as pennants, decals, magnets, paper plates, and napkins are a nice touch if it's in your budget.

Provide Access to Media

More people will stick around if you have a radio available for listening to pregame talk and activities. Those who travel frequently may want to use their t.v. and satellite dish for watching pregame or other games in progress. Current newspaper articles and articles printed from websites will also be of interest. The more information you provide, the more there will be to discuss.

Play Music

If there's nothing related to your event on the radio or satellite, set the atmosphere with music. You can play the school fight song and other songs that are popular at sporting events. We are the Champions, Eye of the Tiger, Back in Black, Take Me out to the Ball Game, and YMCA are all good songs for rallying the crowd.

Cook Out

Picnic foods are traditional for tailgating. Pre-made salads, sandwiches, side dishes, chips, dip, and other munchies are all fan favorites and easy to haul. Have an early game? Serve breakfast food and Bloody Marys or orange juice. For more menu ideas, check recipes online. You'll find plenty for just about any occasion.

If possible, bring a portable grill to cook hamburgers, hot dogs, fish or whatever else you desire. Alternatively, you can use a slow cooker to keep pre-cooked barbeque beef, pork, or sloppy joes warm. If alcohol is allowed, make sure you don't give any to minors. Always keep pop or punch available for kids and those who prefer not to drink.

More Tips

- Practice some pest control to reduce the chances of unwanted guests, particularly for night games.

- Bring a camera and take photos at your tailgating party. Underdog or not, this just may be the game that your team will win big. 

- Do a thorough cleanup afterwards. It's your responsibility to leave the area just as you found it.

- Bring as many lawn chairs as possible because, chances are, you'll be short on seats.

- If you need more ideas, go to Google Images and type in "tailgating." You'll find pictures of tailgating parties and how others have set them up.

- Again, be a good sport. Win or lose, treat fans of other teams with respect. You will represent your team well and those fans will tell other people about their experience, maybe even on a message board online.