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Tailgate Party

Even if you don’t know the difference between a touchdown and a touchback, everyone loves a pre-game tailgate. What’s better than firing up the grill, blasting tunes and catching up with friends? Keep the food simple (you’re creating a mobile kitchen, after all) and crowd-pleasing, and you’ll garner your own fan club by kickoff.

The Game Plan

  • Koozies, can holders, can coolers. No matter what you call them, be sure to bring them along.
  • Keep it easy. Bring disposable cups, plates, utensils and napkins. Feeling like a cheerleader? Buy everything in your team’s colors.
  • There’s no “I” in “team” (never mind the one in “tailgate”!), and quarterbacking a successful tailgate doesn’t mean you have to go it alone. If you’re providing the burgers or brats, ask friends to bring the taco dip, chips, cookies or their favorite game-day snack.
  • Designate your most competitive pal to set up a killer Bloody Mary bar (the competitive types always bring the best fixings!) Invest in a simple compartmentalized plastic container to lighten the load and make for easy servings for all the extras.
  • For all other beverages, encourage everyone to BYOB. It cuts down on costs and ensures the whole gang will have the soda, beer or hooch they enjoy.

Food Playbook

  • Make up the burger patties the night before. Try placing parchment or wax paper between them—it keeps them from sticking together and will keep your hands from getting too meaty (especially when you don’t know if there will be a sink nearby).
  • Meatless mavens in your group? Throw some veggies on the grill. Make sure they brown up a bit for more flavor. They might even turn your group’s biggest carnivore into a veg head (at least until the burgers are done).
  • Anything prepared on a stick is easy to eat on the fly. Create brownies on a stick and deck them out in your team’s colors for a festive treat. 
  • Barbecuing is easy, but dealing with a smoking hot grill right before heading into the game gets tricky. Most stadiums have policies when it comes to disposing of the coals. Check out the stadium’s website for more details. (pullout tip) Always douse coals with water before tossing them out (and not into a plastic garbage can!).

Pre-game Fun

  • Bring the beanbag set, washer games and ladder toss. Or send an email to those pre-gaming with you—someone in your group is bound to have one of these setups sitting in the garage.
  • You can’t go wrong with a football, Frisbee or trusty ol’ baseball and mitt.
  • Got kids? Bring face paint.

The Checklist:

  • Grill
  • Charcoal
  • Lighter fluid
  • Lighter
  • Burgers/hot dogs/brats
  • Ketchup, mustard, relish, sauerkraut
  • Buns
  • Grill tools
  • Grill wok for veggies (optional! The plain old grate will do as long as you keep slices large)
  • Garbage bags for trash/recycling
  • Plates, utensils, napkins
  • Tablecloth
  • Ice
  • Camping chairs
  • Collapsible table
  • Tunes
  • Games (football to toss around, bean bag toss)
  • Face paint
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Duct tape (you’ll be glad you brought it)