As smooth as gliding with Fred and Ginger, some tailgaters have it down pat. The ones who look like they’ve been partying in the parking lot since the stone age—tailgating pros, if you will. While some tailgating parties are as tight and organized as a champion offensive line, others are as loose as a backyard game of two-hand touch.
Pumped up is what it’s all about. Pumped up team spirit, pumped up camaraderie, and of course, pumped up food. It’s all prelude to watching your favorite team square off on the gridiron
So it’s up to you to find your own style.
And if you’re new to tailgating, you can learn a lot by osmosis. Just grab your grill and some grub and hit the asphalt. Learn as you go.
Before heading out, however, here are a few pointers on tailgating basics that will help you get started in any direction you choose. Elaboration will come with experience once you have the basics down.
- Make a list. It doesn’t matter if your party is for 5 or 50, make a to-do list—and use it. The first time you get to the stadium and remember all the things you left at home, you will understand the wisdom of this advice.
- Ask yourself: How many people are attending? Are there any food preferences or allergies?
- Organize your equipment. This will be affected by the number of people who will attend. Do you need a portable gas-fueled tabletop grill that’s great for a small gathering? Or do you need something like the chuck-wagon-worthy Weber Ranch Kettle charcoal grill capable of turning out hot-off-the-grill delights in quantity for a hungry horde? Don’t forget collapsible tables for food prep.
- Plan your menu in two categories of food: do-ahead food and on-site food.
- Do-ahead foods include deli trays, salads, and heat-and-serve, including chili, stew, pot roast, whatever strikes your fancy. Decide if you are going to do all the food preparation yourself or ask for friends to help out with side dishes and salads.
- On-site food should be simple and quick to grill. Otherwsie, it would fall into the do-ahead category. Steaks, burgers, hot dogs, sausage, boneless or semi-boneless chicken, and kabobs of all sorts are the perfect crowd pleasers.
- Formulate Plan B for bad weather and cold.
- Some sort of canopy will provide a bit of shade relief on hot late-summer days when heated asphalt can add 10 to 15 degrees to the air temperature. And plan to have a range of beverages, not just beer, for keeping your tailgating crew well-hydrated.