Tailgating Tips

(This will always be an incomplete list.  We are all, always learning.)

Develop a Routine

Like anything else, practice makes perfect and repetition makes permanent! You’re setting up a one day campsite. This may include a tent or canopy, chairs, tables a grill and other accessories. The best way to accomplish this without mass confusion is to do it the same way each time and in the same order. It will become habit forming and second nature. If you have a core group you tailgate with, let each person have a role. Sometimes it will take multiple people to accomplish things, others can be accomplished individually.

Unload your gear and stage it in an area that doesn’t interfere with where you will ultimately be set up. Let someone or some group set up your canopy. Once the canopy is up, someone can be in charge of unbagging and setting up chairs, while someone else sets up the table(s) and yet a third person sets up the grill. At this point, everyone can be working on their own chore, rather than one person trying to decide who can do what and people standing around waiting for direction or being in each others way. One of the roles can be designated for guest tailgaters, such as setting up the chairs. It’s pretty standard– anyone can do that. If you have brought along an extra guest this time, they’ll surely be trying to help you get set up and this is easy enough to delegate to them.

When packing up your gear, you should follow a similar routine. The benefit of doing it the same way and in the same order each time takes the guess work out of making it all fit back in to your vehicle like a puzzle. If you solve the puzzle of how it all fits once, do it that way every time. If that means you can put things away on the fly do it, if not, pack things up to your staging area again, then load them into your vehicle. Whatever your role was in setting up, should be the same role for tearing down. People can have multiple roles, as long as the time required to do them doesn’t overlap to keep others waiting.

Dress Appropriate

Consider the weather forecast for the day and the hours you will be involved. Our tailgating is mostly done in colder weather and typically endures for about 12 hours of my day. This includes travel time to and from, about five hours of tailgating before the game, three hours of game time and two hours of tailgating after the game. As a result, I will end up in multiple configurations to my outfit throughout the day.

During travel, I’m in the warmth of the Corporate Jet with the heater kicking so a lot less clothing is necessary. Upon arrival, I’m active during setup and my body heat will keep me warm for a bit. As the tailgate kicks off, I know I’m settling down for several hours and I’ll need more layers. At this point, I will put on some extra layers to keep myself warm, but I still keep the majority of my gear off. I know that if I start to get cold I can always put more layers on, but I also have the benefit of being active to keep warm and as a last result, get back inside of the Corporate Jet to take a break from the elements.

As kickoff draws near I prepare myself for the next phase. Now is what I’ll put on my entire collection of layers, or most of them and at least have the other layers available and with me inside the stadium. It is at this point that I will open up my hand and body-warmer packets and let them begin to heat. I highly suggest getting the ones for your feet as well, they do not depend on airflow since they are designed to be inside your shoes, stuck to the outside of your socks on the bottom of your feet. Usually, if you keep your feet warm, overall, your core will stay warm. Things to consider will be the cold seat you will be sitting on in the stadium, a possible swirling wind and the fact that you will be sitting still for the next three hours. Without any real movement or exercise, the cold will surely start to set in. This is how kids can play outside in the snow, often in freezing temperatures yet when they come inside, they still have broken quite a sweat.

Following the game, you’ll beactive and moving around once again, however, it’s probably a bit colder in temperature than it was before you went in to the game. At this point, I will keep many of my layers on, however I will change or remove any garments that might have become wet either from an unfortunate spill, weather or from your own perspiration. Sometimes a fresh pair of socks can be the best thing in the world.

Food and Drink

If you think of tailgating as a one day camping trip, you’re may feel limited to what you can cook on the spot by doing it with limited resources– typically a gas or charcoal grill, and sometimes with limited time.  However, there are still nearly endless possibilities. Burgers, Brats and Beer are the three B’s made popular at most tailgates, however, they don’t have to be your only choices. Consider food that you can prepare ahead of time at home, then ultimately use your grill to reheat or finish preparing at your tailgate. Chicken and Pork (sausages?) for example can be par-boiled at home, then grilled on the fly. Queso and warm dips can be made even days in advance, then reheated on the grill. Soups, including Chili can be made at home and kept warm in a Thermos insulated container. Grilled chicken breasts can be cooked at home, then kept warm in a seasoned water marinade on your grill. Check out our recipes section of this website for more ideas.

Supplies are equally important. The disposable aluminum trays are priceless, you can cook, reheat and store your food in them. One thing that we often do at our tailgate is prepare food that we will take into the stadium with us. Check the rules of your stadium to see what is permitted and what isn’t. Usually we will take in brats, sausages or hot-dogs. To make this simple we have condiments in individual packages (like the kind found at fast-food restaurants) and a box of aluminum foil that dispenses individual sheets of foil, much like a box of tissues. You pull out a small rectangular sheet and it will set up the next foil sheet for the next person to pull out. This makes it a cinch to grill a brat, plop it on a roll, then wrap it in foil. Carry that into the stadium along with a packet of mustard and you’ve got a snack in waiting. You’ll find ways to keep it warm, but even if it cools down, it still hits the spot.

Your drink of choice will vary. Beer being the most popular, but other alcohol, soda and even water will be prominent. I shouldn’t have to and won’t lecture about knowing your limits, choosing a designated driver and pacing your alcohol. The only point to make is to mind your seating location in the stadium in reference to the restroom. Even if there is one outside of your section, how many rows of steps will it take for each trip? Where do you sit in the row, near the end or in the middle? Out of respect to those who have to stand each time to let you out of the row, you should try to limit your trips out of your seat as much as possible– that and you don’t want to miss much of the game. Also, consider the weather again– extreme cold, or even extreme heat should make a difference in how you quench your thirst.

… stay tuned for more Tailgating Tips, or feel free to submit your own to add to this list!