In our final installment, we talk about the finishing touches for your best tailgating season come rain, snow or shine.
Like the team you cheer on every Saturday (and Sunday), you need practice to know what you can and can’t properly execute. If you are a veteran tailgater, there’s still no reason not to shake off the rust.
What can you do to improve? Let’s go over the basics:
Know What’s Coming - If it’s four-person meal before the game or a multi-family shindig that goes for hours on end starting early in the day, the Boy Scouts say it best – Be prepared.
Food, supplies and time all must be considered before the invites go out. You can get away with doing this all the day before, but that’s not a good week-to-week strategy. Extra planning is crucial when you add in classic tailgate games like cornhole and television setups with satellite/internet tether connections to be the envy of your peers.
Have Your Supply Locations Locked Down – As mentioned when discussing meat and sides, getting a membership to a warehouse like Sam’s Club or Costco may be a quality investment. You can save a bundle on bulk quantities of food, tableware or larger needs such as setup items or tents.
If your party doesn’t exceed six people, this route may not save you much money. However, if you’re constantly feeding 20-plus on a weekly basis, you’ll come out far ahead.
Plan, Plan and Plan Some More - Being a meticulous tailgater helps, especially when you are setting up and tearing down.
Knowing everything that can happen during the party is more than just food prep. It also means knowing your location/space available, keeping track of any tent situations, how many chairs/tables you have/need and having your waste/trash removal system ready.
Taking care of the hardcore planning well in advance is highly recommend. Not only for your sanity, but for your friends to have an even better time.
Dress Reharsals Are Fine - If you’re not sure how things will go down, have a pre-season tailgate! A driveway or a circle/street with no outlet works out well for something like this.
If you don’t have the room, see if a friend can help and offer some free grub for their trouble. Tackling more difficult tasks like hanging a flat screen outside your vehicle is a skill that could use a few do-overs, if necessary.
Discovering how much room you have to work with versus how much you need is not something you want to find out on gameday.
Be Adaptable – As much as you’ll plan, there will always be surprises. Maybe the macaroni salad didn’t get packed correctly. Maybe someone left the buns untied and now they can chip concrete. Perhaps the people next to you can’t park worth a snot - it’s alright.
These things aren’t going to end your party or your fun. If you don’t have enough buns, use lettuce to wrap burgers (one of In n Out’s best lessons to learn).
When you’re ready to invite people, give them clear times on when you’re showing up, closing up shop and what they could bring to help defray costs such as food, drinks or pitching in a couple of bucks.
99 times out of 100, people don’t mind helping you out in some way for all of the work you’re doing. Having a deadline to RSVP helps, but expect some guests to not show while others will pop in out of the blue.
In closing, I can’t stress this enough: remember that even though you’re the host, having fun and starting the gameday experience with a bang is what’s most important.
There’s a game to attend and you’re just as important as the other 86,000 in attendance.