Tips for Tailgating
Counting down the days until your next tailgating party? Preparing to host your first tailgate? Whatever your experience, you can always use more tips for tailgating. You want the day to go smoothly so you can celebrate your favorite team with friends and family without any worries. With the right tailgating tips, you’ll remember everything you need to bring and cook up some delicious tailgating fare.
Make your next get together a hit by knowing how to tailgate safely and efficiently. From cleanup tips to the best food to grill, some simple prep will elevate your tailgate on the day of the big game.
Tailgating Prep Tips
If you’ve prepped for a backyard barbeque before, you almost know how to tailgate. There are some similar tips you can follow for tailgating, including:
- Have a guest list or headcount
- Create a menu based on the guest list
- Know how much cooking space you have
- Think about condiments and toppings guests may want
Since you won’t be at home when you’re tailgating and grilling, you’ll need to prepare a bit more than you would for a backyard barbeque. Whether it’s your first time tailgating or you’re as much of a pro as the athletes you’re supporting, it helps to have tailgating tips. Things will go more smoothly if you:
1. Know the rules of where you’re tailgating: Stadiums may have regulations that’ll impact what you can bring tailgating. Research beforehand so you don’t get turned away for bringing something forbidden.
2. Bring aluminum foil: Even if you don’t have a plan for it, you’ll need aluminum foil at some point. Wrap food in it before cooking, use it to contain leftovers or make trays in a pinch if you didn’t bring enough.
3. Get duplicate tools: No need to raid your kitchen or grill every time there’s a tailgate to attend. Keep an extra set of grilling tools in a plastic bin so you can grab it and go. Store them in a clear container so you remember where they are without going through all of your storage.
4. Get comfortable: Bring portable seating and tables so you and your fellow sports fans can eat in comfort. Make prepping and serving food easier by having enough workspace for everything you need.
5. Coordinate with your friends and family: Discuss beforehand who’s bringing what. One car can bring the tables and chairs, giving you more room for your portable grill and food. See if anyone plans on bringing drinks, sides or other dishes so you don’t have duplicates.
6. Claim your territory: If you’re tailgating at the event, make sure you show up early enough to claim a spot. Let your guests know where you end up and save space for everyone.
7. Know the weather: Depending on where you’re tailgating, you’ll need different supplies. If you’re headed to a football game in the Northeast or other cold areas, make sure everyone bundles up. Bring blankets, coffee and hot chocolate to stay warm. In hotter climates, bring cold drinks, sunblock, sunglasses and other items to keep the sun away.
8. When in doubt, get team colors: As you get supplies, support your team. Choose branded merch or colors that show your team spirit. It’s worth the investment if you’ll be tailgating at more team games for seasons to come.
9. Clean your grill at home: No one wants to wait for you to clean last night’s dinner off your grill before it’s time to eat. Get your grill looking right before you pack it up for tailgating. A clean grill won’t leave ash or other residue in your vehicle when you transport it.
10. Bring multi-tasking items: Space is limited in your vehicle and at the tailgating site. Bring items that serve many purposes so you have room for other things. Plastic milk crates will keep propane tanks sturdy or corral bags of snacks. You can then use them as a height boost for coolers so family and friends don’t have to bend over so much when grabbing a drink. You could also use a milk crate as a step stool when putting up a tent, flags or balloons. Milk crates can even be seating in a pinch or if you forgot extra chairs.
Make sure you prep your food, as well. Prepare salads and sides the day before so you only have to pull them out of the cooler when it’s eating time. Cut up meat or vegetables and marinade everything the night before tailgating. The more work you do at home, the easier tailgating will be. Since space is limited at a tailgate and you have your friends and family to spend time with, don’t spend the whole time getting food ready to grill and serve.
The tailgating tips above will help ensure you have a great time tailgating and grilling, but a tailgate checklist will make sure you remember everything you need.
Essential Tailgate Items
Create the ultimate tailgating checklist so you don’t leave anything behind. It’s easy to forget something small that you don’t usually think about needing. Develop a checklist to have on hand for future tailgating parties, and add to it if you realize something could’ve come in handy. Here’s a list of essential tailgate items to get you started:
- A portable grill
- Fuel for the grill
- A spatula
- A grill brush and scraper
- A bottle opener
- Plates, cups, bowls and eating utensils
- Heatproof gloves
- A food thermometer
You’ll need those tools for cooking, eating and partying. You can pack many of those in a clear plastic bin for easy storage and transport. Some other essentials to have on your tailgating checklist include:
- Wet wipes and paper towels
- Tickets and passes
- Bluetooth speaker
- Tables for prepping and serving food on
- Tents or canopies for blocking the sun
- Garbage bags and collapsible bins
- Games to play while you wait for the big game to start
- Enough coolers for drinks, food and raw meat
- Ice, ice packs or frozen water bottles
It may seem like a lot, but you have to be prepared. It’s difficult if not impossible to leave once you set up if you realize you forgot to bring something vital. Here’s where having other guests will help. Ask others to bring certain items on your checklist. Splitting up the list means you don’t have to cram your vehicle with grills, coolers, chairs and tables.
Once you’ve packed your car, it’s time to head out for a fun yet safe tailgating party.
Safety and Cleanup Tips for Tailgating
Tailgating and grilling in the outdoors are easy if you take the right steps. Any time you use a grill, be extremely cautious. Bring two things to make your tailgating setup safer — a first aid kit and a fire extinguisher. You should also follow these steps to make your tailgating site a safer one when you set it up:
- Define your space to avoid your neighbors or traffic passing through
- Have balloons or flags tied up at your spot so no one gets lost trying to find you
- Set up your grill where smoke won’t blow into other’s faces
- If your grill is under a canopy, make sure you have good airflow
- Keep your serving table and drink cooler away from your cooking area
Once everything is set up and you light the grill, some vigilance will protect everyone at the party. For the best way to grill at a tailgate safely, make sure that you:
- Cook on a clean grill to avoid flare-ups
- Keep kids and pets away from the grill
- Keep an eye on your grill when it’s on
- Dowse coals or pellets once you’re done with the grill
- Let the grill cool before cleaning it and packing it away
After a safe and fun time eating and cheering on your team, it’s time to pack up and head home. Cleanup at a tailgating site will be simple if you follow these tips:
1. Use wet wipes or a wash station: Offer wet wipes to friends and family, especially if they’re chowing down on ribs or other messy food. Use antibacterial wipes after you’ve handled raw meat, too. You can also create a wash station or have some spare gallon jugs of water for rinsing anything.
2. Have a plan for leftovers: You don’t want to let your hard work go to waste. Have take-out containers, foil pans and other storage for leftovers. Send your guests home with some or pack them up in your cooler once the tailgating fun is over.
3. Take home what you bring: Some stadiums have this policy, but it’s courteous practice no matter where you tailgate. Don’t leave any litter, ash from grills or other things behind. Check your site once you’re done packing up to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything.
4. Have multiple bins and bags: Bring plenty of heavy-duty garbage bags to clean up during and after tailgating. Have ones accessible where your fellow sports fans are eating and drinking to make sure trash finds its way to the bins. Use collapsible garbage bins or laundry hampers with a heavy-duty garbage bag inside. These fold up, taking up less space in your vehicle and at home when not in use. Get different colors to use for trash and recycling so everyone knows the difference.
5. Scout out disposal areas: Many tailgating areas offer places to dump coal and wood ash from your grill as well as garbage and recycling. Take a walk around before the party starts so you can figure out a game plan once the fun is done.
6. Collect and throw out garbage as the day goes on: Don’t wait until the end of the night to throw out bags of trash and recycling. Once you have a couple of full bags, take them to the disposal area. You’ll especially want to do this if it’s a hot day and you’ve thrown out a lot of food scraps. Keep bugs and smells away with proper site care.
7. Use aluminum foil: Cook in or on foil to make cleaning your grill easier at the end of the day. Your grill won’t get as greasy, and you can ball up the foil and toss it out.
Tailgating is always fun, but when you have a safe time and clean up afterward, it’s even better. Of course, the best part of tailgating is sharing delicious food with friends and family.
Best Foods to Grill at a Tailgate
Try to stick to foods that need minimal prep once you get to the tailgating site. You should also think about how your friends and family will eat the food once it’s done. Serving handheld food at a tailgate will make a lot of things easier. You won’t need to pack as many utensils, meaning there’s less cleanup or trash than if you use plastic. Your guests don’t need to sit down or have a table to eat, either, when everything is handheld. For the best foods to grill at a tailgate, serve up:
4. Skewers: Use any meat you and your guests would enjoy on some skewers. From beef meatball kebabs to chicken and bacon skewers, these versatile dishes can be snacks or mains. Skewer up a variety of veggies for more grilled deliciousness.
6. Grilled sides: Get creative on the grill with some handheld sides. Throw down some classic corn on the cob or kick bruschetta up a notch with a shrimp topping. Serve these along with grilled meat for a filling meal or offer it up before the mains are ready to curb some hunger.
7. Handheld desserts: Offer simple sweets like cookies decorated with your team’s colors or logo. If you’re allowed to have an open flame or want to involve your grill in dessert time, try out s’mores.
If you’re serving up mains that take longer to cook, make sure you start grilling them on time. Have a schedule in mind for when you need to get everything on the grill or out for guests. Set out snacks for your friends and family to munch on if grilling will take a while. No matter what you serve up, you’ll want some quality tools for tailgating and grilling.
Tailgate With Grilla Grills
If you need the right gear to complete your tailgating checklist, check out what we have at Grilla Grills. From sauces and rubs to coolers, koozies and other cool accessories, we’ve got what you need for an awesome tailgate time.
For a high-quality portable grill, check out the Chimp. This wood pellet grill makes the perfect guest at any tailgating party. It packs as much heat as other non-portable grills and provides the same smoky flavor.