Top Tips for Tailgating
Labor Day has passed, summer vacations are over, and the kids are back in school; while it might seem that all the fun is behind us, football fans welcome a new season of their favorite sport, celebrating many weekend games in the parking lot of their team’s arena.
Whether you're a superfan or just love one, the start of the season means it's time for tailgating. And for those who love to entertain, tailgating is almost as much a sport as the game itself.
Game day festivities for football fans ultimately begin in the parking lot where tailgating celebrations are nearly as important as the action on the field. Whether you're one who likes to play it simple with hot dogs and folding tables, or prefer to go all the way with table cloths and gourmet grub, we’ve compiled a list of tailgating tips to help your gatherings go off without a hitch. We’ve also collected information on some popular vehicles that provide the best features for fall football tailgating festivities. If you're one of those people who will spend every weekend from now until the end of November celebrating your football team in a parking lot somewhere, these tips should come in handy to make your game day gatherings a success.
Game Day Essentials: Barbecues!
Barbecue purists will tell you they prefer a real charcoal barbecue for flavor, but for portability and simplicity, nothing beats the convenience of propane-powered portable models. Cleanup is easier, as there are no messy coals to dispose of and you don't have to wait for the coals to cool down before you can put it away. Disposable portable propane tanks can be purchased on Amazon.com or wherever you would purchase barbecues or camping equipment, or many of the small portable models can be linked to a larger refillable propane tank with the purchase of a hose adapter.
If you’ll be doing a lot of tailgating, consider this Coleman LXX portable gas grill for about 200 bucks. This thing is awesome! It weighs about 50 pounds but comes on its own portable foldable rolling stand that opens and closes with one hand, making it nearly as easy to use as a stroller for a baby. It's got a large, heavy-duty cooking surface, as well as foldout table trays to hold your food and condiments and hooks on the front to hold your grilling tools. This barbecue is also great for apartment or condo dwellers, because it can be easily stored after use and doesn't have to monopolize a small patio.
If you don’t want to part with two Benjamins, Coleman also makes a smaller, portable rolling model with a stand for about a hundred bucks. The Coleman RoadTrip Propane Grill has fewer bells and whistles, is lighter and smaller, but still really portable and convenient because it has its own stand.
Weber -- the traditional favorite for barbecue fans -- makes a deluxe portable grill with a large surface for about $150, and while it doesn't have a wheelie stand for portability, it's small enough to be easily transported for table-top use.
Cuisinart also makes a super portable model for about a hundred bucks. It doesn't roll, but it folds up neatly, only weighs about 13 pounds, and has a convenient carry handle.
Inexpensive and very simple tabletop models for $50 and less can be found wherever you would buy barbecues or camping equipment, such as Target, WalMart, Sears, etc. They're not as fancy or durable as the upscale ones and require a safe cooking surface to use them on, but they allow you to tailgate on a budget.
Make Tailgating Easier Through Preparation, Serving, and Cleanup:
Keep presentation and cleanup simple and use disposable plates and utensils. Colorful, disposable tablecloths and picnic items can be found at the 99 cent store. Show your team colors without spending a fortune!
Wear an apron: nobody wants to be at the game smelling and looking like they just left a barbecue grill. Aprons are cheap and easy to find in a variety of styles at places like Target, and Williams-Sonoma. Don’t miss the adorable selection of aprons for him, her, and the kids at flirtyaprons.com!
Prep food ahead of time and stash in resealable bags so there's less to do at the barbecue. This will help ensure you don't get there and realize you've forgotten something important and also streamlines cleanup, so you don't have to bring home dirty food storage containers that have been sitting in the car getting hot and gross during the game. Be sure to pack a few extra large-sized bags to tuck the used barbecue utensils into after you're done using them.
For cleanup before and after, be sure to bring lots of paper towels and some kind of degreaser. I like this Clorox antibacterial degreaser because it is powerful and kills everything, so you can be sure your picnic area is clean and SANITARY!! Also available in handy wipes, this is an awesome cleanup product that will leave your barbecue nice and clean after use as well, so you don't have to worry about greasy spatter messing up the inside of your car trunk or truckbed when you put everything away.
After eating and playing, it’s super easy to clean up hands and faces with hand-sanitizing wipes like these rolls of towelettes available at CVS: Why keep them in the car just for tailgating? If you've got kids or pets, then these should live permanently in your car for all kinds of cleanup chores.
Those sports arena parking lots are enormous, which means a porta-potti may not be conveniently located. Male attendees don’t seem to be very bothered by this problem, but ladies should be prepared with their own "GoGirl" female urination device. The GoGirl is neat, discreet, and hygienic, and it's the perfect alternative to crowded, disgusting, distant, or non-existent public bathrooms.
Last, don't forget to pack a first-aid kit with a soothing burn ointment. With so many people and activities surrounding the grill, somebody -- whether it's a guest, a child, or the chef -- might get too close, and you'll want to soothe and protect minor burns.
Tips to Help You Be a Great Host:
Hardcore tailgaters don’t want to leave their living room behind; they want to enjoy the game with all the conveniences of home, which means you need to have room to haul in your tailgating conveniences. Think of tailgating like throwing a party for the Super Bowl -- except you'll be inviting everybody in the parking lot to join the fun!
Don't have room in your ride to bring a table? No worries! This Sports Fan Tailgate Table Camping/Tailgate Table from Boone attaches to your vehicle's hitch receiver during transport and use for quick, rock solid operation. Set up for your next road trip meal in seconds without giving up valuable cargo space.
In addition to any "spirited" beverages you might bring, you'll also want to be sure you have plenty of water to stay hydrated, as the day can get long and the weather can be especially warm this time of year. With that in mind, you'll also want to keep some sunscreen on hand, to prevent getting a sunburn.
Bring games to play, and keep in mind that passersby may want to join in on your fun. A fun game I discovered while researching this story is KanJam, which uses a flying disk (aka "Frisbee") and a target for teammates to earn points. KanJam provides healthy exercise, improves coordination skills. and encourages friendly competition without physical contact.
If you have a vehicle with a power supply, you might even be able to bring a large screen television to play videogames while you're tailgating. Some vehicles, such as the 2014 GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado, also boast auxiliary audio/video inputs to allow you connect your game console through the car's own entertainment system.
If you choose to toss a football, be sure to keep it in the common areas and away from your neighbor's gathering. Nobody wants their barbecue tipped over by an errant football pass!
Tips to Help you Find the Perfect Tailgating Vehicle:
If you’re shopping for a new car to help with your tailgating adventures, consider the following features.
If you’re the family bringing the sofa, television, tent, and full-size barbecue, consider a full-size pickup truck like the GMC Sierra. Renovated from the ground-up, the 2014 GMC SIerra features a refreshed exterior, completely redesigned interior, upgraded powertrains, and three pick-up box sizes (5.8-, 6.6- or 8-foot beds) to bring along everything you might need. To make tailgating even easier, the Sierra features hydraulic dampers to make raising and lowering the tailgate super easy, and boasts a convenient step on either side of the bumper to aid getting into the bed.
Football fans fixated on safety -- no, not the two-point endzone score! -- may want to consider the 2013 Cadillac SRX, thanks to an especially helpful feature for families with young children. An Automatic Occupant Sensing System prevents penalties for premature unbuckling by displaying icons on the dash to indicate which rear seats are occupied and whether those passengers have buckled their seatbelts, allowing you to ensure everybody is safely buckled in without requiring you to turn your head to look.
Honda's Odyssey minivan boasts an excellent reputation for safety, resale, and reliability, as well as an awesome “HondaVac feature” in its Touring Elite model. The super cool HondaVac promises to make quick cleanups a snap no matter where you are, offering powerful cleaning suction with an integrated hose and cleaning attachments that reach into every corner of the Odyssey's cabin.
Looking for a way to bring lots of people and tailgating gear? Then consider these other super-large utility vehicles: The Ford Expedition features 108.3 cubic feet of cargo space behind the first row, 55 cubic feet behind the second-row seats, and 18.6 cubic feet of stuff behind all eight passengers. The Dodge Durango holds a maximum of 84.5 cubic feet of cargo space behind the first row, 47.7 cubic feet behind the second row, and 17.2 cubic feet of stowage behind the third row of seats. The Chevrolet Tahoe can hold up to 108.9 cubic feet with the third row removed and the second row folded forward, 60.3 cubic feet with the third row removed, and 16.9 cubic feet of stuff behind nine passengers.
No matter what, your "goal" is to have a great time while tailgating. Careful preparation can help you throw a great tailgating event. Enjoy!