Tis the Season to Tailgate
From the Air Force Falcons to the CU Buffs, the CSU Rams to the Denver Broncos, opportunities abound to tailgate in style. But the prep and party can turn into a lot of work and very little fun without proper organization and forethought.
Show Up Early
Plan to arrive at your tailgate location four hours before game time. This will allow plenty of time for set up. Your schedule should also include a two-hour serving window prior to the game so that everyone has time to enjoy his or her meal, while also having the opportunity to pitch in during clean up before heading into the stadium.
Organization makes any tailgate more successful. Pack a kit of necessary but non-perishable items like grilling tools, serving pieces, flatware and napkins so you are sure to have anything you need at the ready. Remember to chill everything in advance before placing them in the cooler, especially drinks. If you are short on cooler space, freeze bottled water and use it to double as the icing agent while also providing refreshment to thirsty tailgate attendees. If your guests are not familiar with your tailgate location, plan to bring a large balloon or flag for easier identification as they wander the parking lot looking for you.
Think ahead for safe and easy clean up. If you plan to use charcoals and a portable grill, you’ll need to bring a metal bucket to store the used charcoals in when cooled. And don’t forget to check wind direction before you start grilling. You’ll want the smoke headed away from your camp. If you are using non-disposable plates, cups and serving pieces, bring a plastic tub to store dirty dishes for the ride home. And remember to bring plenty of trash bags that can be anchored at your site for your guests to use.
When planning your menu, think about items that will be easy to prepare and may need fewer utensils. Hot dogs are a clear tailgate winner because they grill up in a flash and can be eaten with your hands, while breakfast burritos are a good choice for early morning tailgating. No matter what you are serving, do all the prep work the night before and set up a condiment/side station away from the high traffic action around the grill. This will help with flow.
And don’t forget the ambiance. Ask your guests to bring their own chairs but be prepared to provide some creature comforts such as music, games, decorations and additional places to sit such as a beach blanket or bench. And last but not least, remember to invite the right people. Tailgating is not for everyone. Things like weather, crowds and lack of public restrooms can throw a wrench into your otherwise perfect outing.