For the five years I had NFL season tickets, my Sundays were like clockwork: pre-game tailgate before kickoff, football game, and post-game tailgate to avoid stadium traffic. The tickets may have burned a hole in my pocketbook, but the experience taught me how to properly party in a parking lot.
Hosting successful pre-game festivities is a football fan’s rite of passage, but it requires advance planning. Whether you’re a tailgating rookie or seasoned MVP, score a touchdown by focusing your shopping list around these game-winning plays:
Represent. Tailgating without football apparel will get you cut from the team. Head over to NFLshop.com (or campus bookstore for college fans) and get yourself some gear. National retailers like Walmart, Target, and Kohl’s also sell team apparel in their stores. Score an extra point by decking out your ride in team colors or picking up extras like eye black or temporary tattoos (available online here).
Equip. Eating potato chips in the driver’s seat does not qualify as tailgating. Provide everyone with a proper seat and utensils. Bring some sort of apparatus to cook the food, and remember that hot dogs and hamburgers taste better branded with your favorite football team’s mascot. Serve beverages (adult or not) chilled. And don’t cram everything in the bed of your pick-up truck; spread out over a logo-adorned table.
Grub. An MVP-worthy tailgate menu is both easy to prepare and consume. Your shopping list should include: any protein that you can eat with a bun, chips or crackers, fruits and veggies, and magic touches you need to complete your secret recipe. If you can grill, chop, or dip it, it’s a good bet. Pick up the NFL Game Day cookbook if you need menu ideas. Don’t forget any special team brews – like Pittsburgh’s Iron City beer.
Entertain. Food and football alone won’t earn you a spot in the host Hall of Fame. Pump up your pre-game party with homemade playlists (don’t forget the stereo), warm up with a game of catch, or host your own cornhole or ladder toss playoffs before kickoff. If all else fails, football tailgates are great places to people watch; you’ll almost always find a fan crazier about your team than you are!
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