Tailgates are an important variable in the quintessential college equation. They provide a fun community setting where you can eat, drink, socialize and cheer on your school to victory. That’s exactly why it’s vital to make sure you have all the bases covered (wrong sport, I know). Seeing as how we’re months away from the start of college football season, you have ample time to take notes and be the MVP of your tailgate.
1. Get your group together beforehand and figure out who’s bringing what.
Tailgates, as fun as they are, can get expensive, especially when you’re a college student on a budget. It’s helpful to start a group chat to make a list of supplies and divvy out responsibilities. This can make the whole process easier and cheaper for each person, while also making sure no items are forgotten.
2. Don’t be afraid to overstock.
Arguably the most important aspect of tailgates is the food – and alcohol, of course. Don’t hesitate in overstocking meats, chips, liquor, etc. in the fear that food will go to waste. Depending on how many people you’re expecting and how long you and your friends plan on tailgating for, it’s better to have food left over than not have enough food to go around, which is a surefire way to turn the tailgate into a dud.
3. Come up with fun activities to do.
Tossing a football around and drinking games such as beer pong and flip cup are always fan favorites, however, think about stepping outside the box a bit. Perhaps create a homemade corn-hole set or pool money together for bocce ball or horseshoes. Tailgates usually go on for hours and can get a little repetitive if the only thing you’re doing is eating and drinking.
4. Keep it simple.
The beauty of tailgating is inits simplicity, so don’t worry about making a fancy table setting or culinary feast for your guests. Bring a cooler filled with your favorite assortment of beverages, and lay out everything else on a table for people to take as they please. Create a layout of buns, sides and condiments so the process is more organized. The point is to enjoy the tailgate, not stress about it.
5. Make sure to have the tunes ready.
Music seems to make most occasions more fun and tailgates are no different. Collaborate with your friends in creating a playlist full of different kinds of music. Hip-hop, classic rock, country, and house music are good places to start. Also, decent speakers are a must. You certainly don’t need a state of the art stereo system, but check to see if what you’re planning on bringing works well at high volumes.
6. Don’t limit the tailgate to people you know.
You may not love the idea of strangers venturing into your tailgate, eating your food and drinking your liquor, but it doesn’t always have to feel that way. Ask your friends if they have people to invite, who could then bring something to the party too. It’s good to mingle with others to get to know them, and it’s even easier to do so when activities are involved. Who knows? You might make a friend or two by the time the game starts.
7. Prepare for the elements.
Make sure to check the forecast beforehand to stay on top of any weather developments. No type of weather – unless serious – can really prevent you from having a good time, but you’ll want to bring a sweater if it’s chilly or perhaps rent a large tent for the grill and table if there’s precipitation. This is an easy way to make sure that the weather doesn’t dampen the mood at your tailgate.
8. Show up early.
Now, your level of investment in the game will most likely influence how early you arrive. At my school, if you wanted to tailgate, you had to show up early before all of the plots were occupied. Having the tailgate near the stadium or where others are also tailgating can be more fun than being secluded. Make sure to show up semi-early to nail down your spot.
9. Stay hydrated!
What you eat at tailgates generally isn’t considered health conscious. Heavy foods like burgers and hot dogs mixed with liquor and beer can feel fine at first, but are often followed by drowsiness, fatigue and nausea. Be sure to put bottles of water in the cooler along with the other beverages so you and your guests can stay hydrated and be ready for the game.
10. Create an exit strategy.
Cleaning up the tailgate is almost as important as preparing for it. Bring large, heavy-duty garbage bags to make clean up easy and to recycle all your bottles and plastic dishware. Be cognizant of when the game starts to give yourself at least a half hour to cool down and put away the grill. You don’t want to rush this part, as it’s very dangerous to put away a grill that hasn’t been emptied and cooled.
…And last but certainly not least, enjoy the game!
Featured image source: everydaymusingsofacollegestudent.blogspot.com
A recent graduate of The University of Arizona, Dario spends his off time writing, reading, watching movies, playing sports, scrounging for new music and hanging with his dog, Dex.