With over 50 million fans participating and over $12 billion spent on tailgating activities each football season, some could say the tailgate is just as important if not more so than the actual game. That’s not a stretch. It is estimated that approximately 35 percent of tailgaters will not enter a stadium to watch a football game, proving that tailgate can be as great as the game. With those statistics stacked, you won’t want to enter the next tailgate too casually. Consider these tips for becoming the MVP of this season’s tailgate.
Food & Grilling
Food and grilling are one of the most important elements of a tailgate. If you are hosting, check the wind direction. It is important set the grill up in area that will not have your guests shrouded in smoke. If you are splurging and want to impress, hire a chef for a few hours. What better way to enjoy the tailgate than having a drink in your hand and letting someone else do the work. If a chef is not in your budget, however, head over to Pinterest which has a wealth of tasty tailgating food ideas. From Bloody Mary bars to hot dog-topping buffets, the ideas are endless.
In recent years there have been plenty of fancy coolers hitting the market. My natural instinct would usually be to take the bait; but not this time. The basic role of a cooler is to keep things cold … or hot. You can turn a cooler into a warming station. Think about it – a cooler is a giant insulated tub. To convert one to a warming station, heat some bricks carefully on the grill and wrap in tin foil. Layer them in the cooler and you have a warmer. Be sure to have extra coolers for storing raw foods, drinking ice, beverages, etc. Having separate coolers will ensure you’re prepared and food is safe. Plus extra coolers make great seats as long as they’re metal or sturdy plastic and not made of styrofoam.
You’re likely going to be in a parking lot for hours. Then when it is time for the game you’ll wind up walking quite a distance. Bring an extra chair to ensure you have some place to sit. Plus when there are not enough chairs, someone is less likely to steal your seat if you brought your own.
You’re Going to Wear Those?
Speaking of standing and walking, tailgates for sporting events are a marathon so it is best to wear the most comfortable shoes you have. There are other ways to look cute so do not rely on your footwear and sacrifice comfort. Consider tossing a pair of comfy insoles into a bag just in case. Seriously.
Mark Your Turf
The parking lot is an endless sea of tailgating fans. How do you find your friends and their spot? There are technical strategies and markers if you are at a nicely laid out facility but I always love this idea. Balloons – get a unique mixture of balloons so there is an eye catching sign friends can see from a distance. There are plenty of colors, shapes and sizes. The more unusual the combination, the better.
Don’t feel the need to go buy team apparel, especially if you are visiting friends who are hosting the event or if it is not your regular team that is playing. Instead, dress like you normally would and inquire about the team colors. Any nod in the right direction is appreciated. And remember there’s a difference between home and away colors.
By Bobby Ciletti, travel and lifestyle expert and founder of TheDaysoftheChic.com. Twitter @BobbyCiletti