Fall means a lot of things: Crunchy leaves, apple picking, pumpkin spice-flavored everything and, most importantly, football. While many fans watch the game from the comfort of their couch, some choose to pack up their cars and hit the road for not only the stadium experience, but the ever-popular pre-game tailgate. Whether you’re a tailgating pro or a newbie hitting the parking lot for the first time, the perfect tailgate can be a complicated event to plan, and you have to fit all of your supplies inside one vehicle. Check out our tips and tricks below to streamline your tailgate game, and don’t miss our recommendations for some of the most tailgate-friendly vehicles on the market.
- Don’t waste daylight: The early bird gets the best spot. Pack everything except perishable food the night before the game to have a stress-free early start to the day.
- Meal prep: That’s right, meal prepping isn’t just for busy moms and health gurus. Pre-skewer and marinate your kabobs, form burger patties and freeze or refrigerate between wax paper, and slice and pack veggies for toppings and grilling.
- Chill out: Refrigerating bottled and canned beverages will extend the life of your ice, and keep your cooler chilly all day long. While you’re at it, toss half of your bottled water in the freezer. Frozen water bottles serve as extra ice packs, and will thaw over the course of your tailgate into refreshingly cold H20.
- Overdo it: You can never have too many of the essentials. Staples like garbage bags, paper and plastic dinnerware, and paper towels are the backbone of a good tailgate. Overpacking these will hardly take up any space, and they can always be rolled over into the next tailgate, but under-packing them can seriously ruin a day. Other items that you want to be sure not to miss? Bottle openers, duct tape, and permanent markers.
- Plug in: Don’t forget about power! Long days checking game scores and taking pictures can drain phone batteries, so in-car chargers are important. However, keeping devices plugged in to your parked car for too long can drain your car battery, and bored kids spending hours playing mobile games in the back seat could leave you stranded. Keep jumper cables and/or a jump box in your car to make sure you can hit the road after the game.
- DIY Handwashing Station: An empty laundry detergent dispenser (the kind with a spout) can be filled with water and set on the edge of a table to create a quick and easy way to rinse off dirty hands. Keep soap, hand sanitizer and power towels nearby for extra scrubbing power.
- Edible Dishes: Serve food in more food. Edible bowls mean easier clean up and less garbage, plus they’re tons of fun. Serve chili in bread bowls, chicken salad in hollowed out apples, and bean salad in homemade tortilla bowls.
- Quick-Start Charcoal Grill: Tired of struggling to light up your charcoal grill? Fill an empty carboard egg carton with coals and light the carton in your grill- the carton will light easily and surround your coals with heat for a faster, easier start.
Best Cars for Tailgating:
When people think about tailgate vehicles, pickups and SUVs generally come to mind. While these are definitely safe bets for a great tailgate, our sources at Bleecker Chrysler Dodge Jeep RAM, a local dealer in Dunn, North Carolina, tell us that hidden tailgating gems include minivans and mid-size hatchbacks. Here are some of the best vehicles for hitting the parking lot and throwing a great tailgate: