You already take your tailgating seriously. It’s not like you’re someone who would show up on game day with a bag of chips and a six pack of beer and think you’re prepared. But there is a difference between holding a good tailgate that has the basics covered and hosting the tailgate people are still talking about after the game.
All great tailgates excel in three main areas: food, drinks and setup. Check out these six tips for taking all aspects of your party to the next level — and get ready for a winning tailgate season.
A great tailgate takes typical game day food and turns it up a few notches. You don’t need a five-star tasting menu. Nope, just add some flair to the normal hamburger and chip-dip selection.
1. Make Your Food Portable.
Your tailgate guests don’t want to be stuck hovering over the food table, so set them free by making most of your food easy to hold with one hand. Think wax paper sleeves for your burgers (in team colors, of course) as well as kettle corn and other snacks already packaged in mini-brown paper bags. Oh, and don’t forget a cupcake tier of bite-sized desserts.
2. Pick Out a Themed Recipe.
Make one item on your spread themed to your team. Are you a Bills fan? Then you’ll need some Buffalo chicken bites. Baltimore Ravens tailgaters will love your Edgar Allen Poe-boy sliders. The more creative, the better.
Like your food, you don’t need to have a fully stocked bar to throw a great party (although we’re not stopping you). In addition to a variety of beer, wine, water and soda on ice, offer at least one fun drink option to help your tailgate stand out.
3. Create a Bloody Mary Bar.
For early morning tailgates, a decked out Bloody Mary bar can serve as both drink and food. Load mason jars with pickled vegetables, cheese cubes, bacon, olives and lemon wedges, and let your guests make their own skewers. Provide pitchers of your favorite Bloody Marys (spicy and non-spicy), along with celery salt-rimmed glasses.
4. Strongly Consider Ice Pops.
Frozen drinks become essential for proper hydration and enjoyment, especially for those early season games. The night before the game, add sangria, screwdriver or cosmo mix into Popsicle molds and break out your boozy treats when the sun starts beating down the next day. Just be sure not to go too heavy on the alcohol or your ice pops will be too slushy to freeze.
Any seasoned tailgater will tell you that people will stay for your food and drinks, but they’re initially attracted to the party you’ve set up. In addition to ample seating, a few party games and shade, invest in one big thing that will make your setup stand above the rest.
5. Go Big on Your Ride.
The bigger you can go, the better. What other kind of party gives you an excuse to trick out your vehicle? If you have a truck, bump up your tire size and outfit your rims. If you have an RV, get that custom team paint job you have always been dreaming about.
6. Throw in Some Tech.
Bring a mobile Wi-Fi hub and a few external batteries to use as mobile charging stations and your guests will hail you as a genius (particularly when it’s time to go to the game and their phone has 5 percent battery life).