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Tailgating Hacks: 25 Simple Game-Changers!

Whether you’ve been showing up for your favorite team for decades, or are planning your first outing, these genius tailgating hacks will make your next game easy, fun, and one for the books.

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Before You Leave...

Pre-game Prep is Key! – Successful tailgating begins several days before the big game with shopping, packing, organizing, and coordinating with friends. Don’t leave this until the morning of.

There’s an App for That… – Not exactly the organized type? Never fear! Just download Team Tailgate. It’s a free app where you can create an event, invite friends, and create a joint check-list of what everyone needs to bring.

Check the Stadium Rules – Where can you park? Are you allowed to take up more than one space? Can you bring charcoal grills? Etc. Some places are more strict than others.

Pack Your Cooler the Right Way – Drinks on the bottom – layer of ice over that – bagged foods and food in containers over top of the ice – leave little to no room for warm air.

Mason Jars! – These sturdy glass jars aren’t just for your wife’s craft projects. They’re also great for holding cold drinks, hot chili, and everything in between. Stock up on Amazon!

Don’t Forget the First Aid Kit – Have a small first-aid kit with bandages, burn ointment, tweezers, medical tape, ibuprofen, etc. You and your friends are going to be drinking all day in a parking lot. Someone’s probably going to get hurt…

Carry Your Tailgating Tools in a Hard CaseThis affordable BBQ accessory kit includes everything you need for tailgating. A spatula, fork, knife, tongs, basting brush, meat thermometer, etc., all in a handy hard case you throw in the car and go.

Prepare the Meat the Night Before – Making burgers? Form them into patties separated by wax paper the night before. Or, put them into a sweet burger press and storage container. Marinate your steaks and skewer your kebabs too.

Setting Up

Make Yourself Easy to Find – Get a large balloon and tie it to a long string attached to your car. This helps friends find you in the parking lot.

Warming Tray on Bricks – Use bricks to prop up foil pans, and light a sterno underneath to keep grilled food warm. This is a sturdier, and more wind resistant option than the flimsy metal stands.

Magnetic Can Koozies – Need both hands free for grilling? Magnet + koozie + car = genius hack!

Keep Bugs Out Of Your Drink – Wasps seem to love beer just as much as you do. Use a large paper muffin liner and place it upside down over the top of your can. No bugs!

Use Cardboard Six Pack Containers to Store Condiments – Ketchup, mustard, hot sauce, salt, pepper, mayo. Done.

Cup Holder Hack – Use a cardboard cup holder and plastic cups to serve burger toppings like lettuce, tomato, pickles, and onions. It’s compact, easy, and (best of all) disposable.

Keep an Eye on the Time – Try to arrive at least four hours before the game, and plan to be finished eating about two hours before the game. This gives enough time for set up, grilling, and clean up.

Hand Sanitizer – An absolute must, especially if you are working with raw meat. Bonus points if it’s got a pump action lid.

Make Smart Use of the Tailgating Tent – Use bungee cords or clips to attach items to the tent like paper towels and cooking utensils. This way, they’re always within reach.

Chow Time!

Get Portable Power – Whether you’ve got an electric smoker or just want to plug in kitchen appliances like crockpots, you’ll need some sort of power solution. Check out our 3 recommended setups. Or, just buy a Jackery battery station. They’re the easiest and best way to power anything on the go.

Easy Cold Weather Food – Use insulated thermoses to bring hot soup or chili from home. A cold January game can get pretty rough, even for seasoned tailgaters. Remember, the aim is fun, not frostbite.

Extra Propane or Charcoal – You don’t want to run out in the middle of your party. Bring a small bag of extra charcoal or a small spare propane tank.

Don’t Forget Fire Starting Materials – Matches, lighter fluid, shredded newspaper, lighters – don’t forget these, or else the party’s over before it even starts.

Final Tips

Clean Up – Bring a large plastic tub for dirty dishes, trash bags, paper towels, and cleaning spray. This way, everything will be clean and contained before going back into your car, and making a mess of your interior.

Make Friends With Your Neighbors – …yes, even if they are rooting for the opposing team. You never know when you might need to rely on them for a jump start, a bottle opener, or some crucial item you left back home.

Have Fun! – Don’t let this be stressful. It’s supposed to be a party. A little planning ahead of time can help make your next tailgating expedition one for the books.

Need a Tailgating Smoker?

If you’re looking for a new tailgating smoker to take with you to your next game, check out our favorite portable smokers.

There’s something for everyone including charcoal setups and pellet grills at a range of budgets.

Best Portable Smokers

Kate Brown, the founder and voice behind Burning Brisket, is not your typical pitmaster or restaurateur. Her expertise in barbecue grew from a humble desire to cook exceptional meals for her family. From overcoming burnt brisket mishaps to establishing her boutique cattle ranch, Kate shares her passion to help 'ordinary' individuals cook extraordinary barbecue, believing that simplicity often yields the best flavors. Kate is committed to making great barbecue accessible to all with the right resources and some tasty practice.

About Burning Brisket

Burning Brisket is one of the leading, independent authorities on all things barbecue. Family-owned and run, it's our mission uncomplicate the art of smoking to help you enjoy making incredible food at home for your family and friends to create memories over.

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