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.
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 one of the dozens of tailgating apps to help you keep track of what you have, and what you need. Check out 7 must-have tailgating apps here.
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.
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 Case – This 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.
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.
Charcoal Disposal – A metal bucket with a locking lid can help safely snuff out glowing coals. Don’t leave this to chance in a parking lot full of cars!
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.
Use a Power Inverter – A battery pack with a power inverter allows you to plug in kitchen appliances like crockpots. This one will jump start your car too.
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.
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 full review of the best tailgating grills and smokers.
There’s something for everyone from tiny, fold up grills to tow-able kamados…