Score a Pre-Game Touchdown: Tips for a Successful Tailgate
For those who live for Football season, fall is synonymous with gamedays, dancing mascots, fierce rivalries and of course tailgating. Whether you tailgate by your car at home games or in your living room for away games, this All-American tradition is fun for all ages. If you´re planning to host a tailgate, it is ideal to have a game plan for the day so you´re not throwing last-second Hail Mary´s towards the End Zone. Creating a play book with the following tailgate essentials will have your tailgate scoring touchdowns all day long.
Long before the kickoff and even before the players take to the field to warm up, tailgaters congregate in parking lots around the stadium to eat, drink and revel in the excitement of football gameday. You should plan to arrive at the stadium at least two hours before the start of the game, though some tailgaters arrive many hours before to secure a spot. When planning your day, research the tailgating site and consider the weather and time of day when deciding what gear to bring. The following gear is first-down essentials:
- A portable grill to cook tailgate standard foods: burgers, hot dogs, kabobs, chili and more.
- Multiple coolers (with wheels and handles if your tailgating spot is not next to your car) are ideal. One cooler should be filled with ice and drinks and the other with food and ice. Make sure to wrap foods tightly to prevent leaking and cross-contamination.
- A portable, easy-open canopy to protect guests and food from the hot, glaring sun.
- Folding and portable chairs for your guests to sit on.
- One or more folding tables to set food out on.
- Remember to dress in your team´s colors to show your team spirit. A simple team jersey or sweatshirt goes a long way in building camaraderie between fellow fans.
Before gameday, you should thoroughly plan out your menu and do ahead of time prep work to minimize the prep time on gameday. It is always a good idea to start with finger foods or items that can be set out right away so your guests can munch while the starting line-up is being prepared. Since the typical tailgate food isn´t usually the healthiest, you can strategize to include healthy options. Set out a veggie platter while you´re grilling or elevate your grill by grilling fruits or veggies - pineapple, zucchini and asparagus are all great grilled. You can also change things up by adding fruit or veggie slices to kabobs or grilled Portobello mushroom slices on burgers. To avoid a food-safety penalty, the following should be observed:
- Use a meat thermometer to make sure meat has been cooked to the correct temperature.
- Hot foods should be kept hot, while cold foods need to be kept cold.
- Food should be thrown away after it has been sitting out for an hour or two. If the outside temperature is more than 90°F, food should be out for no more than an hour before being tossed.
In addition to food, grilling and drinks, tailgate games are an integral part of tailgating. From a simple game of catch with a football to the more competitive bean bag toss, the following games are fun for all ages:
- Bean Bag Toss, or Corn Hole, is a fun toss game in which players attempt to get exactly 21 points by tossing bean bags through a hole on a wooden board. A bean bag through the hole is 3 points while a bean bag that lands on the board in 1 point. Players that go over 21 points "bust"ÂÂ� and must attempt to get 21 points all over again.
- Ladderball is a game in which players hurl bolas, or 2 golf-sized balls tethered together, at a 3-step ladder and try to get exactly 21 points by wrapping the bolas around the ladder steps. The top step is worth 3 point, the middle 2 points and the lowest step is worth 1 point. As in the game of Bean Bag Toss, players who go over 21 must attempt to get 21 points all over again.
- Washer toss is a game similar to horseshoes in which players toss washers at a small cup that is inside a box. Washers that land in the cup earn the player 5 points while shots that land in the box are 1 point. This game is usually played to 21 points.