Those who have been tailgating know that there are certain tips to having a great tailgate. My family prepares for days to go tailgating and I have yet to go to a better party than one of theirs. They make sure that every aspect was covered from incorrect forecasts to what was going in each cooler. After years of being involved in this intense planning I’ve picked out a few of the most important tips.
Food safety tips were considered to be the most important in my family. It’s easy to forget during your party how long your food’s been out, which is actually quite dangerous. Keep your hot foods and your cold foods cold, nothing should be between 40 and 140 degrees for more than 4 hours. By setting a timer on your phone for just under 4 hours you can help eliminate the risk of food born illnesses. However, if you are tailgating in cold weather, below 40 degrees, then there’s no hurry because you’re already in a refrigerator. Another way to stay safe is to avoid cross contamination as best you can. One simple way to do this is to pack at least 3 coolers each one has a different purpose. The best way to plan out your coolers is to put your raw meats in one, prepared food in another, and drinks in the last one. Few people should be going into the food coolers except for those that are cooking and drinks are not considered nearly as dangerous so people can go into that one all the time.
Keeping clean goes hand in hand with food safety and makes packing up afterwards much easier. A clean site will prevent cross contamination and keep pesky insects away. My family always brings a few garbage bags with and ties them to something away from the food, like the front of the truck or a door handle. Flies, specifically, are attracted to garbage so keeping the garbage bags near the edge of the site is a great way to keep the flies away from your food. We also bring hand sanitizer, kitchen wipes and plenty of paper towels. I have yet to go tailgating at a place that has good water for cleaning so you have to be proactive about being clean. One idea is to bring 2 large stackable plastic totes with lids, one filled with clean utensils and the other empty. Then as the party progresses wipe off the dirty utensils and load them into the empty tote. This will keep clean and dirty dishes separate, so clean up is easier and fewer insects are attracted.
My parents taught me a lot about tailgating but their logic behind picking a site, and a time to arrive, was always interesting. So one thing to consider when choosing a time to leave, is where you could end up parked at without given an option. If you leave really early you could end up closer to the stadium or track but you will probably leave later. If you end up in the middle you are not terribly far from the action or from the exit. And of course if you park at the back or arrive late, you should pack up before you head to the game or race. Consider who is in your party, do you have small children or are is it all adults who will want to get home right after. Small children are much more likely to just sleep during the car rides and will be okay just being moved from bed to car and back to bed, so arriving early and leaving later may be less stressful. There are a few other things to consider when deciding when to arrive and where to park, just think about how long you want to tailgate for, how many vehicles are in your party, and when do you want to pack up. All of these things will help your party decide when to leave and where to park.
I was also taught quite a few budgeting tips but I’ll save those for another time. So I hope this helps and if you’ve got any tips of your own, please share them.