By: Laurie Dyer
3 years ago I became a ‘true’ tailgater. In years before, I had friends doing the tailgating work, and I showed up to enjoy and hang out. They’d share some of their fantastic BBQ, brownies, dips, and drinks, while I sat and watched them tend the grill and keep everything functioning.
A couple weeks before UTSAs inaugural game in 2011, my husband and I started brainstorming for things we thought we would need, like chairs, grill, tables, plates, plastic forks; but other than that, I didn’t really realize all the “other stuff” it would take to host a successful tailgate. So, I sent my dear college friend a message asking for advice. (She and her family have been tailgating for many years at Mississippi State, and I knew she would have many tips and tricks to help a newbie like myself.)
Grill (Such as a round Weber)
Coolers (1-3)- One for beer, water and sodas, one for meat, and one for food and condiments that need to stay chilled. Get different sizes. The number of coolers varies according to how many people you are planning for.
Orange igloo water cooler (or a few gallons of bottled water)- This is not for drinking, but for rinsing dirty hands, cutting boards, knives, pans, and When you need more than just paper towels.
Hand sanitizer– After touching raw meat. Also good for cleaning knives and kids’ hands.
Paper towels– Because those cute little dainty, team-colored napkins just don’t work.
Wet wipes– When there’s meat you eat with your hands, you’ll be thankful they’re there.
Plastic utensils– Lots of them. Get more than you think you will need, especially forks. Go to a party store or the birthday section of the grocery and get your team colors!
Plastic Solo cups
Large garbage bags– Hello, keep it clean!
Zip ties– To hold the garbage bags to your canopy or tables. (They also tend to come in handy in many unforeseen situations, like hanging flags, and to hold things down in windy conditions).
Knives Seasonings, oils– When you grill meats, you need all of this. Don’t even think about trying to use the plastic utensils to suffice.
Hot pads( or DRY towels)- The meat’s gotta go somewhere when you get it off the grill.
*Have your cooling rack set up for skillets and other steaming hot things that could melt your table.
Baggies– To keep away flies and keep food moist.
Plastic tablecloth in your school colors– It’s a lot more inviting, and it shows your school pride!
Sunscreen– Being outside for 3+ hours before the game, and possibly staying after the game to socialize will hurt your shoulders the next day.
Games– The ever-essential football, Cornhole (bags), Ladder ball, Flipcup (for the college kids only)
Now on to the cool, amped-up tailgate must-haves—
At least a 32 inch flat screen TV
Portable dish to watch Gameday and all the other football games.
Green outdoor fake grass (that’s for laughs, conversation starters, and for parking lot tailgating. Also a great to protect toddlers’ hands and knees).
Kid comforts: a portable DVD player, iPad, smaller chairs, their own personalized cups, a pillow and/or blanket
Your team logo on your canopy, chairs… well basically everything possible.
Decorations– Put your utensils in small galvanized buckets decorated to your teams’ colors. Get team-colored plastic cups, have a couple vases or pots of team-colored flowers, such as Mums, carnations or field flowers. For night games, decorate with strings of lights, or battery powered lanterns or chandeliers (yes it is done in the South, and I will have a chandelier soon).
Sounds a little overwhelming, huh? Here’s some hints. I put the foil, cutting boards, knives, seasonings, etc., in a laundry basket. It works amazingly well and fits everything perfectly. The plates, cups, utensils, paper towels etc. go in a large eco-friendly, reusable bag. The charcoal, fire extinguisher get tossed in on their own, along with the grill, chairs, canopy, etc. The kids have a bag of their own stuff. Then it’s like a game of Tetris, trying to pack it most efficiently.
Once you make your big grocery trip, you should have enough items left over to use throughout the season.
Enjoy grilling and seizing your Saturday! Go Team!!
Follow me @LaurieADyer, gridirongirl @gridirongirlorg