In the south, football is not just a pastime, it’s a religion. Just like any religion it comes complete with colorful pageantry, deep rooted rituals, annual pilgrimages and, in the final minutes of a close game, plenty of praying! Anyone who’s trekked to the annual Georgia Florida game knows what I’m talking about. But no matter what team you are cheering for we, can all agree that the best part of this pastime is tailgating. Here are the “10 Commandments” of good tailgating and a couple of recipes that you’ll want to add to you pre-game ritual.
Thou Shall Arrive Early- History has proven that it ALWAYS takes longer to get to the game than you think it will. I can’t tell you how many of my early tailgating parties were spent stressed out in gridlock trying to get to a parking space! As a good rule of thumb it’s best to arrive 4 hours early and prepare to eat 2 hours before the game
Then there was Fire….And it was good- Is it me, or does the grill just make a tailgate? The grill harkens back to our tribal instincts…. All dressed up in our colors, sitting around a fire, and getting ready for battle! The key to a good grilling tailgate is to prep early. Pre make patties of hamburgers and store them with a sheet of wax paper between rows in plastic container. Pre cut the “fixins’ like lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and cheese. If your tailgate is a little more high-falutin, think about marinating steak and chicken skewers the night before. Since the fire’s hot, why not grill some crowd pleasing sides too like Mexican corn or Cajun vegetable. Get recipes here.
Thou shall stock a cooler for everyone- Just like any watering hole, good times just seem to be centered around the cooler. Try to have something for everyone in your crew AND for those long lost friends that will inevitably stop by! The college roommate that always ate the last cookie and left the bag will be the first friend to stop by your tailgate looking for a beer! Try to think of the kids too and have plenty of water. Now, a well packed cooler is a science and here are some tips and a helpful diagram- Start with a clean cooler. Put bottles and cans on the bottom and cover with a layer of ice. Pack foods in individual contains and cover with ice. Any loose bags go on top. Pack the cooler full so no warm air gets in. With your well packed cooler, you have enough room for drinks to make everyone happy.
Thou shall honor the team colors- Oh yes, this is the glue that holds your entire tailgate together! No matter what goofy side dish your mother in law brought, if it’s placed on a platter of your favorite team’s color or logo, you can bet the folks will dig in. There are some really fun ways to sport your team colors that will have everyone cheering. Download one of these FREE college football printables! They are super cute, and come complete with invitations, banners, cupcake wrappers & toppers. And did I tell you they were FREE?? Top your table off with Jello Shots and a cake in the exact color of your team. Download icing formulas here so your UGA red doesn’t come out a crimson tide Don’t have the creative itch? Not to worry- pick up an inexpensive team party pack. You’ll find everything you need from your car magnet to team tumblers here and they can be shipped to your door before game time!
Thou shall mark your territory- Make it easy for friends to find you by attaching a unique flag or large balloon to your car or tent. This will make your tailgate stand out in the sea of team colored tents !
Thou Shall expect the unexpected- Whatever can happen will. Wouldn’t hurt to throw a couple of ponchos and umbrellas in the car along with a first aid kit and some extra ice
Thou shall be entertained- Bring yard games like corn hole and ladder toss! This is a great way to keep kids large and small happy. Of course don’t forget the TV so you can watch all the pre-game action. Here’s a list of dozens of fun games- many don’t even need equipment
Thou shall be courteous and makefriends- A friend of my team is a friend indeed! Nothing better than bonding over your team and sharing fond memories! Be considerate of your neighbors….Who knows, you might need to borrow a cup of ice before the party’s over.
Thou shall be clean- Consider packing medium plastic bins with all the plates utensils and food. It’s an easy way to keep organize and tidy. Bring lots of garbage bags too. One quick clean up idea is to turn a case of beer into a cooler- Remove the beer from the box. Place a large garbage bag inside the box fill with bottles of beer and cover with ice. Once the beer is gone, toss the box in the garbage. Done!
Thou shall Stay late- Ifyou did your tailgate right, you won’t want the party to end. Whether you are celebrating a team win or mourning heartbreaking loss, why not keep the party going and wait for the crowds to leave. If you packed enough ice there’s no reason for the party to be over. And hey, that’s more time to practice #8, make new friends!