Fans it is about that time again. College and professional football teams around the nation will soon be hitting the practice field as they prepare to battle on the gridiron once again. As fans of these teams we have a solemn duty which we must uphold. We must cheer for our team, regardless of who they play or how bad they stink. We must brag about them as if they really are the best team in the nation. We must make sure that any and every one we come into contact with is aware that our team rocks and theirs sucks. Most importantly, we must tailgate.
Step One: The Goods
Many things can be overlooked in a tailgate party, but if you run out of food or beer then your name will be Mud for the rest of the season. It does not have to cost you a fortune; just be sure and stock up on the basics. Chips are a must, generic are fine. You have to have something of substance, i.e. chili, burgers, hotdogs, brats, etc. People need food that is easy to eat and does not require a table and chairs. If you are really on a tight budget then make sure you at least have more than enough of the most important part of the tailgating experience — beer.
Having the goods is only part of the battle. You have to be able to cook and/or present them. Be sure and pack your grill or whatever you need to cook or heat up the food. A table to set everything (food, napkins, paper towels, utensils) on is important too; people will be sitting on your tailgate after all. Ice your beer long before you leave the house on game day. Nothing sucks more than biting into a nice hot, brat only to wash it down with an even hotter beer.
Step Three: The Details
The key is always in the details. This is the stuff that can get folks to hang around your tailgate party. If you have extra chairs throw them in the back of your vehicle. If you have a radio or portable television bring them too. Music is always good and everyone enjoys watching the pre-game show when drinking and doing manly things. Any party games you have would be good to, i.e. corn hole, a football, Frisbee, etc.
Step Four: Look the Part
Your tailgate party needs to look inviting. The best way to accomplish this is by making sure that folks know that you are not just a fan, but the ultimate fan. You have to be dressed in team apparel: t-shirt or sweatshirt at an absolute minimum. Face painting is always a plus; it shows a little more dedication than just getting dressed. Decorate your area as best you can too. The inflatable chairs are always nice, flags are easy to come by as well.
Step Five: Timing
Get to the game early. You want plenty of time to set up, get your food heated up or cooked, and enjoy a few beers — not to mention you want to be able to set up without too many people milling about. Plus you want to have ample time to make your space look like you live there; the homier the atmosphere the more likely people will want to hang out.
There are other rules that can be thrown in to highlight the tailgating experience, but the five mentioned above are the essentials to doing it right. So read, them love them, live them, and know them well; the success of your football season depends on it.