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Tailgating Tips: 5 Easy Steps to Pre-Game Prep

Are You Ready for Some Football? Tailgating is a perfect time to invite some friends to join the pre-game excitement. So, how do you prep and pack to make sure you have a successful tailgate party? Here are my top five tailgating tips on how to organize in advance so you can maximize on the fun when you arrive!

1. Prep and Organization are the Keys!

Save Time for More Fun: Space is tight when you set up for a tailgate so organization before you get there will save a ton of time and allow you to spend more time having fun versus fishing through boxes and bags looking for the things you need.

Tailgating Tip: Use a plastic 4-drawer cart to keep all of your tailgating necessities organized and easily accessible, plus you won’t have to unpack anything at the game or at home, you simply take the cart out of the car and voila! Once you are home, simply take the cart back out of the car to store it in the garage or a closet and it’s prepped and ready to go for the next time!

So what should you put in it? Here is a list of items to keep organized and on hand:

Top Drawer
bottle openers
can opener
mini flashlight

Second Drawer
wooden skewers
basting brush
spices and seasonings

Third Drawer
paper towels
wet wipes
hand sanitizer

Bottom Drawer
plastic zip bags
plastic wrap
aluminum foil
trash bags
Masking tape

Tailgating Tip: Pack an empty plastic bin so you can pack up all of the dirty dishes and tools that need to be washed when you get back home. That will keep these items separate and protect your car from getting dirty.

2. Game On! Don’t forget some themed games to play during the pre-game party like these amazing cornhole boards or giant tumble tower from  They are made in the USA and ship nationally so you can celebrate your favorite collegiate and professional teams anywhere!

UCF Cornhole Set – $199

UCF Giant Tumble Tower – $150

3. Food and Beverage – Prep in Advance

Tailgating Tip: Prep as much food in advance as you can so you have more time to enjoy with your tailgating group once you arrive. Here are some great prep suggestions you can do the night before:

Burgers – prep in disposable aluminum foil pans and lay the burgers on sheets of waxed paper so all you have to do is take them out and pop them on the grill!

Shish-kebobs – skewer your kebobs the night before and place them in a disposable aluminum foil pan, add marinade and refrigerate. They’ll be ready to throw on the grill as soon as you arrive and the grill is hot.

“Grab and Go Mingles” – Since workspace space is tight at a tailgate, I like prepping portioned snacks for guests the night before. This eliminates not only everyone waiting to get to the table of goodies but also the juggling act of trying to balance a plate and drink while trying to add food to your dish. I call them “Grab and Go Mingles” so guests can do exactly that… Buzz by the table grab their portioned snack and go straight to mingling! Here are a few great ideas for “Grab and Go Mingles”

Mini-Bags of Chips – Buy a large variety pack of individual bags of chips for your tailgate table. This will keep them fresh, offer your guests a variety of options and best part, you can pack up what isn’t eaten and take them home. Pile them into a basket or container on your table and you’re ready to go!

Dips – Fill individual condiment containers with a couple of your favorite dips, snap the tops on and then set them on ice when you arrive. Guests can grab a bag of chips, pick their favorite dip and not have to juggle spooning items on to their plates! They love it!

Mini- Megaphone in Team Colors of Popcorn or Chex Mix – Plug the hole at the bottom with a ball of aluminum foil and then package the portion in a ziplock bag the night before. Once you arrive simply pour and set it out. Guests get a great snack and a fun prop to take to the game!

4. Drinks

Alcoholic Beverages – Plan ahead! Make a specialty drink in batches in like a Spiked Lemonade. Buy a few gallons of drinking water from the grocery store, mix right in the gallon container and pop them in the refrigerator the night before. Pack and Pour over ice in a pitcher or beverage dispenser when you arrive and voila the bar is immediately open!

Total: 10 min | Prep: 5 min | Cook: 5 min |Yield: 14 to 16 servings |Level: Easy


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup water, plus 8 cups (16 cups of water in a gallon jug)
  • 4 lemons, juiced
  • Vodka
  • Ice cubes


In a saucepan, combine the sugar and 1/3 cup water and place over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, then cook the sugar until dissolved but the syrup is still clear. Do not cook the sugar until it starts to turn color. Remove from heat and cool.

In a pitcher, combine the syrup, 8 cups water, the lemon juice, vodka and ice and stir to combine. Pour into tall glasses and enjoy

*Recipe courtesy of Tyler Florence and Food Network

*Tailgate Tips: Flip cupcake holders upside down over your drinks to keep the bugs out and Drinks will chill quicker in the cooler if you also add some water to the ice.

Tailgating Tip: Freeze water bottles the night before and use them as a source to keep your food cool on the way to the game. As you are enjoying your pre-game time, the waters will start to melt and you’ll have cold water to drink. It’s a double-duty tip to maximize space and mulit-use items!

5. Set-up
Table Cover:

Plan your table in team colors! Run to the dollar store for some vinyl tablecloths in your team colors to set a festive foundation for your food. These inexpensive table coverings will also serve as easy clean up. Simply, roll up and throw away after you are done using them.

If you want to embrace the spirit of bringing the football field to the parking lot, use a new outdoor textured grass rug as a table cover for your table. You can purchase a 6’ x 8’ rug at a Home Improvement store like Lowes for just $18. And, in the perspective of re-purposing and re-using items if you buy them, save it and then you can re-use it to set a Spring Celebration or Easter table in the new year!

Go Team!!

Photo Sources: Southern Living Magazine and BuzzFeed



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