41 Tailgating Tips That Are Borderline Genius

This is not about a grill and a cooler of beer: Tailgating is a lifestyle.

Plan to arrive four hours before the game starts. Then eat two hours before the game so you have plenty of time to set up and clean up.

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1. Always keep a toolbox packed with tailgate essentials in the trunk of your car.

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main compartment
bottle openers
can opener
wooden skewers
basting brush
mini flashlight

middle comparment
trash bags
paper towels
wet wipes
hand sanitizer
plastic zip bages
Masking tape

bottom drawer
your favorite condiments, spices and seasonings.

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2. Learn the rules of packing a cooler.

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3. Skewer and marinate kebabs the night before.

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4. Shape and pack up burger patties between sheets of wax paper the night before, too.

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5. Slice and pack up burger toppings in advance like this.

More great tips here.

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6. Label your coolers so guests can find drinks easily.

You do not want them constantly opening your meat cooler looking for beer.

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7. Freeze water bottles to use in place of ice in coolers so you have cold water to drink after they melt.

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8. Fill a six pack holder with your favorite hot sauces and other condiments.

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9. Pack a mini first-aid kit into an old prescription bottle or Altoids tin.

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10. Pack extra set of the essentials.

Bring extra charcoal or an extra 1-lb tank of LP gas. You need two tongs (one for raw meat, one for everything else). Be sure one entire cooler is full of ice for drinks.

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11. Bring a large plastic tub to haul back dirty dishes.


Bring items in a large plastic tub. When you are ready to pack up, line the tub with a garbage bag and then put your dirty dishes inside.

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12. Pack jumper cables.

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13. Bring a metal bucket for still-glowing coals and make sure your grill is extinguished properly.


It should be cool to the touch. Store your LP tank in the car in a secure and upright position. Get tips for dealing with flare ups here.

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14. Turn a cooler into a warming oven using foil and hot bricks.


Directions here.

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15. Float a big helium balloon on a long string from your car, so friends can find you.

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16. Consider wind direction when you position your grill.

If it’s a very windy day and you have a charcoal grill, be sure you bring a little extra charcoal because the wind can make it burn faster. Point the front leg of the kettle grill into the wind to minimize wind coming into the bottom vents. If you have a gas grill, turn the grill perpendicular to where the wind is coming from to minimize its effect on your food. Get more great windy-day grilling tips here.

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17. Use an empty laundry detergent dispenser as a hand-washing station.

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18. Hang a paper towel roll using a bungee cord from the tent struts.

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19. Bring a pre-packed set of drawers so everything is handy and organized while you’re cooking.

Designate and label drawers: One for napkins, plates and utensils; one for koozies and bottle openers and cups; one for SPF and insect repellant, etc.

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20. Turn a case of beer into a toss-away drink cooler.

In lieu of a cooler, get a case of your favorite drinks, empty it and line it with two garbage bags (so it doesn’t leak), then put the drinks back in and add ice. Afterwards, put the whole thing in the trash. I always double the bag so I don’t have any leaks.”

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21. Convert the back of your car into a fully-stocked bar with a set of shelves.

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22. Set up a Bloody Mary bar.

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23. Cook breakfast burritos on your grill using a skillet.

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Your setup would look like this.

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24. Serve breakfast you can eat with your hands, like sausage and bacon wrapped in pancakes.

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25. Set up a frito pie station.


“Plug it in before you go to bed the night before”

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26. Repurpose a drink holder as a crudite plate.

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27. Set up a DIY toppings bar so people can customize their hot dogs.

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28. Serve chili in bread bowls instead of using paper plates.

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29. For colder months, bring a variety of soups in thermoses and tin mugs.

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30. Pack portable jello shots in your team colors.

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31. Serve a specialty drink in your school’s color with a matching “anti-insect” cupcake liner lid.

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32. Ice a cake in your team’s color with this guide to team color icing formulas.

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33. DIY a football field tablecloth.

This blogger turned a $4 green chenille kitchen rug from Target into a “field” by lining it with plastic electricians tape and numbers from the mailbox section of Walmart.

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35. Bring extra fun accessories for friends.

Temporary tattoos, beaded necklaces, bandanas, etc.

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36. Class it up with a few special touches:

The cupcake stand, paper towel holder, and chalkboard make this look especially nice.

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37. Build a tailgate beer pong table.

Directions here.

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38. Decorate the cooler!

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39. And take it on the road.

Scooter coolers exist.

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40. Take every opportunity to remind guests and neighbors that your team is going to win.

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41. In a case of emergency, learn to open a bottle of beer with your car door.

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Most importantly: Make nice, introduce yourself to your neighbors.

Good form.

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RELAX and have fun.

Serve up burgers or another fun meal AFTER the game to help keep the party going and avoid sitting in traffic.

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