So you’re planning your first tailgate… seems easy enough. Just toss some burgers in the car and go, right? WRONG! Tailgating is serious business. Now, if you’re a first-timer, you’ll need to prepare as if you’re pulling a heist on the Bellagio. And believe me, the line between success and fiasco is thinner then you’d think.
Luckily, we’ve got 10 tips to help make sure your first tailgate is the beginning of your hall of fame parking lot career. Just follow these basics, and you can’t go wrong:
10. Get There Early.
Not only will you beat the crowds and find a premium space, but you might even get to shotgun a beer with Sebastian Janikowski before kickoff.
9. Have a Plan. Fly a Flag.
Your cellphone coverage will be pretty much zilch, so have a plan on how and where to meet your friends. A great way to go about this is to fly an easily recognizable flag. The more it stands out, the better. For instance, a University of Michigan flag would work, but only if you like having batteries thrown at you.
Get cool gear for your tailgate.
8. Bring Plenty of Non-Alcoholic Beverages.
I know, I know, but hear me out: you’ll need something for your designated driver (8A. Bring a Designated Driver), but you’ll also need delicious electrolytes after the game.
7. Introduce Yourself to Your Neighbors.
This isn’t like real life, where all your neighbors are horrible people. These guys are alright, and probably willing to share some food or toss a football around.
6. Know the Rules and Regulations of the Parking Lot.
Especially in Oakland, where the “63,132 people enter, 1 person leaves” rule has been in effect since the early 70s.
Photo Credit: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
5. Be Nice!
Yes, yes. I’m well aware that certain Big 10 schools make this one hard to follow. But, golden rule and all that. After all, you’re representing your team.
4. Bring Jumper Cables.
Not for yourself. Thanks to Murphy’s Law, the second you need them, you won’t have them. But, at least you can cover for the poor schlub next to you.
Check out the best tailgating beers.
3. Tailgate after the Game.
This is an important one: you can — and should — continue drinking and eating after the game. How else would you stave off the shakes?
2. Know Everyone’s Age.
Especially for college tailgates, make sure you’re not handing out any ice cold ticket-able offenses to anyone questionable. Good rule of thumb: if he knows his credit score, you can probably give him a beer.
1. Keep it Simple.
This is especially true for your first tailgate. Every team has a few tailgating legends who have served as chieftains of the parking lot for decades. So go meet them! Host a smaller affair with some drinks and some appetizers or dips, and then go shake hands with the legends.
So there you have it. Now go forth, armed with the knowledge of your tailgating forefathers, and skate that line between “party animal” and “public disgrace.” I will always be proud of you.
Find some tasty recipes for your tailgate.
Check out more Tailgating Top 10s.
Brian Cullen has been told he has attended tailgates before. You can follow his daily rants on Twitter @Bucketcullen.
This list was compiled with the assistance of tailgating guru Jamin Hemenway, whose adventures are available for everyone to see at Pigskin Pursuit.