Best Damn Tailgating Guide
Crisp evenings, leaves changing color, brisk bite to the air. These are all signs of Fall that frankly, we don’t get here in Austin. What do we have? Football. Football, the greatest of human endeavours and harbinger of autumnal weather, is how we know that seasons are changing in other parts of the country. And what we lack in other fall areas, we more than make up for with what we do have as no one does football like Texas. And what goes better with football than tailgating?
With tailgating near and dear to our hearts, we reached out to friends and family to find out what they felt were the most important parts of creating the perfect tailgate party. The result: The Best Damn Tailgating Guide.
A theme for your tailgating party may seem unnecessary but it makes the rest of the planning easier. Your event appears cohesive and gives the impression that you spent weeks planning it.
Most tailgates have pretty self explanatory themes. You want to go all out for your team and drench everything in the colors that matter. So if your'e a University of Texas fan then burnt orange and white would work here. To truly make your tailgate a masterpiece, go one step further and ask yourself what type of party you want to have. Are you more a "quick-grilling, hotdog-eating, beer-in-a-can out of the cooler" type of tailgater? Or are you a "crock-pot bringing, themed cocktail making" type of tailgater? Knowing this allows you to put together food, drinks and all the essentials.
(But of course, don't forget the team colors!)
Mmm, hot dogs.
It should surprise no one that food is high on the list of important needs at a tailgate. Some might say it is the most important thing and they wouldn't be wrong. Good food makes any social event and this is no exception. Keeping your theme in mind, put together a few sure-fire food options that will appeal to everyone.
Know how much time and effort you'll have to spend during the tailgate. Don't feel like spending a lot of time cooking while you're there? No problem! Crock-pots are a god send and its easy to put together some quick dishes before hand that will travel well.
If you decide nothing beats the fresh, smokey taste of meats off the grill (and we can't blame you!) make sure where you're going allows for grilling. Also keep track of everything you need to not just start the grill, but also put it out safely.
Still not sure what you should do? Too many options to choose from? No problem, we can help you out. Here are a couple sure-fire options for your tailgate:
- Queso. You can never go wrong with cheese or chip dip and queso is really the best combination of them all (even better, it can easily be scaled up to feed a huge group of people). You can go with the quick and easy Velveeta + Rotel if you're looking to save time and still have something good to dip your chips into. But if you're looking to make something with a bit more quick, there are a lot of queso recipes out there (trust us, we tried a lot of them!) but our favorite has to be this spicy queso from A Spicy Perspective. Yeah the recipe does call for a lot of ingredients but trust us, it's so worth it.
- Hot dogs. If you have access to a grill at your tailgate you can be overwhelmed with all the things that you could put together. Personally, we think the best option is hot dogs. They're easy to cook and tasty as hell and, bonus! There are so many options for toppings that you can make a whole stack of them to eat and each one will be different! If you're really looking to go all out though, we suggest making some chili and letting your guests make some coney's to enjoy with the game (If you want a chili recipe, check out Sweet Pea"s Kitchen, just don't forget the mustard and onions!)
- Dessert. Ask most kids what the best thing to eat at dinner is and they're gonna tell you dessert. Heck, ask most people and they'll say the same thing (and we're eyeing the people who say otherwise, because really. Dessert.). Dessert is awesome and you definitely need it at your next tailgate, but what to have? You could pick up something from the store or make some cupcakes and both options will totally be tasty but if you want something really awesome? We say go with homemade whoopie pies. Nothing tastes as perfect when watching a game and reminds us so much of our childhood as kick ass whoopie pies (shout out to Lil Debbie, she was great). The Cake Blog has a great, easy recipe for whoopie pies and bonus! They look like footballs.
Are you having an all ages event? Or is your tailgating party more a kick-off kegger? Either way, you need to have some kick-ass drinks available for your event. Whether you make your own beer punch (we really like like this one) or toss a couple local brews into the cooler, you should have enough to keep everyone properly hydrated.
If you do have a kid-friendly kick-off going on, make sure to keep coolers or drink dispensers separated and easily marked. When the event gets underway, much easier to ensure that what the kids are drinking is actually Kool-Aid. And if you really want to kick it up a notch, you can always go for a sweet bar-in-truck set up.
While it seems obvious, make sure you have all cooking and cleaning supplies handy as you're cooking. Inventive tailgaters have come up with a variety of different methods for keeping everything handy and nearby. No one wants to grab a hot dog and some potato salad and not be able to find a napkin or a fork to eat!
There are a bunch of ideas for keeping your utensils from being lost from the quick and easy to the elaborately pinterest-y (that counts as an adjective right?) depending on your theme and how much effort you want to put into it. Whichever way you go, make sure you have everything before you set out for the stadium!
MusicProper tune-age is essential. You can go the homemade mixtape route like your inner 90's kid totally wants you to do (admit it) or you can check out iTunes Music or Spotify Playlists and check out the pre-made selection if you're in need of some music quickly.
Tent & Chairs
While we don't get too many rainy days here in Austin (gotta love that perpetual sunshine!), tents are an essential part of your tailgating gear no matter where you're setting up (we're sure many of our fans in the less sunny parts of the country would agree). Doesn't matter if it is hot Texas sun, pouring rain or, god forbid, freezing snow, a tent will save your tailgate from ending before the kick off.
Also, be sure you have more options for seating than people you expect to be there. Without a doubt, Jimmy is gonna show up and even though he said he was coming by himself, you know he's going to end up bringing that girl he just started dating (or who knows, you may make friends while you're there!) Either way, extra seating ensures that no one is going to have to have the sad seat in the dirt.
There was a time when tailgating was mainly done just as a precursor to a football game. You would go early, wait with your friends and family for the stadium to open and then head on in to watch the game. Nowadays, the parking lot is the end destination for many people heading towards the football stadium. If you're one of the many heading out to grill and drink and watch the game from the outsides of the stadium, well don't forget to take your TV.
If you're really ambitious, throw in a second TV so you'll be able to keep track of all the games going on.
Of course there is nothing more necessary to a tailgate than having good friends with you. Make sure To get as many people together as you can as tailgating really benefits from the more the merrier proviso.
Provided they're cheering for the right team of course.
So have fun! Go crazy! Make the most kick-ass tailgating event you've ever done! Check out our Pinterest board for more tips and tricks on food, drinks and everything in between. And remember when it comes to tailgating and your team, you can never go too far or do too much.