Best Tips for Playoff Tailgating

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Having the best tips for tailgating is essential to having a great tailgating event, especially during the playoffs. The playoffs are upon us and we want to have a great time tailgating. We want to cheer for our favorite team. The smell of food cooking on the grill. The smell of brats, hamburgers, hot dogs, peppers, onions and other foods all blend together to make us salivate and imagine the taste of each food is often overpowering. Today we will visit some of the art involved that is necessary to have a good tailgating experience.

Playoff Tailgating at a Glance

Tailgating during the playoffs hits the next level just as the teams on the field achieve the next level to be in the playoffs. You have made great progress with your tailgating since the beginning of the season. Now you are trying new recipes, gotten advice from other tailgaters(some that are pros) and found the groove that fits your experience, taste buds and satisfaction levels.

You have become a legend to some of your party and want to continue to learn and build upon what you have learned. The playoffs give you that opportunity to improve your flavor profile and start to shine among a large field of competitors. Tailgating is mostly for a select few but there are always those who go from one vehicle to another in search of that one who stands out above all the others. Other tailgaters have been doing this for years and some consider them legendary, but don’t be fooled they are masters at their craft and will try to dominate the field. It is up to you to prove that your tailgate is at the same level.

Know the Rules of the Stadium for Tailgating

Each stadium has its own set of rules for tailgating. You can go to the stadium website to view or download the rules for the stadium. Personally, I would download them weeks ahead of time and study them. Some say to tailgate in the grassy areas, while others say that you must stay within certain parking areas with clearly defined areas for tailgating.

There are rules on what type of beverages are allowed. There are rules on the number of people that can be at your tailgating event, even if they came in a different vehicle. The size of the vehicle is regulated at some stadiums and the length is also regulated.

At some stadiums, commercial grills are forbidden. You will also need to know whether a charcoal grill is allowed since some stadiums do not allow them.

When you go to the website looking at the rules, look for tailgating packages. This can help with what you need to bring to the stadium and may actually enhance your tailgating experience at that stadium. Tailgating packages often have the canopy(tent), tables, chairs and ice chests for rent. The canopy would already be set up and you would be able to locate it using your parking pass. If you cannot locate it, then you could ask security where that particular area is located at.

Follow the road signs. Some stadiums have their streets going in directions that you are not familiar with. You could easily get lost in an area that you are not familiar with. It may also be possible to download the layout of the parking when on the website.

What is Best Time to Start Tailgating

The best time to begin the tailgate will be determined by which stadium you are located at. Some stadiums do not let you in and start tailgating until about three hours ahead of time, others will allow parking to start five hours ahead of time. You will want to get there as early as possible in order to get setup and ready to grill. Often times, there will be something that does not go as scheduled and you will need that extra time.

If you are using a charcoal grill that extra time will be necessary to get the coals to the desired temperature. There is nothing more frustrating having to wait for the right temperature on the grill. Once you have everything setup you can begin your tailgating event with friends and family.

What Type of Food to Grill

Most tailgating events have finger foods. Something that does not take a lot of time to prepare and more can be prepared quickly and easily. Some finger foods include bratwurst, hot dogs, hamburgers, pulled pork, grilled peppers(jalapeno), onions, mushrooms, etc.

One of the best things I have found is to make a list of what is going to be cooked at the stadium and what will be prepared at home. This is where having a cooler or two comes in handy. Make a list ahead of time for what is to be in the cooler. As you prepare your items at home, keep in mind that there will be some items that will be prepared at the stadium, try to designate one cooler for these items. Designate the other cooler for the side dishes.

One of the advantages of using a cooler is that cooler packs keep food at a colder temperature longer than ice. You will want to have a separate container for ice. Some people actually will place ice in bowls with a sealed lid instead of cooler packs. This allows for the best use of materials at hand and also minimizes the number of coolers needed. If you took advantage of the tailgating package that is offered then you only have to worry about your food and do not have to worry about ice.

You will need to have plenty of drinks on hand. You can have a variety of drinks for those who prefer alcohol and for those who do not drink. Have drinks for those who are underage in a variety of flavors, even for the young kids. Just remember that the more sugar the young ones have the more active they will be until they have a sugar crash.

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How to Decorate for Tailgating

Since you are tailgating, you probably have your favorite team that you are following. You will want to decorate your tent and vehicle in team colors. This can be done easily and without a great deal of expense. You can get the face paint you need from a variety of sources without having a huge expense. However, you may find there are face-painting booths setup where you can have someone else does it for you. You can find your team balloons at a variety of shops either in your hometown or on your way to the stadium.

Decorating your vehicle is not that hard to do. You can use crepe paper or ribbon and attach it to your vehicle with a minimum of painter’s tape to secure it. Get creative and stand out from the crowd. There are sometimes events for the most creative decorations for the home team.

How to Enjoy a Good Tailgating Event

One of the best ways to enjoy your tailgating event is to have everything planned out ahead of time. This eliminates the frustration of having to put off time with family and friends because you are still setting up for the event or having to prep the food that was brought to the event.

Planning ahead of time and executing that plan is key to having the best time possible. Another thing you can do is, if there is someone who is being disruptive ask them to leave or go to another section. This allows everyone to enjoy the tailgating and to enjoy the game once you get inside.

What Type of Music is Permitted

If you have purchased a satellite system designed for being used at a tailgating event be sure that the game is covered by your device. Until game time, you can play the pregame analysis or listen to music. Whichever you do, point the device toward your tent, this will help make for a good event for you and your neighbor.

As long as the music is not vulgar or suggesting violence, it will most likely be allowed. Playing vulgar or violent music can lead to being escorted from the stadium in some cases. You are there to have a good time as well as the other patrons so it is best to be respectful of others.

ame to get in just a little more tailgating. One of the reasons for this i

After Game Tailgating

Most stadiums will allow you a couple of hours after the game to get in just a little more tailgating. One of the reasons for this is to allow traffic to clear. You will also have the opportunity to listen to the after game analysis and interviews. This could give you an advantage for the next tailgating event or the next game.

When to Cleanup and Leave

If you did not cleanup after tailgating and before you went into the game, you will have to cleanup your site before you leave. Most stadiums know who was assigned to which spot and may contact you later if they find your site was not cleaned. Remember they count on that revenue as well. The more they have to hire companies to come in and clean the less likely they are to continue to allow those who abused the system.

All stadiums have clearly marked containers for disposal of food, charcoal(if permitted), and recyclable materials. Each bin is clearly marked especially for charcoal. Disposing of your waste is important for you and for the other tailgaters. By showing respect and good manners, all can have a tremendous tailgating experience.

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Super Bowl XVI will be on February 13, 2022

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20 thoughts on “Best Tips for Playoff Tailgating”

  1. Tailgating is fun. I got started with a friend, and now I’m hooked. Thank you for sharing your experience with us. Yeah, every stadium is different. My friend lives in another city. And I was planning to do the same we did there, here in my town, but there are different rules. It makes sense to go over to the website and check these rules. Thank you!

    Reply
    • It is always best to know what the rules are. Some stadiums do not allow charcoal grills while others will allow any type of grill that you can transport in your car. There are others still that will allow commercial operators to setup and sell what they have grilled.

      It is tremendous fun to grill what you like and have  others come by to see what you are preparing and the methods you use. Sometimes they will give you tips or share recipes with you so that you can have an even better experience. Most people enjoy tasting a variety of foods that are grilled and become hooked on tailgating before a game to make their experience even better before they even get inside the stadium.

      I hope you continue to enjoy the tailgating experience. It is indeed great fun.

      Jerry

      Reply
  2. In my country, we are not really known for tailgating. Actually, I don’t think anyone in this country knows what tailgating is. It seems like a pretty interesting thing to do, especially with your friends. Soccer world cup will be this time next year. I will try do it with my friends during the world cup 

    Reply
    • You can have a lot of fun tailgating. You need to follow the rules at the stadium for being able to use a small grill for you and your friends. Reserve your spot ahead of time and have your pass where it can be readily seen by the stadium personnel, this way they know that you are approved for grilling at the stadium. Not knowing where you are from, I would recommend grilling finger foods that you are familiar with and enjoy the food with friends and then the game. You will be surprised at how many people will want to try what you are preparing to eat. Enjoy the food and friends.

      Jerry

      Reply
  3. I live in Italy and was not familiar with the terminology of tailgating at an event, but I have come across it in the States when visiting family there. It was a lot of fun for us as spectators, to go round and see what was on offer everywhere. I am sure that as a tailgater, you can make quite a bit at an event. 

    You have some great tips and ideas for anybody that wants to do tailgating, and still have fun themselves as well. Thanks for sharing

    Reply
    • It is amazing how much fun you can have at tailgating events before a game. Walking around seeing the different foods being prepared, from the very simple to the more complex. One trait they all have in common is the amount of preparation done beforehand. Seeing the various types of grills and smelling the different aromas of the different foods being prepared is enough to make a person hungry for hours after witnessing such an event.

      Coming from Italy and experiencing tailgating must have been an experience that was new to you and some of your companions. It shows how much Americans love to prepare and consume enormous amounts of food while cheering their favorite teams. The experience of tailgating is almost as important as the game itself.

      I hope that you continue to go to the various games and enjoy the tailgating experience. There may come a time where you and your companions want to try tailgating yourselves. It is an experience that will stay with you the rest of your life.

      Jerry

      Reply
  4. Looking forward to the next event for tailgating! Thanks for the advise and detail, particularly where to look up rules for specific stadiums so that everyone can have a good time! I also really appreciated the clean up reminder at the end – this is so important as thats how such a fun event can get a bad rap quickly!

    Reply
    • I have found that your tailgating experience is diminished when you are getting ready to setup and find that some of what you intended to do is not allowed at a particular stadium I have found that just by going to the stadium website and looking at the rules I can have more freedom with my tailgating. 

      Cleanup is often overlooked by the patrons because it can take away from being inside at the event. By cleaning up you are helping yourself for the next tailgating event because the stadium keeps records of who tries to keep the area clean which results in less money the stadium has to pay for a cleaning service. This also helps keep costs down.

      Happy tailgating.

      Jerry

      Reply
  5. My brother has been doing tailgating with his friends for University of Utah games for several years and I have heard a lot about some of the amazing events and creative food.  Living in Rural Utah I really don’t have a lot of opportunities to tailgate, but reading this article has gotten me interested.  I may have to make the trek next season and join him at one of the parties.

    Reply
    • Tailgating is great fun. Not only do you get to prepare your favorite foods but you also have the opportunity to see how others prepare their favorite foods. You may also exchange recipes and tips on how to improve your skills grilling. Fun is had by everyone.

      Jerry

      Reply
  6. I’m not familiar with Tailgating, but it sound like a lot of fun. The food must be so good, and you get to spend time with your friends and family. I hope to experience it someday, and may i ask Do you do it for sports other than football?
    Hope to hear from you, and Thank you for sharing. 🙂

    Reply
    • Tailgating is an experience like no other. The sights, smells and tastes come from a variety of backgrounds. I dare say that you can find foods from a large number of countries all in the same venue. People from all walks of life love to showcase their particular foods.

      Tailgating can be done for most sports, but it seems that football is the one that has the most emphasis. All  it takes is one or two people to start the tradition for each sport before it takes off. There is a great deal of community in people that tailgate. They share their recipes and love of cooking with most people. Thanks for reading and responding.

      Jerry

      Reply
  7. I’ve never been tailgating before, but it sounds like a pleasant way to spend time with fellow sports fans during sports events. And I’m glad that cleaning up after yourself is a part of that tailgating culture. I’ve attended many outdoor concerts and the amount of trash and garbage is unreal. I have a lot of family members who are huge American football fans and go to every professional game every chance they get. Thanks for the article and keep up the good work!

    Reply
    • Tailgating is great fun. Not only do you have the opportunity to spend time with family and friends but you can also make new friends as well. You will find a wide variety of foods to try that you would have never heard of before and the smells and tastes are quite intriguing as well. Thanks for reading and responding.

      Jerry

      Reply
  8. I live in the southeastern US, and tailgates here are legendary. In fact, I’ve been to some tailgate parties for some games that I didn’t even have tickets to attend! 

    This is a solid list of tips and things to remember to have a successful tailgate. Definitely make sure to plan your tailgate as a major part of game day – it’s a great time to get caught up in the spirit of your favorite team and celebrate with others who share in the excitement!

    Reply
    • Aly,

      Thanks for your comments on tailgating. It is refreshing to find someone who has been tailgating in the past. I tried to provide valuable tips on tailgating. 

      I have found that those who have been to tailgating events have enjoyed the time immensely. There are times where there are almost as many tailgaters as there are ticket holders for the game. Everyone has a good time. 

      Thanks for reading and commenting,

      Jerry

      Reply
  9. I have never had the pleasure of attending a tailgate party but I live on South Eastern State University’s Campus in an apartment.

    On the main road called of all things University BLVD, which they block off on home games for you guessed it.

    Tailgaters, I’m normally in a hurry to get back to the apartment and do not have that luxury of time to participate.

    But after reading you’re article it has struck the old party time nerve, and I might just go eat me some Broughts.

    Thank You,

    Bill Wright

    Reply
    • I am sure that you have noticed all the delicious smells coming from all the grills that are cooking. You will find that some of the tailgaters will invite you to join them. There are all types of foods grilled or prepared for the tailgating event. If you should be invited to participate enjoy yourself.

      Jerry

      Reply
  10. I honestly thought tailgating meant if you are too close behind the vehicle in front of you when driving.

    Didn’t know it was a term for flame grilling.

    Food cooked on a grill tastes much better than that of being fried in a pan or microwaved for that matter just to keep it flaming hot and ready to eat, I’ll say.

    Most of what I have seen grilled are fish, brats, hotdogs, marinated burgers, and on occasion seafood especially shrimp.

    The smell or aroma of stuff on a grill does make me salivate too, much like a pup would went it sees a dog biscuit.

    Chicken is another meat that is grilled along with pork tenderloin or ribs too.

    Which takes more time to cook, grilling or frying pan?

    ~Angel

    Reply
    • There are a great number of things that can be grilled. I agree that grilled food tastes better and if properly prepared is also healthier for you. You can also grill vegetables on the grill. One of my wife’s favorites that I grill is baked potato, that smoky flavor along with the traditional fixings on a baked potato are divine.

      The smells associated with tailgating are always found in and around football stadiums during the games. You can meet a cast of characters that you would never find anywhere else.

      Depending upon the dish, I would say that grilling takes longer to cook. If you are smoking a brisket then you are looking at hours before it is done, but well worth it.

      Jerry

      Reply

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