Tips for Your Next Tailgate Party


Tailgate parties are a popular way to celebrate your favorite team. People gather around the back of a vehicle -- usually a pick-up with that namesake tailgate -- and cook some food and play some games.

When planning a tailgate party, Extension educators say people should plan to have a large enough vehicle to bring everything -- not only will food items be needed, but also things like lawn chairs, a portable grill and maybe a few games.

Decide how many people are coming and ask everyone to bring food and other items to the party. This makes the planner's job easier and allows everyone to feel like part of the party.

When selecting food items for people to bring remember to select foods that are either ready-to-eat or take only a short time to cook. Examples include:

Steaks, hot dogs, hamburgers, brats, sausages, kebabs or quesadillas. Chili or meat fillings for tacos or burritos that can be reheated at the party. Pre-made items such as sandwiches, dips and chips, trail mixes or nachos. Salads like potato, coleslaw, broccoli raisin or fresh fruit salads. Goodies, such as brownies, cookies or cupcakes. Plenty of beverages – cold drinks when it is hot, such as water, juice, ice tea, lemonade or soda; and hot drinks when it is cold, such as coffee, hot tea, spiced cider or hot chocolate. When packing the food be sure to keep meat items in one cooler and other food in a different cooler. This will decrease the possibility of raw meat juices getting on ready-to-eat foods. And Extension educators warn, all perishable items need to be kept cold at all times so pack plenty of ice or ice packs.

When grilling, get to the parking lot early to set up. Start the charcoal so when people arrive, they can begin using the grill immediately.

Plastic totes are a great way to organize paper goods and miscellaneous items such as, napkins, paper plates, plastic silverware, paper towels, plastic cups, garbage bags, bottle openers, and leftover containers.

At the end of the party don't forget to clean up. Use plastic garbage bags for trash and repack food in coolers or discard if there isn't enough ice to keep it at a safe temperature.