Let’s face it, the competition doesn’t end with the game. Anytime you involve an art-form like tailgating, there’s always going to be a little friendly competition. Everyone has to start somewhere, and we don’t want our tailgaters looking like rookies. This is our guide to the ultimate tailgater’s toolkit to help make sure your tailgate party is a success and garner a little respect from your fellow tailgaters in the process.
You have an emergency preparedness kit you keep in your hall closet and the trunk of your car, per FEMA recommendations, *cough *clear throat, right? Well, you also need to have your tailgater toolkit at the ready. These essentials are packed in my bucket for tailgating season and make life remarkably easy.
Starting Your Tailgate Party Toolkit
Let’s begin with the basics the rookie on the team inevitably forgets to pack for the tailgate party – dining ware. There’s nothing more embarrassing than having to walk around asking whether anyone has a few plates to share. So, just get these items in your Go-Bag first and foremost: paper plates, napkins, compostable utensils and cups, and trash bags. And, if you are grilling, remember your tongs, spatula, carving knife, and cutting board. If you’re saving unused utensils for next time, bring a wide-mouthed water bottle to put them in so they don’t end up spilling.
Prepare now for the cleanup
Tupperware and Ziploc bags for leftovers and condiments. If the Tupperware takes up too much space, keep it to Ziplocs. Even if you don’t plan on bringing leftovers home with you, pack the Ziplocs. They’re great for a million other uses. Put your open condiments, dirty towels, and wet clothes (you never know what could happen at an epic tailgate party!) to keep your tailgate toolkit clean on the way home.
Aluminum foil – also a staple for countless reasons. Use it to wrap warm leftovers the Ziploc can’t handle. Create a small tray and cook your bacon on the grill without the eyebrow-searing flames from cooking your bacon directly on the grill. Cover your knife blades and avoid having to call the paramedics before your tailgate ever gets started because someone cut themselves while unpacking. And wrap your dirty, non-disposable utensils, so you don’t get oil and food particles everywhere when packing your toolkit at the end of the day.
The Drinks! (the fun part, right?)
Bloody Mary Spice Mix is a classic among true tailgate party gatherings. But keep it simple. Create your mix ahead of time so you don’t risk forgetting a key ingredient, plus you’ll save room with one bottle versus several. If you don’t have a favorite recipe, check-out Demitri’s Bloody Mary Mix, it is pretty awesome. Don’t forget your pre-cut veggies!
The one item that is the most often forgotten is Bottle Openers! You need to open beer and wine, so make sure it will work for both. Heck, pack an extra, just to be safe. Even if you don’t need it, chances are someone else will be in need and you’ll be that tailgate party neighbor who saved the day.
Channel Your Inner Grillmaster
Speaking of saving the day, bring a lighter. You’ll use it for the grill, and if you aren’t having that kind of tailgate, you’re sure to save someone’s day with this staple. Don’t forget your other fire-making materials: charcoal or propane. If we don’t have the ability to make fire, what else do we have to set us aside from the animal kingdom, except thumbs? And monkeys have thumbs. Be the tailgater with the fire.
Final thoughts on the Tailgate Party Toolkit
Disinfecting wipes are a must because tailgating is basically a fancy, raucous picnic. It gets messy. And it’s not like you have running water to clean things up. Do you plan on having BBQ sauce or condiments? Cooking raw chicken? Taking a trip to the porta-potty? Sanitation is just good sense at any tailgate party.
And, because cancer kills, throw a bottle of sunscreen in there.
You’re all set! Your ultimate tailgater’s toolkit is packed and ready to go, securing your game day position at the top of the ranks. It doesn’t matter if you are throwing a USC tailgate or a Michigan tailgate, be the pro and let the fire-seeking monkeys seek lighters to borrow, not the other way around.
Is there anything we forgot to mention for your tailgate party toolkit? Are there any must items you keep in yours? Be sure to also check out our Commonly Forgotten Tailgate Items: Checklist or are Tailgate Checklist for a more comprehensive list of tailgate gear you need each game day.
Let us know in the comments below!