June 22, 2012

Tailgating 101: The Plan (Part 1)

I approach tailgating like I approach any party – it’s important to have a plan and to execute it well. If you’re happy to grab a cooler, ice and beer and call it “showtime”, then this post may not appeal to you. For the rest of us, who delight in the tailgate planning and preparation, I present to you my tailgating plan in 3 steps. I hope you  find the information useful. Over the next few weeks, I will present to the SG readers, my guide for a fun and organized tailgate.
The first part of our series is the planning phase. Football season is still a few months away, but the schedules are out, so the planning starts now! One way to get organized is to select a theme for each game. Themes can be general or they can be based on the opponent. For example, the Dallas Cowboys first home game is against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. So I would suggest a geographic theme like seafood. A theme is the easiest way to design your menus and assign dishes to other tailgaters. I would serve a crab dip as well as shrimp and scallop kabobs for a seafood themed tailgate.
My tailgate has themes for each home game picked out in advance – one game we serve a variety of different types of chili, another game we serve kabobs, etc. Having a menu and a theme makes prepping for the big day a lot easier; plus, its helps to stay focused and on budget. Without a theme, you may end up with overlapping dishes too. No one needs 5 bags of cookies or potato chips. Theme or no theme, definitely start your menu planning soon and send it to your fellow tailgaters.
Another way I like to plan for upcoming tailgates is to make sure all of my equipment is in good shape.  Last year we had a particularly rainy and windy day and I know one of my tents needs to be repaired. I am sure your grill wouldn’t mind a nice cleaning and coat of polish. This is also the time to buy new gear if you need it. Since it’s the off-season, you‘re likely to find a good deal on a new blender or generator.
Also, now is the time to verify and assign responsibilities. Have there been any changes to your group of tailgaters? Did everyone renew their tickets? If one person in the past was in charge of bringing cokes and ice, make sure that person is willing to keep his or her same role for the upcoming season. It’s never too early to start communicating with your team.
I would love to know your thoughts on how you start to plan for your tailgate? Do you use the theme approach? What works? And what doesn’t?
Stayed tuned next week for the second portion of the series – The Prep.

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