The Guide to Last Minute Tailgating

**Featured photo by  Harry Knight on Unsplash**

This is the guide to last minute tailgating, but what I really mean is busy people tailgating.  You know, people who know there’s a chance they’ll go tailgating, or know they’re going, but don’t have time to be elaborate. I’ve attended plenty of tailgates in my time, both large and small, and I love people who go all out. When I went to college in Nevada, long before Colin Kaepernick had anything to say about anything, but right alongside him, I joined a great group who would take turns doing all the work. I learned a lot from them. Unfortunately, I can’t put it into practice. I just don’t have the time. But, I love football. I feel guilty about loving it due to all those concussions, but if you invite me to a tailgate, I’m going to go.

Right now my husband is getting his MBA at the University of Tennessee. While I disapprove of their color choices, I like their school song, so I’m willing to attend their games. Tailgating for an SEC game is so different than tailgating for the Mountain West. If you haven’t done both, I think you should. At Nevada I’d roll up, park in the tailgating area, and commence the party. Here I have to find parking at least two miles away, probably pay $10 at a minimum, walk to the tailgate, and get to whatever tent I’ve been invited. People pay more for the good spots here, and a large chunk of them are catered, but if you can find your own spot, these last minute tailgating tips will probably help you out since you’ll be spending so much time just getting there!

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Equipment for Last Minute Tailgating

1. Cooler

I’ve reviewed ways to keep your drink cool before, but for this I recommend a regular cooler. It doesn’t matter if you’re drinking alcohol or not, you’re going to get thirsty. Throw your cooler in the trunk of your car, grab some ice at the gas station, and get going. You can even pick up water, beer, or soda at the gas station if you’re not already prepared. Now, if you’re not serving very many people and you want beer, I really like growlers. Then you don’t have to lug a cooler around. My husband has this one and it keeps his beer cold throughout the game. Hmm. I just realized I spend way too much time worrying about drink temperature.

2. Grill

You’ve probably seen those amazing set-ups on College Game Day where everyone has wild grilling options. Don’t get crazy here. You need something you can throw in the car and go. You’re probably wondering why you need a grill at all if you’re last minute tailgating, so I’ll tell you why. It means you get to cook your food when you get there instead of doing it at home. Genius, right? Okay, so I would say get a charcoal grill. They’re pretty cheap, plus if you’re a broke college student you can probably find one at a yard sale or on Craigslist. Or, even easier, get a stove for camping like this oneIt’s not going to get you on TV, but it will heat your food.

Last Minute Tailgating Food

Bring some dip for last minute tailgating.

1. Meat

Ah ha! Now you get it. You’re providing the main part of the meal, making you the hero – and you had to do zero prep work. Hot dogs are cheap and totally appropriate. Hamburgers are also great; I like to throw garlic salt and cayenne pepper in my bag to season them up, although you can get patties that are already seasoned. Remember to bring buns along, and cheese if you go with hamburgers. There is no need to get any fancier than that if you’re last minute tailgating. The fancy stuff is for people who have more time to devote to this than you. Vegetarians, grab some portobellos instead of meat.

2. Dip

I typically advocate a mix of homemade and store-bought food for parties, but if you are really last minute tailgating, you’ll only want store bought food. I say bring some chips and dip. Then you have a side dish that doesn’t need to be cooked, and really, who needs more than chips and a hot dog at a football game anyway? If you want to get really crazy, pick up a thing of sour cream and use one of those packaged mixes to make a fancy dip. You can even mix it once you get there, saving you even more time.

That’s it! Bring some meat, chips and dip, a cooler, and a grill. Unless you’re tailgating by yourself, request some else brings all the condiments, paper plates, etc. Why? Those people have to pack things up and bring them home. You will not, which means less clean up afterwards. Now, obviously this isn’t completely last minute tailgating, since you will already need to have the equipment at home unless you want to do a frenzied dash through Walmart. But, if you know there’s a chance you’ll be tailgating, you can at least be prepared and do the minimum amount of work beforehand. More time to party!

Throwing a tailgate can be a pain when you're always busy, but it doesn't have to be. #gameday

31 thoughts on “The Guide to Last Minute Tailgating

  1. robin rue says:

    We tailgate at the game and always bring store-bought foods. We have snacks every week for the game when we are watching from home, so I have time to cook 🙂

  2. I agree – bringing meat to a tailgate is awesome, and super easy because there is very little prep work, especially if you are bringing the herbs and seasonings with you to do right there. And I could probably live on chips and dip, so that is also a great choice 🙂

  3. In this day and age of busy living, this is an essential post for tailgaters! Your comment about the University of TN colors made me laugh. I have to admit I had to look them up and I agree. 😉

  4. Jeanine says:

    Tailgating sounds like so much fun! Don’t forget the games and the music too! Love a good grill out amongst friends before the game.

  5. Shoshana Sue says:

    You have the best guide for last minute tailgating! I haven’t tailgated yet but I know I must do this soon and I am going to remember this handy tips. I can’t imagine watching a game without chips and some yummy dip.

  6. I’ve never been a big tailgater, even though it looks like a lot of fun. I tend to watch the games at home, but when I did go, back in college, we all had a pre-game ritual. It’s kind of funny to think about it now because it was so silly. Maybe we should have stuck to tailgating.

  7. We’re in the land of the other UT, Texas. I feel so stinking old tailgating now that we have the kids, but it’s fun once I’ve got a margarita in hand. Your list is spot on: tailgate’s can be a success with minimal planning.

    • Beth Davidson says:

      Hmm, I didn’t realize other countries didn’t tailgate. I guess it is kind of weird – sitting around in trucks eating and drinking before a sporting event. But it is very fun and all about camaraderie, so if you ever find yourself in the US, go check one out! You don’t even have to go the game. 🙂

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