How Not to Ruin Your Tailgate
Expert Advice

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DID YOU HEAR?

WHAT DID YOU SAY?!

I SAID, DID YOU HEAR? ABOUT BOB?

OH SURE, I’D LOVE ANOTHER BEER, BOB.

And that, my friends, is how annoying your party—tailgate, homegate or barbecue—becomes when your music dominates the scene. No one is there for a concert. It’s a party. With other people. So you can talk . . . to . . . them. They are there to catch up, crack jokes, and bash the other team and their crappy coach that you may secretly admire in some way, and therefore hate even more. So, to avoid ruining your outdoor gathering, keep the music at a level that just fills the silences as you hit the next conversational stride or refill your glass.

That’s just one way to drop your tailgate in the dumper. There are nuances to hosting, but here’s some big, but not always obvious ways you can blow it, and how not to.

Wrangling

Now after a while, some clown will over-indulge—or came in pre-lubricated—and think they’re cute. But they’re not. At least not after a few minutes. Have a plan for removal. Like luring them away with a special bottle they should sample or some elusive hero they should meet. Then in that place off to the side, hand them on to someone who can give them the “you’re being an idiot” talk and a bottle of water, or call them an Uber while you go on hosting.

Gotta Go, Gotta Go

Want to avoid endless “where’s the bathroom” interruptions at your tailgate? Or party roamers in your house searching for relief? Then tell at least the first 10 people that arrive where the bathrooms are. They’ll spread the word. At your house, if it’s not a simple route to your facilities, put up signs. Big arrows are always good. In team colors is better. Or have a picture of your quarterback, arm outstretched in the right direction and let him serve as the bathroom GPS.

Beat the Hangry

This may sound like a “duh!” but many a host blows this. Hangry is real. Keep the food coming from the start. Folks arrive ready to nosh to most barbecues and tailgates. And if the grill’s going, those mouthwatering aromas can rile up the hangry within, making folks a bit touchy, especially when they’ve been downing something cold and frothy. And space out the bowls of pretzels, chips, dips and apps if you’ve got the room. Clustering them all at the end of one table just makes for a jam up.

Make It Yours

You’ve done all the work to get this thing underway and going, so put your stamp on it. And free yourself from restocking or staffing a full bar—unless that’s your party-central site. Instead (or in addition), present a signature drink. Theme it.  To the team, the spirit of your tailgate or the reason for the gathering. Make it a simple mix. Make it ahead and have loads at-hand in a nearby cooler or fridge. Then refill as needed. When it’s gone, it’s brews and bottled libations only.