Hosts boasting tents in team-colors, cleverly named cocktails, elite grills and smokers, and even flat-screen TVs may think they are ready; however, when game day throws a curveball, it’s the batter not the bat who has to step up to the plate. Before you begin your next big bash, master these must-have tailgate party hosting skills to become top dog of the parking lot party!
Pack Like A Pro
Beer, soda, meat, cheese…more beer: There’s a lot to keep cold inside that cooler. Unless you’re a Tetris World-Champion, you might feel like you need to neglect some items in the name of space. Not so! Instead try the following steps for keeping your cool when packing a lot.
Use a cooler that’s been at room temperature or colder for at least 24 hours. And make sure that every item going into the cooler is already cold. Warm items will melt your ice faster and more quickly chase away your inner chill. If packing water bottles to drink, freeze them first so that they double as ice packs.
Use resealable zipper storage bags and compact water-tight containers to hold meats, cheeses, fruits, and veggies. Squeeze out extra air from bags before packing to save on space.
Just like packing a grocery bag, your heavy, solid items–cans, bottles, and jars–should go on the bottom with your more fragile items on top. Because heat rises, pack items on the bottom that you want to stay cold longer. Once you have everything ready to pack, cover your bottom layer with ice before stacking the next layer of bags and containers.
Before closing the cooler, make sure there are no empty pockets holding warm air. Fill crevices with ice, and for bigger areas, uses ice packs or even frozen water-filled balloons. Keep in mind that your cooler items will stay colder longer if you fill the entire space of your cooler. So, keep packing!
Grill Like a Pro
Your grill is your most important tailgating tool, but the wind and weather might not always work in your favor. Before your barbecuing goes bust, put these tricks in play to start cooking with fire!
Place gas grills perpendicular to the wind to help maintain better temperature control on breezy days. Grilling with charcoal? Face the vents away from the wind.
2. More Fuel
Colder temps mean that preheating and cooking times will take longer than normal. Be sure to pack extra propane, gas, and charcoal briquettes so that you can thoroughly cook your meat. Need a fire starter? Doritos or corn chips can get the job done.
3. Open Carefully
While it’s best to keep a lid on your grill to avoid losing heat, charcoal grills should be opened slowly to prevent ash from blowing up and onto food.
4. Keep It Clean
If your grill is gunky, not only will the flavor of your food be affected but fire can start regardless of where the outside mercury lies. If you’re without a brush, ball up aluminum foil and use your tongs to scrape the ball against the grate. No foil? Use a half sliced yellow onion instead.
Another Pro Tip
Forgot the bottle opener? No problem. There are lots of ways to break into a brew with items you likely have on hand. Here are four of the best ways to keep the tailgate party rolling.
1. Another Beer Bottle
For all but the last bottle of beer, you can pop the top of your favorite adult beverage using the cap of another. Firmly hold the neck of the bottle you want to open. Flip upside down the bottle being used as the opener. Put the corner of the “opener” cap under the cap of the bottle to drink. Apply pressure and the top should pop right off.
2. The Car
The latch to which your car door connects can remove that bottle cap. Place the bottle top entirely beneath the latch. Hook the side of the cap closest to you on the inside of the latch. Apply downward pressure on the bottle to pop the top.
Fold a dollar bill in half so that the short ends meet. From one short end, roll up the bill as tightly as possible. Bend the two ends together, creating a hard, flat corner. Place this corner under the cap, and your index finger between the bill and the bottle. Leverage the dollar bill against your index finger, applying pressure until the cap comes off. Strapped for cash? Folding a sheet of plain paper repeatedly in half until you have a bendable strip similar to the dollar bill can also do the trick.
4. Your Keys
Grip the bottle close to the bottle cap. Place the indentation that runs along the flat side of a house or car key under the cap, so that the ridged side faces away from the bottle. Twist the key toward the ridge side, using your hand as a lever. Off pops the top.
Now that you have mastered the proper tailgate party hosting skills, let your light shine at the next big game as the parking lot pro that you are!