10 Genius Tailgating Hacks to Be the Envy of the Parking Lot

One of the best parts of game day is the tailgate party, full of food, drinks and friends as you hype up to watch the big game. The key to throwing an amazing tailgate party is preparation and anticipating what you'll need on game day. The basics are easy to remember- silverware, condiments, napkins, beers, etc- but sometimes the innovative, ingenious hacks are what bring the tailgate to a whole new level. These 10 tailgating hacks ensure that you'll have the best tailgate party in the parking lot!

1. Frozen Water Bottles

Don't underestimate the power of dual function! One challenge of tailgating is having everything you need without being overcrowded. If you freeze water bottles the night before, they can work as ice packs at the start of the day, keeping your food cool until it's ready to be eaten or grilled. Then, take them out and let them melt, and you'll have a supply of cold water for your guests! Hydration is key to continuing the fun, especially when you're drinking, so this hack is both organizational and healthy!

2. Designated Dish Spot

Clean-up is also an essential part of tailgating, and the faster and more efficient it is, the longer you can party it up before game-time! Bring along an empty lidded bin or a cooler to put all your dirty dishes, utensils and cups in. This way, you have a designated spot for your dishes and can keep your car clean while you watch the game.

3. Piping Bag Pancake Mix

If you're starting your tailgate in the early morning, you might want some breakfast food to start the day. Plus, carbs are what keep you going when day drinking! For easy pancakes on game day, make your pancake batter ahead of time and use a piping bag. When you start cooking breakfast, you can have pancakes ready in minutes and can throw the bags away when you're done. Using a ziplock bag is a simple DIY hack for a piping bag. Here's how to use one!

4. Hand Washing Station

Although some might settle for simple hand sanitizer, one indispensable hack is to have a full-on hand washing station. When you're working with raw meat and marinades, you'll want to wash your hands with soap and water. Use an empty laundry detergent dispenser (or a cooler with a water spout), and fill with warm water. Have hand soap nearby and a paper towel roll. Now you can wash off the sunscreen, spilled beer and condiments that will inevitably get on your hands.

5. Car Bar!

This one is a little bit extra, but if you feel like going all out on your tailgate, it's definitely worth it. After all, we all know the drinks are the most important part. If you get creative, you can have a whole bar from your car. Bring a small shoe rack and put it in the back of your car, accessible from the trunk. When you get there in the morning, put your bottles on top of the shelves, with some plastic cups, and let your guests go crazy on mixed drinks and cocktails! Don't forget bottle openers.

6. Check the Propane

This isn't really a hack, but more just a piece of advice to avoid a tailgating tragedy. If you show up with your hot dogs and burgers ready to BBQ, nothing is worse than realizing that you don't have fuel. Grilling is an essential part of a good tailgate, so double check the propane the night before.

7. Make Yourself Easy to Find

tailgating hacks
Flickr: Alex Winner

One difficulty of tailgating is finding your tent. If you have friends and family meeting you at the tailgate, they'll have to wade through a sea of tents of happy tailgaters trying to find you. Tie some large balloons or flags to your tent to be easily recognizable!

8. Fitted Sheets as Tablecloths

No matter the weather, the tailgating must go on! On a windy day, nothing is worse than your supplies blow away every time a big gust comes along. To remedy this, buy some cheap twin-size fitted sheets, and use them as a tablecloth. They're also reusable and environmentally friendly- just put them through the wash and they're ready for the next tailgate.

9. Makeshift Trash Cans

It seems easy to tie a trash bag to the table leg and leave it be, but this can get messy as the day goes on, along with attracting bugs on a warmer day. Buy a cheap pop-up laundry hamper and put a garbage bag inside! This tailgating tip provides an easy-to-find trash station that won't fall on the ground or blow away.

10. Prep Ahead of Time!

This tailgating hack seems like a no-brainer, but it truly makes all the difference. Chop your veggies ahead of time, put burger toppings in Tupperwares, and make all dips and sauces. Marinate any meat in sealable bags, and put meat on skewers so they're ready to grill. If you made chili or dip in your crockpot, keep it warm until you leave for the game.

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