Mary’s Guide to Off-Season Tailgate Prep

Miami Hurricanes Tailgate Party My tailgating philosophy is derived from my belief that guides most super fans… If you love them enough, they will win. When it comes to tailgating, my view is… if you throw the best tailgate EVER, they will win. See 2009 Miami vs. Florida State in Tallahassee. Forston didn’t drop that pass on his own. It was because I made breakfast, lunch, dinner, 250 orange and green Jell-O shots and dessert for a 12 hour tailgate that will go down in history as one of the all-time greats.

As the famous saying goes “Great tailgates were not built in a day” . . . or something like that. At this time of the year, when football news has dried up and we are left feeling empty and purposeless on Saturdays and Sundays (and Thursdays and Fridays, for that matter), you might be wondering what you could possibly do to guarantee the success of your team in the fall.

I’ll tell you what you can do… Start prepping for your tailgate parties NOW. You think the stinking [insert hated rival team here] have fans like you already preparing for game day? Of course not – because they suck and your team is special! It’s time to get a leg up on the competition and put the off-season to good use! Here are some ideas to do just that:

Develop a Plan

What are your tailgating goals for the year? Are you throwing something for just your family and/or close friends out of your sedan or are you buying/renting an RV and inviting 5,000 of your closest friends? Be realistic on your time demands during the season, your budget and whether you can realistically rely on people to lessen your load on either. Think of how you can best utilize both your time and money and divide assignments amongst your group. Perhaps someone can always be the beer person. Perhaps someone else is the griller. Someone else the baker. Another is hard liquor. You get the idea. This will save you a lot of heartache in mid-October so you don’t find yourself waking up at 3:30am prepping food for a noon game or serving runny orange and green jello shots at your tailgate because you didn’t plan ahead and/or ask for help.

Buy Tailgating Equipment Now, or Better Yet, Yesterday

I buy my tailgating gear from a small company in Rhode Island whose owner gave me a valuable tip a few years back:  never, and I mean NEVER, buy tailgating equipment right before, or during, football season. If you are lucky, they will rob and price gouge you. More than likely, nothing will be available. So, get your tents, chairs, tables, flags, etc. now . . . or as soon as you finish this reading this article!

Make a List

Now that you have your tailgating equipment, it is time to make a list of everything you want to bring to games. Laminate that list and have several copies. Why? Because drunk super fans tend to lose and/or spill cocktails on things. On this list, you should have EVERYTHING you need to throw the perfect tailgate for your beloved team. Tailgate tents? Check? Team-logo chairs? Check? Portable grill? Check? Team-logo grilling equipment? Check.

The last thing you want to have happen is that you arrive at the tailgate and realize you left behind your team-logo cornhole bags. Obviously this is a bad omen that [insert your favorite team here] could lose the game. And it’s all your fault. Maybe if you had prepared a little better this wouldn’t have happened. Yet, here you are, responsible for a double overtime loss at home because you couldn’t get your stuff together. I hope you’re happy. Next time, make a list.


At the first tailgate it will be fun to catch up with all your old friends that you haven’t seen since the spring scrimmage. But as much as you love your tailgating buddies, by game 2 or 3 this novelty will wear off and you will need something else to distract you for the 4-12 hours of drinking and eating ahead of you. This is where music and tailgating games come in. Buy your team-logo cornhole set-up right now (see above) and get a portable beer pong table. Then, develop your game day play list.

After inserting classic songs obviously written about your team like “Rock You Like a Hurricane,” the ‘Canes remix of Ballin’ Boys and Las Fortunas (this song is about the ‘Canes beating the ‘Noles . . . really, it is), you throw in some more contemporary songs to get people pumped up and in the mood to do some keg stands. Then, according to your tailgating plan (see above), test the play list out on your playing medium (anything from an iPod speaker deck to HUGE speakers that can be heard across the RV lot). Planning on watching games at your tailgate? Get the TV and satellite set up now and practice setting it up after consuming 2-3 beers. Trust me on this one. You also might want to make a laminated cheat sheet for this one too. Why? Because drunk super fans forget things and you don’t want to mess up your expensive equipment because you got a little greedy with the Jell-O shots.

So, fellow-tailgaters, use this off-season wisely. If you follow these guidelines, your tailgates and thus your team, will be unstoppable come September!