Once again, football season is officially upon us. Tailgating isn't limited to any season or specific sport, but it's most often associated with football—particularly college football.
Over the next few months, millions of people around the country will be planning, and planning to attend, their tailgate parties. Some of those people are going to have a great time, while others are going to wish they had stayed home.
There are a few ways to guarantee a terrible experience for yourself, particularly for those around you. Recognizing party-killers in advance and trying to avoid them is how you can avoid throwing the worst tailgate ever.
You'll thank me later.
Location, location, location!
If you become seriously injured—or killed!—at a tailgate party, not only are you going to ruin the day for your friends, you're going to ruin their whole damn lives.
Well, depending on how much they like you.
No one can plan for a freak accident, but they can use basic common sense to protect themselves. Don't party next to a large body of water. Don't set up shop next to a steep cliff.
And don't park your recliner next to oncoming traffic.
You know what's guaranteed to ruin just about any party? Cops. At some point, the boys in blue replace parents as the most serious potential party crashers, and they never again cede that spot.
Tailgating should be fun—maybe even a lot of fun. But there is a very fine line between a lot of fun and too much fun. As soon as you cross that line, the cops are probably going to show up.
It doesn't even matter if it's a case of one bad apple spoiling the bunch, once the fuzz intervenes in any way, the entire vibe of the party is spoiled. No one can relax because the whole party is officially on law enforcement's radar.
A lot of college students make the mistake of starting way too early. I've made this mistake more than once.
Getting up at dawn always sounds like an amazing idea in theory. Drinking with your friends as the sun comes up and getting pumped for the game—what's wrong with that?
Well, nothing. That is, if you actually go to sleep. Which a lot of people fail to do the night before. And assuming you can moderate your alcohol consumption, which a lot of people fail to do.
Heading out at the butt-crack of dawn is the best way to ensure you're passed out in the backseat of a stranger's van by noon. Shut it down.
If people are going to be drinking, then they need to be eating. Otherwise there is going to be some vomiting happening at some point. Maybe at a lot of points.
A few bags of Ruffles and a case of Coors Light probably isn't going to do. Thinking quality over quantity, Coors Light may be cheap, but it's basically water.
Invest in some good food and drink because eating and drinking are really the only activities that will be going on all day.
If you're tailgating through the game, you have to have some way to actually watch or listen to the game. Otherwise you're just hanging out with friends in a parking lot.
That needs to be the first thing on your to-do list because the game is what the party is all about. It'd be like planning everything you need for a fantastic vacation and getting to the airport, only to realize nobody ever bothered to buy the plane tickets.
You're better than that.
No one wants to be that guy. You know the guy who arrived early and was already drunk before half the guests even arrived.
The guy who insists he's not drunk all day and keeps trying to prove it by stumbling his way through police sobriety tests.
The guy who keeps getting more food and more beer because he can't remember where he sat his down five minutes ago.
The guy who is cited three times for public urination, despite there being several bathrooms within walking distance.
The guy who is passed out, face down, in the grass before the game even started and can't remember anything about what a jackass he was the next day.
Don't be that guy.
Sure you don't want to overdo it, but you certainly don't want to underdo it either.
A great tailgate party shouldn't end with someone passed out in the grass in a pool of their own vomit. And it shouldn't begin with a power nap. Or any other sort of nap for that matter.
Find a happy medium, please.
A great tailgate party has some of the comforts of home—it doesn't have all of the comforts of home. If you want to sit on your couch in your sweats and eat food out of cups with a bunch of dudes, just do that.
Especially if you don't have tickets and plan to watch the game in the parking lot. Why bring the entire living room down to Lambeau (including the carpet) when you can not bring the living room down to Lambeau and do basically the same thing in a much warmer environment.
The last thing you want is a bunch of people standing around in a parking lot with nowhere to sit and nothing to eat or drink. The second to last thing you want is everyone in Green Bay seeing exactly how you live at home on display in a public parking lot.
Having to constantly move out of the way for traffic, being downwind of a trash barge or being directly in the path of the marching band's route to the stadium can ruin and otherwise great day.
It may take awhile before you find the sweet spot, but it is usually worth the extra time. It may even take a few parties before you find your place. Just keep trying.
You'll know it when you find it. And once you do, never let it go.
Anyone who has ever been to a big stadium on game day knows there are countless tailgate parties that are overstocked on drunken testosterone and completely lacking in drunken estrogen.
Everyone knows that after grade school all the best parties are co-ed. A 50/50 ratio isn't at all necessary and may be really difficult to achieve depending on how many bros you have.
If you want your party to be the party everyone within 100 yards wishes was their party, it needs to be at least 25-30 percent female. Oh, and the girls have to be fans, too.
Having girls that complain about the "savage brutality" of football is worse than having none at all.
Remember that a party, by definition, is a social gathering that involves guests. How many guests is completely up to you, but the general rule of thumb is that you need at least four people (other than yourself) to constitute a party.
Otherwise, you're just "hanging out." There are exceptions to every rule of course—like if you've got three people and one of them is Charlie Sheen—but that's the general guideline.
If you're planning a tailgate party, remember that having actual human beings there is as important as party supplies like burgers and brew. Perhaps even more important because eating burgers and brew alone in public is far sadder than just staying home.
There isn't much you can do to plan for a really hot day. Dress appropriately, bring the sunscreen and remember to stay hydrated—and, if you can generate electricity for a couple of fans, do it.
But when it comes to a freezing cold day, planning is absolutely essential. There are few things more miserable than being freezing cold for hours on end. Without the right supplies, what starts off as a tailgate party will end up looking like a scene from Alive by the end of the day.
These ladies are a good example of how to plan ahead properly for the weather. They're dressed in layers, they've got a source of heat and they've got beverages that are keeping smiles on their faces.
If you forget the extra blankets and some hot food, you might as well forget the party altogether.
First of all, nobody with kids freak out. I'm not saying that kids should never be invited to a tailgate party. Whether or not kids should be allowed depends entirely on the type of event you're envisioning.
If you're in college and all your friends are drunken idiots who are known to take their pants off at the drop of a hat, then inviting your baby brother along for the festivities is not the best idea.
Then again, if you're heading down to the stadium to tailgate with the family, well then you probably don't want to extend an invite to your drunken idiot friends who are known to take their pants off at the drop of a hat.
The last thing you want is worlds colliding because then nobody in either world will ever look at you the same way again.
After a long day of tailgating, you may feel a renewed (or just a new) sense of closeness with everyone around you. You ate together. You drank together. You won or lost together. It's only natural.
Don't forget there are still limits to that closeness—even if it doesn't feel like it in the moment. Maintaining boundaries is important. You don't want to say something really weird that everyone will regret tomorrow.
And you really don't want to show something that everyone will regret tomorrow. Just because it's dark doesn't mean it's time to strip off your clothes and go to bed. Look around; are you home yet? If the answer is no, keep the clothes on.