Great Tips for Tailgating

You're guaranteed a successful tailgate party with these winning helpful hints:

Keep the menu simple. Guests aren't expecting a seven-course meal at this kind of casual get-together. Three to four homemade dishes should be the maximum. Fill in with purchased items like chips and dip if necessary.

When selecting foods, look for ones that are easy to eat while standing up or sitting in a lawn chair. Also, dishes made without perishable ingredients (such as mayonnaise) travel best. Rely on foods that can be made ahead and brought to the event or that can be cooked there on the grill. When transporting, remember to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. If you're feeling ambitious, handle all the food yourself and divide the cost among the group. Or assign a food item to each person attending.

To get an early start in the morning, pack the car the night before with nonperishable food, chairs and tables. Don't forget supplies like a blanket or tablecloth to spread over the tailgate and a variety of paper products (plates, napkins, utensils, paper towels, trash bags, resealable plastic bags, etc.).

True tailgaters proudly show their support of the team, so dress in team colors or jerseys!

Just before heading out, pack the food and beverage coolers. Covered plastic containers work great for all kinds of food because they prevent leaks and won't break during transport.

When you get to the parking lot, fly a team banner so other tailgaters in your group can find you. Or keep in contact with cell phones.

Plan on eating at least 45 minutes before the game starts. This gives you time to clean up and pack things away.

Before heading into the game, make note of your parking location so you're not lost in a sea of cars afterward.

Instead of fighting traffic jams when the game is over, linger in the parking lot for an hour or so. Rehash the highlights of the game over a snack or dessert.