Most parties take a little organization, but a tailgate party takes planning and then some. After all, you can’t just duck back into your house if you forget the corkscrew. That’s why it’s important to heed these words from the author A.A. Milne, who wrote one of Rae Lynn’s fave books:   

Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up.  —Winnie the Pooh 

Florida Gators Tailgating ChecklistThe only things you want mixed up at your tailgate party are the drinks. For everything else, we have a solution:  Rae Lynn’s Handy-Dandy Tailgate Packing/Decorating/Setting Up Checklist!    

Use this list to make sure you have all the tailgating gear on hand when you get to the parking lot at your team’s stadium. You may not need everything on the list below, but you won’t forget anything if you refer to it when you’re getting ready.   

When it comes to packing, recall the manufacturing term “LIFO” (Last In, First Out). 

What, you’ve never worked on an assembly line? Well, now you’re assembling a tailgate, so pack your car in reverse order. To put it plainly: The table does not go on the bottom, with everything else piled on it. Instead the last thing in and first thing out should be your table, along with a tablecloth that shows your team spirit. Set up the table, toss the tablecloth on it, and you’re ready to unpack in style. (Chairs can wait until later.)   

Loaded Tailgate by Public Radio ExchangeSwizzle Trick: Don’t even consider setting up a tailgate without a drink. If you’re like Rae Lynn, the first thing in your hand will be a Bloody Mary. So make sure drinks are readily accessible—including non-alcoholic ones for traveling if you’ve got a ways to go.   

To keep your vehicle festive and your guests’ game-day best clean, drape a blanket or tablecloth in your school’s colors in the back and over the bumper of your car. Follow that up with items you don’t plan to take out. Then fold the cloth in and pack everything else on top.   

Keep a large basket at home with all of the dishes, barware, silverware, decorations, and favors you need for each game . Then you can just grab it on game day and know you’ll have everything you need from the list below.   
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Rae Lynn’s Handy-Dandy Tailgate Packing/Decorating/Setting Up Checklist

Food Containers 
  • Cooler 
  • Picnic basket 
  • Serving dishes 
  • Storage containers with lids 
  • Ziploc bags   
Setting and Sitting 
  • Table (and tablecloth) 
  • Chairs   
  • Car Magnets 
  • Flags 
  • Signs 
  • Centerpieces 
  • Flowers (real or artificial)  
  • Pitchers/plastic containers 
  • Cocktail shaker 
  • Stadium cups 
  • Disposable cups (especially handy as to-go
      cups when walking to the game) 
  • Stirrers 
  • Drink umbrellas 
  • Drink napkins 
  • Bottle opener 
  • Corkscrew
  • Grill 
  • Charcoal 
  • Lighter fluid 
  • Propane 
  • Cooking utensils 
  • Fire extinguisher   
  • Hand sanitizer 
  • Serving spoons 
  • Plastic or paper plates 
  • Silverware (even if it’s plastic) 
  • Napkins or paper towels   
Eating & Imbibing 
  • Menu items 
  • Nuts 
  • Alcohol 
  • Mixers 
  • Water 
  • Soft drinks 
  • Ice 
  • Lemon and/or lime juice 
  • Drink garnishes 
  • Salt & pepper 
  • Gum and/or breath mints
  • Hot sauce 
  • Worcestershire sauce 
  • Horseradish 
  • Celery   
  • Coffee in Thermos 
  • Styrofoam cups 
  • Cream 
  • Sugar
  • Party beads 
  • LED ice cubes 
  • Glow sticks   
  • Game tickets
  • Extended reach lighter 
  • Backup matches 
  • Votive candles & holders 
  • Lanterns and/or flashlights 
  • Toothpicks 
  • Radio 
  • Batteries 
  • Blankets 
  • Cloth towels 
  • Sunscreen 
  • First-aid kit 
  • Scissors 
  • Pen and notepad   
Cleaning Up 
  • Bus pan for dirty dishes, utensils 
  • Trash bags   
Follow this list and you’ll keep your tailgate party gear organized, so you can concentrate on what’s really important—showing your guests’ a good time and thrashing the other team.

Got some tailgating tips of your own? Please share your tailgate party ideas below.

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