Having company over? In our “Hosting How-tos” series, we’ll teach you how to entertain like a pro. Here are some tailgating tips to help you score big points with your fellow fans.

From concerts to sporting events, there are lots of good times to tailgate! Make your tailgate a fun and flawless event with these simple tips and ideas.

Photo of football cookies

Freeze water bottles for chilled food AND drinks

Pop several water bottles in the freezer the night before. The next day, while packing your cooler, use the frozen water bottles as ice packs! Throughout the day, the water bottles will defrost, leaving your tailgate party a refreshingly cool drink with which to stay hydrated.

Pack single-serve snacks

Rather than bringing an oversized bag of chips or loose desserts along, pre-pack your snacks into single servings. Alternatively, you can purchase treats that already come individually packaged (in case you were wondering, yes, Cheryl’s cookies DO come individually packaged).

Pre-pack utensil sets

Prepare ready-to-go utensil sets wrapped in a napkin so friends can simply grab and go. This will eliminate everyone gathering around in the same area at the same time to sort through the utensils for the ones they need.

Know the venue

If possible, head out to the area beforehand and acquaint yourself with the layout. That way, you can take note of the areas with the most shade, pick out the best spots to park in, and be aware of all exits to help you beat the rush home.

Bring a distinguishing flag or pole

Especially in the case of larger events, your group may find it difficult to find their way back to the car. Attach a tall, unique flag or pole that stands out from the crowd so they can spot your car from far away. This is also a good idea if you are meeting up with others; just describe your flag, and they’ll be able to find you no matter where they are parked.

Slice burger toppings beforehand

Skip the mess that comes with slicing onions and tomatoes, and slice them the morning of. Lay them all out in a large aluminum tray, and you have mini portable build-your-own burger bar.

Brings snacks for sharing with neighbors

Part of the fun of tailgating is encountering all the like-minded people parked around you. Bring extra snacks for sharing with your neighbors; who knows – maybe they’ll have some delicious eats they’ll share with you in return!

Clean up as you go

Rather than leaving all the clean-up until the end, place several trash bangs around the area so guests can clean as they go. This not only saves times on clean-up but will help you avoid the rush getting out as the rest of the cars are still busy tossing their trash.

Bring bug repellent

This is especially important when tailgating in the summer. Prepare bug repellent such as citronella candles or spray. Candles work best to keep insects from the food, and spray can be applied directly to the body to help avoid those unwelcome bug bites.

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