Tailgating is a bit like camping. No matter how prepared you are, somehow there is always a useful tool or piece of gear that gets accidentally left behind at home. Before you head out to the game, run through this handy list of tailgating essentials to make sure you have everything you need. And if all of these things are already on your packing list, consider yourself a pro!
A roll (or two) of paper towels is a must, but you’re also going to need to wash your hands at some point. Which is why it’s a smart idea to pack a container of disposable disinfectant wipes, especially if the nearest bathroom isn’t close by. They also come in handy for cleaning up surfaces too.
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Even if all of your food is ready to eat and you’re not cooking anything on-site, a lightweight cutting board will still come in handy for slicing limes for drinks, assembling burgers, or cutting sandwiches. If you are cooking at the tailgate, to avoid cross-contamination, pack two cutting boards—one for raw proteins and one for cooked food. And make sure everyone knows which one is which.
Matches or a grill lighter
You’ve got to get the grill fired up somehow. Store matches or a lighter with your other grilling tools (tongs, spatula, grill brush, etc.) so you won’t have to ask your tailgating neighbors for a light.
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You can never have enough large drawstring trash bags. They make clean up a breeze and also come in handy if you’re bringing dirty dishes home after a tailgate. Just stack the dishes or containers inside a trash bag to transport them without making a mess in your car.
Frozen bottles of water
You’ll need plenty of bags of ice for cold drinks, but pack a few frozen bottles of water too. They are great for keeping food cold in a cooler, and as they melt, will make extra water for drinking, hand washing, or pouring over hot coals.
Portable fire extinguisher and first aid kit
Because accidents happen and it’s always better to be prepared.