What You Need To Throw A Decent Tailgate
Pulling together all the "stuff" you need to tailgate is sort of like planning a military assault: your plan never survives contact with the enemy. You brought the hot dogs, but you forget the buns -- or the mustard, or that special mustard you really wanted to bring, or even the tongs you need to get the dogs off the grill!
Tailgating is more than just beer and bratwurst - and the more you bring, the more you need a system. Photo Credit: James Willamor
But wait - what about checklists? You can grab a free tailgating checklist online (like this one, or this one, or this one - all of which are fine and dandy), but checklists only work if they're complete...and only if you use them.
If you want to throw a decent tailgate and don't want to forget any you gear, you need:
- A trusted organizational system
- The right tools
- A dress rehearsal
Here's how we break it down.
What's a Trusted Organizational System?
We're going to get all "business" here and talk about a concept that best-selling author David Allen preaches: A trusted organizational system. A trusted system is an organizational tool that you believe in. It's not necessarily some checklist you download online, and it's definitely not some rough checklist you keep in some corner of your mind. A trusted system is an organizational tool that you're so confident in that you don't have to think about it.
To find your trusted system, you'll need to try a few things out.
- It's not a bad idea to download or print out an online tailgating checklist, but it's OK to use something else. Checklists aren't always as complete as they need to be.
- Creating your own inventory sheet - which you use when you load your vehicle and unload at the party – might be a great way to make sure that you know what you've forgotten (or are about to run out of) before the party.
- Assembling your own "tailgating kit" is one of the easiest ways to make sure you don't forget anything (ever) - more info on that idea below.
- Mobile apps like Wunderlist or Evernote can be helpful, only there's a bit of a commitment involved in learning to use them and keeping them fresh.
Putting together a kit with all the "stuff" you need every time you tailgate is a time-tested organizational tactic. Photo Credit: rezsox.
The Power Of The Kit
A kit is one of the most useful organizational tactics in existence. Kits are used by the military, by professional travelers, and even some of the world's most sophisticated assembly plants. Kits work because they're brutally simple: You put all the "stuff" you're going to need into it's own dedicated container, and then you leave that stuff in that container. When it's time to go tailgating (or camping or on vacation or whatever), you pull out your kit, double-check the contents, buy/replenish whatever you need, and you're good to go.
Creating a tailgating kit is as simple as buying a large cooler or storage bin. You put all the stuff you need into the cooler or storage bin, and then you leave it in there. That's all there is to it.
If you're saying that you can't leave everything in the kit (for example, you don't want your beer to get warm or your hot dog buns to get stale), you can create a short checklist on a piece of paper, put the paper on the lid of your storage box or cooler, cover the paper in clear tape, and BOOM! You've got a checklist you never forget and that lists exactly what you need.
Does creating a kit mean that you'll have two bottles of mustard (one in the kit and one in the kitchen)? Yeah. Probably. But so what? It's better to own two bottles of mustard than to get to the game and realize you have no mustard when you need it.
The Right Tools
Once you have your kit constructed and your checklist on your kit, you need to bring the right equipment. For many tailgaters, this equipment consists of chairs, a table, a grill, a cooler (or three), team flags, footballs...etc.
Obviously, the ArkPak (which can power a television, a stereo, a refrigerated cooler, and dozens of other electronic devices wherever it goes) is a great tailgating tool. You can use the ArkPak instead of your vehicle's electrical system (or a loud, expensive, and smelly generator) to provide power for the party.
We're going to finish this section by shamelessly suggesting you buy an ArkPak if you don't already have one. Nuff' said.
It might seem silly to 'rehearse' a tailgate party, but it's the best way to make sure you're organized. Photo Credit: wfyurasko
With your kit, your short (and simple) checklist, and your equipment, it's time for a dress rehearsal. Put all the stuff in your car, drive the to local park, and have a cookout. If you realize you've forgotten something, you need to either:
- Add something to your kit or
- Add something to the short checklist that's taped to the top of your kit
If you follow our process, tailgating will become much simpler. You wont' have to worry about what you need to pull out of the fridge on your way out the door. You won't have to apologize for forgetting mustard. You won't have to try and use some checklist you downloaded online that doesn't match your specific situation
Instead, you'll just rely upon your trusted system, enjoy time with friends, and listen to the soft hum of your ArkPak as it powers your tailgating party.