With football teams getting geared up, tailgating season is upon us. With kids in tow, tailgating looks a bit different than it did in our college days. But, that doesn’t mean it can’t be a fun family outing! You can get into the spirit to cheer on your favorite team AND kick off a fun-filled day for the whole family. Here’s seven tips for tailgating with kids.
1. Dress Appropriately
Before you even leave the house you can kick off the tailgate on the right note by dressing appropriately. Make sure the whole family is representing your favorite team! Whether your kids want to wear a cheerleading outfit or their favorite jersey, get them outfitted in their perfect tailgating ensemble. And, don’t forget the whole “keep warm” thing too. Those fall tailgating mornings or evenings, can get incredibly chilly here in Iowa, so be sure to pack a sweatshirt, rain poncho or winter coat; whatever is appropriate for the day’s weather.
2. Pick the Right Location
It might be worth getting to your tailgating spot on the earlier side, so you can stake out your territory. A good tailgating location for families would have low traffic and be some ways away from the “student section”. (One year my son counted how many times he heard the “F-word” while we were tailgating and reported it back to me;) It’s also a good idea to think about your exit strategy when parking, just in case you would need to leave the game early.
3. Make Your Space Distinct
If your kids will be wandering around the tailgating area be sure to make your space stand out, so they can find it in the sea of others. A tent or canopy might be helpful for creating a landmark for your child to find and it’s also good for a sun break or rain coverage. Even if you don’t have a tent or canopy you can still hang a few decorations or fly your team’s flag in a special spot, just something that your child will know to look for, in case they get lost.
4. Have a Game Plan
These days colleges tend to host family friendly activities at various locations either on campus or in the tailgating area. Be sure to look up your school’s event schedule ahead of time so that you can plan out what you want to attend and not miss out. Be sure to add in time for walking to and from the tailgate site to the stadium, so that you can be there to see pre-game festivities or see the mascot.
5. Keep the Kids Busy
Bring fun things for the kids to play with like frisbees or Nerf footballs (so no one gets whacked in the nose a la Marsha Brady). You can also pack some fun games like Twister or lawn darts or traditional tailgating games, like bags or washers. It will keep the kiddos occupied and encourage them to make friends, which will give you some time to socialize and talk to your friends.
6. Be Prepared
It’s not a bad idea to bring a change of clothes for each kid, even if they’re older. You might not use it, but if you need it, you’ll be glad you have it. We already discussed dressing appropriately, but it’s also smart to bring along extra hats and gloves in colder weather. In addition to extra clothes, make sure you have loads of wipes, hand sanitizer, tissues and stain remover wipes.
7. Keep the Food Kid Friendly
When it comes to kids and tailgating food, simple is usually the best way to go. You can’t go wrong with classics like hamburgers, hots dogs or anything portable. For drinks, the small bottles of water, juice boxes or mini sodas are a good way to control the liquid intake which also means less bathroom trips. And, pack separate coolers, one with kid-friendly drinks and the other with adult beverages, so there’s no mix up.
Let us know what other great ideas you’ve got for the perfect family tailgating experience!
Featured image courtesy of the Twitchell family.