Touchdown! Host a Kid-Approved Tailgate
Tailgating at football games and other sporting events has become a national pastime that’s nearly as beloved as the sports themselves. The smell of grilled foods, the abundance of team colors and the thrill of camaraderie fill the air in the hours leading up to kickoff, making for a festive environment for fans of all ages.
Whether it’s a home game or a big playoff in another city, including your kids in game day activities will be a special experience that the whole family will remember. Here are tips to ensure your party is kid-approved and a complete success for all.
Fun for Everyone
Since most tailgaters start to set up as many as four hours before kickoff, it’s important to stock up on diversions to keep children busy in the run-up to the big game. Be sure to pack everything from toys and coloring books to retro outdoor activities like horseshoes, ladder toss or cornhole. Lawn games and physical activities can involve the grown-ups, too, keeping generations engaged with one another and having a good time together as they wait for kickoff.
A small amount of advance planning can ensure a safe experience for the youngest participants. The tailgating area surrounding a football stadium is vast and dense with revelers and—particularly if you’re at an away game and in an unfamiliar environment—it’s easy for kids to lose their way. Try the old music festival trick of flying a tall flag or a handful of helium balloons above your car or tailgating tent—that way, your kiddos can find their way back if they happen to stray from your crew. Even better, make a game plan for how to stay in touch with all members of your party. Know where the nearest bathrooms and other landmarks are, and make sure children take an adult with them so they don’t get lost in the maze.
Particularly since tailgates involve an array of grills and smokers, always keep hot surfaces supervised by a designated grill master so little hands don’t get burned. For small scrapes and minor mishaps, pack a simple first aid kit in the car, complete with adhesive strips, hydrocortisone cream, bug spray and allergy medicine to ward off or treat mild burns, bug bites, or slight allergic reactions to environmental elements. (Bonus points if your Band-Aids have your team’s logo on them.)
All in Good Taste
The array of tailgating treats can run the gamut from simple cold cuts and chips to full-tilt buffet spreads, complete with gourmet burgers, team-themed cupcakes and special appetizers. Whatever your style, be sure to stock up on kid-friendly snacks, since the youngest tailgaters can also be the pickiest.
For extra points, label everything before you pack up the car to keep solutions within reach in the event of a pint-sized meltdown. To score a winning touchdown with guests, get in touch with parents bringing little ones in advance to ask about allergies—that way, you can accommodate everyone and keep your guests happy and healthy.
Expect the Unexpected
Bad weather can delay any game, so bring rain gear if the forecast calls for it and stock up on dollar-store ponchos in case guests show up unprepared. Attending a game in a cold climate or expecting temperatures to drop by kickoff? Make sure you’re prepared with blankets, hand warmers and hot beverages, and check ahead to see if you’re allowed to bring them inside the stadium.
No matter the weather, even if you’re only traveling a short distance for the festivities, the drive home might prove too much after a long day of fun with the kids. Consider booking a hotel near the stadium to have a base close to the tailgating activities and to enjoy a good night’s rest after the big day.
A little planning goes a long way when putting together the ideal tailgating experience, and for kids, those memories can foster a lifelong love of the game and such celebrations. Especially when fans of all ages come together to enjoy the age-old tradition, it’s the perfect game plan for a great time for everyone.