5 Game Day Tips From Bustle Editors For Throwing The Perfect Tailgate

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Whether you're into the pro games or college football, the season you've been waiting for is finally back. That crisp fall air carries with it the hope of a fresh new slate for your team — and also, perhaps, a whiff of queso dip. I won't lie to you, I've spent the past few months dreaming of this season for the tailgate. Ice cold drinks and snacks for days are pretty much guaranteed, and when it finally crescendoes into the football game itself, that's practically a bonus.

We've partnered with Smirnoff Ice and tapped Bustle's most tailgate-experienced editors to lay down the Dos & Don'ts of throwing a successful pre-game party. And remember, whether you've landed coveted seats in the stadium itself or are just watching your team play on TV, when it comes to tailgating, everyone's a winner.

1. DO: Stock Your Cooler With Options

Because getting to choose your drink (as opposed to settling for whatever lukewarm brew is under the melted ice) is a straight-up tailgating luxury. Plus, there's no use guessing which guest has which dietary restriction or beverage preference. Cover your bases (er, yards) and make sure everyone is represented in the cooler.

Pro Tip: "Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of a few beers, especially while I'm tailgating with friends. But stocking the cooler with other options like Smirnoff Ice and plenty of water bottles is also a completely wise decision." - Allison Berry, Romper Branded Editor

2. DON'T: Assume Your Snack Spread Will Organize Itself

Your guests can't build tables and chairs out of hopes, dreams, and pita chips...wait, who was supposed to bring the pita chips??? Make creating the best snack spread this side of the football stadium a priority at every tailgate. Plan ahead who's going to bring what, and then send a reminder text the morning of. Some may call that micro-managing, but those are probably the same people sitting on towels in the grass.

Pro Tip: "Bring enough seating for everyone and a table that’s large enough to fit all the food." - Rosanne Salvatore, Bustle Deputy Editor

3. DO: Assume The Role Of Tailgate MC — AKA The DJ, The Ice Breaker & Gameshow Host

Nobody wants a lame tailgate. And like with any party, it's on the host to spice up dull vibes, diffuse awkward convos, and get everyone pumped. Rule 1: Have a game day playlist ready to go. A tailgate sans music is like a football game without a halftime show. Mid-way through, people will feel trapped and start looking for exits. Rule 2: Always be ready to change conversation topics or break the ice. "Is that a hint of bacon in the queso?" and "Did you just see that UFO fly overhead?" are all great one-liners to keep on hand. Rule 3: Give the people what they want (we mean cornhole). Everyone loves some friendly competition. And whether you're the host or the guest...

Pro Tip: "Don't refuse to play the games." - Kara McGrath, Bustle Deputy Fashion & Beauty Editor

4. DON'T: Be Rude To Your Tailgate Neighbors

When you've stopped the fourth wayward frisbee from contaminating the buffalo chicken dip, you may be tempted to start a rivalry with your nearby tailgaters. Don't! Shake it off and let it go. Not only will it keep the mood friendly — this is supposed to be a fun day! — but it also might come in handy when you can't find the paper towels while BBQ sauce is dripping down your chin.

Pro Tip: "Make friends with your tailgate neighbors, so that if you forget anything, they will be nice enough to lend it to you." - Erin Kelly, Bustle Branded Editor

5. DO: Bring Beverage Coozies—They'll Serve Double-Duty As Drink Markers, Too

It doesn't matter whether it's bathroom soap, beverage condensation, or actual sweat — nobody likes high-fiving a clammy hand. And you know what's even worse than a damp handshake? A warm drink. A coozie is your game day MVP.

Pro Tip: "With coozies, you can easily identify your drink at all times. With an overflow of food, friends, and games, they make it easier to identify your beverage (and cut down time spent for your lost cup)." - Erin Kelly, Bustle Branded Editor

This post is sponsored by Smirnoff Ice. PLEASE DRINK RESPONSIBLY. SMIRNOFF ICE Premium Malt Beverage. The Smirnoff Co., Norwalk, CT.

Design: Mary Blount