By Stacy Thompson
As an obsessed Gamecock fan, the only thing I love more than the game itself is the tailgate before, and usually, after! Even the set-up and take-down are entertaining, as I channel my inner ‘pit-crew’ to improve on my time from the week before, while doing my best interpretation of a real-life Tetris game as I methodically pack the tents, chairs, tables, more chairs and TV into the back of my SUV. Although we take great pride in our tailgate food, my favorite part is the chance to catch up with friends and just enjoy the atmosphere surrounding the stadium. Our tailgate invitations basically have no limits, and are usually RSVP’ed with the standard question – “What can I bring?”
Typically I reply and say, “Nothing, just yourself!” but recently I was a guest at another rabid fan’s tailgate and started thinking about all of the things I could have brought my host/hostess. Maybe it’s the Southerner in us, but I think most people do not like to join a social gathering empty-handed, so here are some suggestions if you’re tagging along at a tailgate or possibly attending one of many holiday parties this season.
Best to bring:
- Cookies – (store-bought more than acceptable) – everyone loves cookies!
- Brownies – same reason
- Boiled peanuts – usually available around the stadium; mixed nuts or roasted peanuts are always welcome
- Flowers – yes, I said flowers – I’ve only had one person bring these to a tailgate, but it really brightened my day – so I’m going to add flowers to this list even though it may possibly be in violation of the Official Tailgating Rules (I’m sure there are some out there)
- Your own beverages – you know what you like and unless you are a mainstream water-drinker, then your host/hostess may not have something to your liking – this goes double if you are one of those “Cherry Vanilla Caffeine-Free Diet Coke” people
- Nothing – yes, this is contrary to the actual point of this blog post, but sometimes it really is OK not to bring anything – but your empty hands can be put to good use in the set-up or clean-up! As a hostess, I truly appreciate anyone who will hang out before or after the game and help out!
Best NOT to bring:
- Prepared dishes/dips/desserts, particularly if they have to be kept hot or cold – if the host/hostess has planned the meal, he/she has also planned how to keep each dish hot or cold – don’t add to it!
- Dips without chips or crackers – if you make a dip, bring the chip/cracker that the dip is served with – I know that sounds basic, but I have several unused jars of salsa in my fridge as a result of that oversight
- Competing dishes – by that I mean, if your host/hostess sends out a menu featuring chili, then for goodness sake, don’t bring your ‘world-famous, can’t-tell-you-the-recipe-or-I’d-have-to-kill-you’ chili – and while we’re on the subject, you can tell anyone who will listen how amazing your chili recipe is, just don’t do it in earshot of your host/hostess and certainly not while you’re stuffing your face with the ‘inferior’ chili
Happy Tailgating Everyone!