How to Tailgate Like a Pro

{by alexis}–For many, fall means pumpkin spice lattes, sweaters, and a variety of plaid. Here in Columbus, fall means football. Even I get wrapped up in it, now, and since I spend so many of my Saturdays outside in the sun (or wind, rain, and sometimes even snow), I thought I would share with you my tips for a successful tailgate. Follow my lead, and you’ll be comfortable and prepared for whatever comes your way — win or lose.

ohio stadiumBig 10 football has always been a part of my autumns. I spent four glorious years at Michigan State University, and moved to Columbus shortly after graduate school. Here’s the thing: You guys here in Columbus are crazy. “Fanatical” does not begin to describe the level of fandom I have experienced here. I admit to being a little frightened during my first football season.

ohio stadium

Who wouldn’t be scared of that sky?

And then guess what I did? I married one of you! Joe lives and breathes OSU football, so of course I would pick up an interest. As a student at MSU, my attention waned usually around the first half of the second quarter, and a group of girlfriends and I skipped out for nap time. But now, you’ll find me at the stadium five hours early, red cup in hand. I have perfected my loud clap (though Joe still has me beat), and I frantically check the MSU score whenever I can get service. I’m not quite one of you, since I still prefer green, but I’m right there with you.

148863_10102572947090224_689197163_nAnd I’ve learned a lot, thanks to Joe, a few of his college buddies, and his ever-prepared sister. So, without further ado: How to Tailgate Like a Pro.

1. Let’s start with the most important: FOOTWEAR. Girls and their shoes, I know, but really: the quickest path to misery begins with a blister. Choose a shoe with a lot of support. Rely on an old favorite: Today is not the day to break in those new leopard sneakers you picked up at Target (LEARN FROM MY MISTAKES). When you’re shopping for comfort, don’t cheap out: These aren’t the type of shoes that are thrown together in two months to match the latest spread in Lucky magazine. Don’t be afraid to spend a little money on something with more craftsmanship. In my Clippers post, I shared with you my all-time favorite walking shoes, a version of the Clark’s women’s Wallabees. clark's women's wallabeesI’m also a big fan of these Hush Puppies loafers that took me through the rain and cobblestones of Italy. These shoes are genius: they come in a million colors, and several different widths (some of us have feet worthy of a sideshow tent, you know).

hush puppies

This is the kind of footwear you need to be thinking about. Check the weather forecast. Is it raining? Good, break out the Hunters you bought after seeing Kate Moss at Glastonbury. Also, I suggest skipping the flip-flops. They offer zero support, and you stand a good chance of having your toenails ripped off by the crowd while shuffling to your seat.

2. Think about the rest of our outfit in the same way: Comfort should be your first priority. I have seen so many girls sporting what amounts to denim underwear, and — style aside — that just can’t be comfortable after the fifty flights of stairs it takes to find your seat in the C-Deck. You want something loose-fitting and breathable. If you’re unsure, try repeatedly standing and sitting in your questionable item: Are there love handles where there once were none? Did your tank top crawl steadily up your torso? Go with something else, something bigger probably. I sized up in this new Where I’m From tee, that I picked up from Devoted last week.

where i'm from3. I want to touch quickly on makeup. It’s hard to keep a good face on when it’s 85 degrees, and you’re baking in an oven called the Shoe, but it just takes some planning. Try a face primer. I am a longtime fan of Clinique’s Pore Refining Solutions Instant Perfector. It makes everything stay put even when I’ve got sweat dripping down the backs of my ears. How’s that for a lovely image?

4. For the love of God, do not forget sunscreen. I swear, every time Joe goes to the game without me, he comes back with a sunburn the size of Texas and just as red. I have used Cetaphil’s daily moisturizer under my makeup nearly every day of my damn life, and I’ve never gotten sunburned watching a football game. This goes for men too. NO ONE ELSE CAN SEE IT.

5. Think about transportation. Are you planning on dropping six beers or a bourbon slushie? Awesome, you do you, but PLEASE think about how you’re getting home. This goes double for 8 pm games that empty at the same time as the bars. Joe and I are huge fans of the bus: It is cheap, reliable, and if you miss one, there’s another 25 minutes behind that one (unless it’s the aforementioned night game). Uber and Lyft are now becoming staples in the area, alongside the classic taxicab that is perfectly functional if you can manage to snag one amidst the swarming masses of humans in red.

6. Also, I need you dopes to eat. Have a BIG, hearty breakfast (jello shots don’t count) before you have your first drink. It will give you energy, and prevent that drink from going straight to your head.

7. On that note, please drink water. Try to chug a few water bottles at various points throughout the day. Is it hot? Drink twice what you normally would. (I mean drink twice the water, you delinquent.)

8. This may seem obvious, but look at the weather report, yo. Is it raining? Not the best time to wear your leather jacket, probably. You have a raincoat right? What’s wrong with you; go get a raincoat. If you refuse to conform to even these most basic of societal pressures, you can always swing by a drug store for a pocket poncho.

9. Before you leave, grab a few squares of toilet paper and put them in your bag. You’ll be happy to have them when you find yourself in a row full of stalls with empty cardboard tubes and not a square to spare. While you’re at it, grab a tiny bottle of hand sanitizer. Paper towels are the first thing to go after the TP.

10. Prepare yourself for port-a-potties. It’s going to happen; steel yourself.

11. Pack only the essentials in a small, hands-free purse. You want free use of your hands for cheersing and high-fiving your way through the day. For me, the essentials are always chapstick, a tube of concealer, my phone, ID, a few credit cards and my health insurance card. Bring only the things you know you’ll need. In addition to your own convenience, many stadiums are cracking down on the size of women’s bags, and you don’t want to be given the impossible task of getting rid of your bag at the last minute.

12. Contributing to a tailgate? How generous! While scouring Pinterest, keep in mind food safety. For example, mayo-based dips and salads may SOUND like the perfect tailgate addition, but you’ll have second thoughts after your dish sits a few hours in the sun.

enhanced-buzz-8710-1381950704-1913. While you’re planning your food contribution, be sure to use disposable containers. You’ll lose track of anything you brought after the game, and you’ll not want to clean and haul it home. Convenience is key.

14. Do throw out your trash. No, the curb doesn’t count. We’re all adults here, and you know what to do.

15. If you’re meeting folks after the game, agree on a rendezvous point. With all the people, cell phone service can be unreliable, and it’s next to impossible to look for and find someone in that crowd.

So there you have it! If you follow my tips, you’ll be comfortable and safe, and ready for all-day (and night) fun. Both Alicia and I will be tailgating and attending this weekend’s game, and we hope to see you out there!

Did I miss anything? Please leave any other tailgating tips you can think of in the comments; I may be a pro by now, but I’m always eager to learn more!

ohio stadium

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