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Ah, those college-era tailgating memories. So fun, right?  Solo cups, lawn chairs, cheap beer…but that was then, and this is your more-fabulous now. You’ve upgraded your wardrobe, your sense of style, your taste in music – isn’t it time up your tailgating game, too?

Master one signature (grown-up) cocktail

Yes, beer is essential, but every grown-up tailgate needs a festive libation requiring slightly more effort than pop and pour. And you need not be an expert mixologist to up your game, since there are plenty of tempting, ingredient-minimal cocktails that are just as delicious as they are simple to make.

The key is to select a recipe that can be prepared large batch-style in advance, like this fabulously seasonal Fall Sangria (bonus: the flavor only gets better as it sits). Simply mix, chill until celebration time, and serve over ice.

Upgrade your plasticware

Newsflash! The plastic cup isn’t as cool as it used to be. It’s time to leave your Solo days behind and upgrade to reusable, table-worthy plasticware that’s as chic as it is practical.  

There are endless options to choose from for all varieties of beverages, with additional perks like being  ultra-lightweight , stackable, BPA-free, and shatter-free.

Rethink the bun

Tailgating practically demands that something be served in, on, or between a bun. So, why not take a lesson from the experts and offer something unexpectedly delicious, like the Tailgate Sandwich served by Foley House Inn B&B in Savannah, Georgia. These fabulous slider-sized delights are simple enough for game day fare, with an elegance that could trump any dinner party spread.

Remember the comforts of home

Remember camping as a kid? When you were perfectly excited to sleep on the ground, get dirty, and eat meat in jerky form?Tailgating as an adult should be nothing like that. No one is handing out awards for roughing it.  It’s perfectly acceptable to bring along a few comforts of home to make the festivities that much more enjoyable.  

Consider outdoor pillows, fabric tablecloths, plastic-free flatware, or anything that will add an extra touch of home to the festivities. For an accessory that performs double-duty, pack a chic throw blanket that will confront chilly fall weather in comfort and style.

Pack a tailgating kit

Spontaneity is great…until it’s not. There’s a fine line between impromptu fun and getting caught in the rain sans umbrella with ruined hair and soggy clothes. There’s nothing wrong with planning ahead, and since throwing a few extra items in a tote before heading out takes mere minutes.

Consider your venue, the weather forecast, and the kinds of activities planned. Then, grab a chic tote , and load up. Items you’re likely to need might include: sunscreen, an umbrella, a wine opener, bandaids, a change of comfy shoes, magazines, camera, antacid, breath mints, wet wipes, and matches, to name a few. There’s no such thing as being too prepared, especially since you can leave any unneeded items in the car worry-free.

Add some glam

With glamping having a serious moment right now, add a punch of posh to your next tailgate to be perfectly on trend. 

But there’s no need to go overboard – simply select one or two key pieces for a quick upgrade, like battery powered string lights or lanterns, a bar cart, fresh flowers, a chalkboard menu, proper serveware, or anything else that provides a bit of game day glam.

Don’t be that girl

This is a cardinal rule of adulthood, and it bears repeating here.  Part of what makes tailgating so much fun is the communal effort involved – everyone coming together to create a good time for all (you bring the drinks, I’ll do the grilling, he’ll pack the chairs, etc.). So get involved, participate, and do your fair share.

Express gratitude to those doing the heavy lifting (yes, loading that grill onto a truck is much harder than it looks), and offer to contribute something to the festivities. Don’t be that girl who shows up empty handed, helps herself to the free drinks, and leaves without a word of thanks. If your invite is truly last minute, pick up a bag of ice on the way. Tailgates always need more ice.