With the arrival of fall, football teams are taking the field and fans are filling the parking lots. Tailgates – a favorite American pastime – can become elaborate, expensive events. The TaxSlayer team wants you to have fun cheering on the players while keeping costs in check. Score big with these 10 budget-friendly tailgate tips:
- Search for season-end savings. Visit the campus bookstore or local sporting goods shops at the end of the football season or any big games to take advantage of price cuts after demand drops off. You can often find deals on apparel, games and other tailgating essentials compared to start of the season prices.
- Upgrade to a school booster. Many schools offer better tailgating locations for higher-level booster sponsors. Spend the minimum to get into the tier you want. As a bonus, eligible Booster fees are a tax write off!
- Keep a tailgate toolbox. Pack a toolbox with tailgate essentials. Your gear will be in one place, easy to store in the garage and slip into the car trunk nicely. Toolboxes have plenty of compartments to separate different items without losing anything.
- Tie-dye for the team. Purchasing fan apparel for the family adds up quickly, especially when kids may outgrow clothes by next season. Let kids craft their own gear with tie-dye, fabric markers and puff paint to create custom clothes.
- Find the freebies. Vendors or brands may set up their own tailgates toward the beginning of the season. Many companies and schools will give away t-shirts, hats and other swag to deck yourself out at tailgates. If you get an extra-large shirt, use a Pinterest hack to make a custom tank or t-shirt dress.
- Swap closets. Host a clothing swap party with a few friends to snag plain colored basics that could double as game gear. Focusing on wearing your team’s colors will let you keep costs low and create an outfit unique to your style.
- Prep and potluck. Instead of picking up pre-made food platters, create tailgate treats at home. For even more savings, make the tailgate a potluck and invite each friend to bring a dish or snack.
- Think reusable versus disposable. Stop using plastic or disposable dishes and silverware, which can add up throughout the season. Bring reusable plates, bowls, plastic cups and silverware. A large tub can help you haul the dirty dishes home.
- Keep it hot. No need to buy an expensive portable warming oven when you can create your own using a spare cooler. Wrap unglazed bricks in foil, then heat them for 45 minutes at 400 degrees. Line the bottom of the cooler with wet tea towels, place the bricks on top and follow with another layer of hot towels.
- Create a no-cost cooler. Take a case of your favorite beverage and empty it out. Line the empty box with two garbage bags to prevent leaking, then layer in ice and drinks. Plus, you won’t have to lug home a cooler home from the game!
Don’t forget the 2016 TaxSlayer Bowl is Jan. 2 at Jacksonville’s EverBank Field. Get your tickets now to watch your favorite SEC team fight for a win versus a team from the ACC, Big Ten or Notre Dame.