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Essential Playoff Tailgating Tips

Your team made the playoffs. Congratulations. You scored tickets to the game? Well that deserves a celebration. As winter sets in, the NFL cookout staple of tailgating becomes as much about surviving as it does gorging. Sub-zero temperatures, wind and sobriety can be a devastating combination. Here are some tips for your winter weather tailgate:

Hot Beverages: Many hardcore tailgaters will stick by their beer of choice, but for those willing to adapt; a hot cider, hot cocoa with a nice shot of choice will both be appropriate to warm you up. While on the topic of hot liquids...

Soup and Stew: Yes, you'll grill out, that's a given. But heat up some soup and stew to add to your cornucopia of delightful choices. Stew is easy to disperse, and spoons are a much easier glove-used-utensil than forks and knives. Make sure you remember the essentials: Pot, ladle, bowls, etc.

Precook Your Food: Minimize time between packaging and mouth. Always a plus. Spending less time standing around and more time eating is a must.

Styrofoam Floor: I know it may sound crazy, but take it from a seasoned Kansas City Chiefs extreme-weather tailgater; if you can stow away some sheets of styrofoam next time you get a package, it will make a world of difference beneath your feat or folding chairs when its below zero outside.

Bring the Right Gear: Don't get caught unable to light your grill in the cold wind. Frustrated fans will quickly abandon your tailgate for warmer pastures if things go south. Try an industrial lighter to get the job done, such as the Zippo Flex Neck Utility lighter to dominate the cold and wind. A regular lighter, if it even lights, may suffer at the hands of winter winds.

Game Ideas: Tossing around a football in the cold will quickly turn into tossing a frozen rock at each other's face. Combine that with wearing bulky gloves and you have a Marsha Brady situation waiting to happen. Bags (cornhole, bean bags, bag toss, whatever you call it) is the premier cold weather tailgating game. Simply, you can hold a drink in your other hand, and you won't embarrass yourself by showing off your Drew Brees (or more likely Ryan Leaf) throwing skills.

Enjoy Yourself: Sitting around talking about how cold it is will only make you feel colder. Talk about how great Aaron Rodgers is or how decent Matt Ryan is. Toss a football around for thirty seconds until your hand freezes. Just be happy you aren't a Chiefs fan or a Colts fan or one of the dozens of other team's fans sitting at home.

Tailgating is a time honored tradition in professional football, and is proven to help your home team win (actual results may vary). Making sure you're prepared for the cold weather will enhance your tailgating time. If you do decide to brave the cold and paint your chest and go hat-less, then don't cry. There's no crying in tailgating.

Kyle Ayers is a writer for CBS Local and, as well as a stand up comedian living in New York, Earth.

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