While you remembered to grab the grill, your iPod speakers and a few folding chairs, your summer tailgate could afford to kick it up a notch. But don’t fret—we’ve compiled a list of tips and tricks to help you avoid every overdone burger and lukewarm beer. So let’s get started, we’ve got work to do.

Prep the night before:

First, you’ll want to prepare all food the night before you plan to tailgate. This means form the burger patties, chop and slice the condiments, and secure everything in a plastic bag or container to chill overnight. That way, all you’ll have to do the morning of is organize everything in a cooler. Easy as pie.

Chill your refreshments:

Along with the food, refrigerate all of your beverages. By doing so, your beer will stay chilled longer throughout the day. Also, toss a few plastic water bottles in the freezer. You can use them alongside the ice to keep things cool. Once they melt, you’ll be left with plenty of clean water to rehydrate with.

Carry your condiments:

When you get to packing condiments, spices and sauces, organize them in empty six-pack holders. They’ll make for a convenient carrying case—plus, you’ll feel awesome about recycling.

Extra essentials:

Tailgates tend to be quite messy, so be sure to bring plenty of paper towels. Another potential issue revolves around your grill. If you don’t have enough charcoal or gas, you can kiss your good time goodbye. So bring extra just in case—better safe than sorry.

Cleanup supplies:

There are two vital cleanup materials to bring with you—a metal bucket and a large plastic container or trash bag. Once you’re ready to enter the game, you’ll want to safely dispose of the hot coals you used to grill with. This is where the metal bucket comes in. Pour the coals in and cover with water so that they’ll cool off. Next, depending on whether you brought paper plates or actual dishware, store dirty dishes in the plastic container/toss in a trash bag. This way, things won’t start to smell.

Pack the cooler:

Before you head out, you’ll want to pack your cooler. Now, some consider this practice an art, as it has to be done correctly. Allowing your entire tailgate to jumble around inside a box of ice is a recipe for disaster. So, we’re here to help you learn to pack efficiently!

First, put all bottles and cans at the bottom. Cover them with ice (and a few frozen water bottles) and shake so the cubes get in between the cracks. Things will stay extra cold this way. Then, rest your food (already in water-tight containers) on top of the first layer of ice. Add another layer. Anything in a plastic bag should go directly on top. Finally, cover everything with the remaining ice and shake again to fill up any empty space. Now you’re ready to go.

Get the show on the road:

No one likes a cranky tailgater, so get moving bright n’ early in order to secure a quality parking space and/or not hit traffic on the way to the game. Once you arrive, sit back, relax, and enjoy all of your hard work.

Have another handy tailgating tip in mind? Let us know.