Tailgating is the last great American neighborhood; the new community social, the good old-fashioned block party. No matter what you call it, it’s still the greatest party on earth.

In my 20 years of tailgating on the road, after over 1000 tailgates, I find there is always something to learn, always something that you haven’t seen before, when friends meet to share food and fun.

1. Rise and grind

Get there early. This will give you prime parking spots, plus you’ll avoid much of the last-minute game day traffic. Choose a spot that suits you, whether it’s on the asphalt or in the grassy part of the parking lot, which is easier on the knees, and a bit more cushioned.

2. List it out

A checklist is a must. I have seen people forget plates, chairs, tables (make them sturdy) and even food. Worst of all is forgetting tickets. I use a checklist that I’ve laminated, so it can easily be reused every week. Make your own, or use the one included here.

"Most important of all, when you leave the party, be safe! Always appoint a designated driver. We want you back next week."

3.  Prep is key

Do as much of your prep work at home as possible, so you’ll have more time to spend with friends at the tailgate. Serve smaller portions so everyone can get a taste of everything and serve foods that will be easy to walk around with. If you ‘re going to serve steak, cut it up into bite-size pieces and put it on skewers for a steak kebab.

Serve sliders instead of full hamburgers. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and assign different duties to different families. Get everyone involved! Ask folks to bring their specialty along with the recipe.

4. Take your tech

Flat screen televisions and new satellite dishes are more portable, and great for watching the pregame show or staying in the parking lot to watch the entire game. There are also great apps for smart phones to locate our fellow tailgaters using GPS. This saves time, energy and a lot of frustration. Take plenty of photos to share via social media.

5. Spice it up

Show your colors and your team spirit. Dress in team colors. Decorate your table. Be a participant rather than an observer.