Arguably the most important part of tailgating is the preparation. If you're a student and on the Friday night before the game you say "hey, wanna have a tailgate tomorrow?" your tailgate party will fall short of what it could be.

For a serious tailgater like Mike Herchel, plans are made on Wednesday, food purchased on Thursday, set up and cooking preparation on Friday night, and set up 5 hours minimum before kickoff.

Part of preparation is looking out for yourself and your guests. Alcohol, particularly beer, is an important part of tailgating for many people. If you host a tailgate, it's a pretty safe bet someone under the age of 21 will try to get his or her hands on an alcoholic beverage. Consider alcohol laws when you think about how open or how exclusive you will make invitations.

Just because you're outdoors and calling it a tailgate, your event should be planned like you would any other party.