When it comes to hosting a great football party, only two things really matter—the spread and the game. Here’s how to host a pigskin party that will have your guests shouting, “TOUCHDOWN!” If you live in a sports town, consider a game watch in your community clubhouse or movie room and get the neighborhood involved!
First things first: stock up on icy adult beverages! Fill a few coolers with ice and a mix of beers, include basic domestics and craft beers for a range of tastes. Unless you know someone is really a fan, don’t choose porters or stouts; they are heavy to drink and often higher in alcohol than other brews, neither of which is good for a four-hour event. A good rule of thumb? Figure the average adult guest will drink two beers every hour. The typical football game is a three-hour deal, not counting overtime, and you know people will be there before kickoff, so count that too. Not everyone likes beer, so think about pitchers of sangria or pre-mixed cocktails to provide an option that also manages consumption. An unsupervised open bar is rarely a good idea, especially if people at the same game watch are cheering for rival teams.
Don’t forget: Water! Bottles are a good, if not the most eco-friendly, choice. You can also fill a large dispenser with water and ice or one of these delicious flavored recipes – just pair it with a stack of cups for easy refills.
Grilling is synonymous with football, so if you have one, plan to use it, weather permitting. You can keep things simple: burgers, dogs, sausages and ribs always go over well. Or you can kick things up several notches with grilled oysters with sriracha lime butter, grilled asparagus and other veggies, jerk chicken or cheddar bacon ranch corn! If your yard is buried in snow during the NFL playoffs and college bowl season, use a cast iron grill pan to create grill marks and add a few drops of liquid smoke to slow cooker ribs, pulled pork and baked beans for smokey grilled flavor in the dead of winter. Round things out with beans or chili in the slow cooker and lay it all out buffet style, so people can fill a plate and get right back to the game.
Don’t forget the snacks! Set up a snack spot – wings, crackers, chips and dips, nuts, canapés (but the un-fussy kind, like an easy bruschetta). If you really want to impress your guests, try making one of these stylish, homemade appetizers…they only take 20 minutes to prepare! Lay out options from the salty and sweet food groups, and plan for more than you think you’ll need. Putting smaller portions in easy reach, like on the coffee table, is also a good move.
Don’t forget: Folks are going to want to eat in front of the TV, so plan for easy finger foods that you can eat off your lap. Spring for sturdy disposable plates too – no one wants a lap full of chili.
Your couch may be sufficient for your family (or you and your dog), but you’re going to need seating for a crowd. Make sure to plan accordingly. Consider traffic flow – your guests will be moving from the food to their seats, with pit stops to the bathroom and possibly outside, depending on where you live. If you’re lucky enough to live where it’s warm during the playoffs, consider a backyard game watch! Plan for easy access so no one accidentally blocks the TV.
Don’t forget: Everyone needs a view of the game, so consider setting up your seating stadium-style if necessary.
Ahem, don’t forget the essentials. Keep the bathroom stocked with plenty of hand soap, hand towels and toilet paper. Set up a “spill station” where the action is: it’s almost a guarantee that someone will forget the plate on their lap and jump up in an exciting moment. So have a couple of rolls of paper towels and an all-purpose cleaner handy to the TV. A hand vac to clean up chips, popcorn and pretzels before they get stepped on is a great idea too. If your party is family-oriented, create some fun for the kids, who are notorious for having short attention spans. Set them up nearby with crayons, paper and coloring books, puzzles, games or a movie in another room if possible. If your menu tends toward the fancy, have pizza, chicken fingers, hot dogs and cupcakes for the little ones.
Don’t forget: A little planning goes a long way. Figure out your guest headcount ahead of time so you can plan for enough food, drinks and seating. Then you can enjoy the game – no matter who wins.