10 Winning Football Party Ideas

football party foodby Mike Morris

Football season is in full bloom, and that means football party season is upon us. Sure, it’s easier to attend a party than to throw one. But eventually your friends will notice that you haven’t hosted since Brett Favre retired the first time, and it will be your turn. And while you can get away with the basic potato-chips-and-light-beer route, your friends appreciate a feast that shows you’ve given the event a bit of thought.

As a veteran football-party host, I’ve had great moments (when my Bears won the Super Bowl, my guests trashed my dorm room by the fourth quarter) and disasters (same party). Here’s a list of decisions every football-party host has to make before sending out the first invitation. I also share some of my favorite party ideas.

  1. Do you clean first, or after? Some people knock themselves out for days washing windows and scrubbing floors. Others, like me, take care of the basics (clean the bathroom and kitchen, vacuum and dust), but leave the big cleanup for afterwards, when there are so many pretzel crumbs in the carpet that you feel like you’re walking on a lava field.
  2. Do you serve messy food? Chili is a football-party classic — and one of my personal favorites — but pretty much every ingredient in it can leave a permanent stain. Do you go for the gusto anyway, or play it safe with foods that are easy to eat from a plate balanced on your lap (given that laps unfold in an instant when there’s a touchdown or really bad call)?
  3. Do you serve a meal or just let people graze? I like to do both. For one Super Bowl, I had chili in a crock pot from the opening kickoff until it was gone and served beef and Italian sausage sandwiches at halftime. Chips and dip, peanuts, pretzels and a veggie tray rounded out the munchies. How do you like to feed your hungry crowd?
  4. Do you cater, cook or ask for contributions? This is a biggie, so don’t rely on a coin flip to decide. I tend toward cooking a meal and let people bring an appetizer or dessert dish if they wish. If you’ve got the extra cash, though, catering saves time and cleanup and comes off very classy. Asking everyone to bring something can get complicated. What if everyone brings a dessert?
  5. Do you invite the kids? Here’s a touchy topic. Do you ask people to hire a sitter or invite the kids, knowing that children have notoriously short attention spans and are capable of breaking things? If you’ve got kids, like I do, they’re usually in attendance so I leave it open-ended for my guests. How about you?
  6. Do you provide an entertainment alternative? Unimaginable as it might seem, not all spouses/partners (or children, if you answered “yes” to the previous) like football. Do you provide an alternative, like a room for watching videos that have nothing to do with sports? Or do you make them tough it out in a roomful of yelling fans?
  7. Do you monitor liquor consumption? You want your guests to enjoy themselves, but you don’t want to endanger any drivers or pedestrians by letting them leave while still tipsy. Many hosts offer a full liquor bar in addition to the suds, but I like to put the hard stuff away and just serve beer, wine and soft drinks. Make a pot of coffee after the third quarter to serve with dessert, and you shouldn’t have a problem.
  8. Do you go green? Reusable eating-ware is eco-friendly, but disposables make cleanup a lot easier. I tend toward paper and plastic. Which way do you go? Or do you find a workable compromise?
  9. Do you decorate? Decorating in a football theme can set the stage for a festive atmosphere. You can go all out, do nothing at all or add just a few touches of gridiron regalia. Party supply stores are loaded with football-themed items, such as paper plates, napkins, cups, streamers, banners, balloons, tablecloths and centerpieces. You can’t go wrong either way. It’s all about your prep time and money.
  10. Do you plan activities? Is the game and casual conversation enough, or do you like to prime the pump with activities planned around the game? Most of my football parties include some form of distraction from the game. My favorites are drinking games (be careful: my friends are pretty responsible, but yours may not be), football pools and trivia games. The prize for winning the drinking games may be a ride home in a cab, but for pools and trivia, silly little prizes add a fun touch. And who doesn’t want a Brian Urlacher bobblehead for their office?

What are some of your favorite football party activities? Add your comments below.

 

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