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The football playoffs are on, the Big Game is around the corner, and I’m excited for people whose teams still have a shot! My hometown team (Chicago) is sadly out of the picture, but I still love all the camaraderie that big football games bring.
I’ve hosted or co-hosted a party for the big game every year for the past handful of years, and I’ve learned a few lessons. First, don’t invite 60 people into an apartment that more comfortably fits 20. 40 people will inevitably show up and make it really crowded. 🙂
Second, plan ahead! With a plan in place and the help of the grocery store, you can enjoy your friends, the commercials, and the football game without being in the kitchen the whole time. Here are my top 5 tips for hosting a big game party:
Get Some Help from the Grocery Store
I often have the idea that all of my parties need to be 100% homemade. This is a trap! Make a few things but purchase the rest. Otherwise, you’ll be spending all of your time in the kitchen.
For my party, I bought taco dip and a bucket of buffalo chicken wings from Jewel-Osco. While I was there, I got the ingredients to assemble Chicago-style hot dogs and Coca-Cola Classic Floats. Jewel-Osco has coolers full of football fare right when you walk in the door this time of year, with all kinds of food for the game.
Make It a Potluck
There is no need to make all the food yourself. Ask guests to bring appetizers, chips & dip, dessert, beer, pop—whatever you need. One year we had so many people asking to bring things that my husband suggested that some of his friends bring plastic silverware. We had so much that I still have some of it! Haha. Guests are always happy to contribute to the celebration.
Add a Salute to your Hometown Team
Your team didn’t make it all the way to February? Mine either. That’s no reason to not give your city some love. In a nod to my hometown team, I made Chicago-style hot dogs for my game day spread. Here’s the ingredient list for them!
Chicago-style hot dogs
Dill pickle spears
Pickled sport peppers
Chopped white onions
Sweet relish (neon green version optional) 🙂
Live in New Orleans? Make some jambalaya! Boston? A big pot of clam chowder sounds yummy for a chilly Sunday. Philadelphia? Cheesesteak sandwiches make great party food. Buffalo? Buffalo wings, of course!
Include a Throwback to Childhood
It was a special night in my family’s household when we’d get out the pop and ice cream to make Black Cow Floats. It’s basically a root beer float but with Coca-Cola Classic instead of root beer. For the game, I’m dishing up scoops of vanilla ice cream at half time, and my guests will top the glasses off with either Coca-Cola Classic or Coke Zero Sugar. Include both a straw and a spoon for serving, and don’t worry if all the glasses don’t match. I like the look of mismatched glasses in all different sizes.
Get Crafty with Decorations
My friend Kelley of Haviland Events lent me a hand with this one—she created game day garland out of cardstock and a sharpie, tied together with string. You can get some fake turf online, and knick-knacks like mini footballs at the dollar store. No need to buy a cheap plastic tablecloth—use a white or beige one that you already have, and pile the food on top. The food is the star, anyway!