Game day brings together some of the best things in life: friends, family, food and football. You don't need much else to have a good time, but a modest amount of thought and planning takes your game day party from good to great. Follow these tips and tricks to heighten the fun at your next homegate.
Create a Game Plan
For a two-hour function, caterers typically plan for 20 bites per person. Games typically last about three hours, and they often come back-to-back, so stretch those quantities accordingly. Plan for a variety of hot and cold items, some light and some substantial. Bring them out a few at a time, rather than all at once – this helps keep the food fresh and interesting. Keep things safe, too – cooked or perishable foods can safely be at room temperature for a maximum of two hours.
Choose Your Starting Lineup
Four to six types of food are all you need for a modest gathering, but you can certainly make more if you want variety or have special dietary requirements. For example, dips such as hummus, baba ghanoush and salsa are all vegan and gluten-free. Colorful roasted vegetables and dipping sauces are a great seasonal selection that can be served warm or at room temperature. Dishes such as canapés on artisan bread and slow cooked, grass-fed short ribs can be made ahead of the party.
Amp Up the Atmosphere
Banners, balloons and streamers in team colors give your TV room a festive feel, but don't stop there. Improvise slipcovers for your furniture in team colors using sheets or tablecloths. Not only does it lend atmosphere, it's a practical way to protect your upholstery from dropped food or spilled drinks. Before you decorate, take a moment to think about the flow of guests through your rooms. Food should be easily accessible from the viewing area, with room for nibblers to come and go without passing between the TV and the fans. You might need to move some furniture to make this work.
The Game Within the Game
Up the ante with a lively party game, such as this variation on "Don't Say It." Start the game by creating a list of four or five football-related terms that can't be spoken during the game. Choose words that are hard not to blurt out in the excitement of the game, such as "touchdown" or "fumble." Next, deal out a deck of cards so that each player has an equal number. Throughout the game, any player who utters a forbidden word gives up a card to the first player who calls, "Said it!" At the end of the game, whoever has the best poker hand wins.