September means the start of the NFL season. If you can’t get to the first game, why not throw a tailgate party in your own backyard instead? From team-inspired decor and dishes to entertaining ideas for the kids, here’s how to throw your football party in style.
Start with practical considerations. Disposable cups, plates, napkins, straws and cutlery all offer opportunities for team-themed decor. Seek branded items or decorate with serving ware in team colors. Get kids in on the decorating game by enlisting them to make banners or a papier-mâché football piñata.
Celebrate your home field advantage with a backyard buffet teeming with party favorites—think hamburgers, hot dogs, chili, nachos, grilled corn and chicken wings.
If you really want to up your game, go team-themed. Cheering for the Green Bay Packers? Then your fellow cheeseheads will want to indulge in some fresh cheese curds and homemade mac and cheese. Hosting a gathering of Patriots fans? Time to fire up a hot pot of New England clam chowder. Uniform colors can also inspire. Recruit your kids to add food coloring or colored candies to football-shaped rice cereal treats, or get them to help decorate cookies and cake pops in your team’s colors.
Be a good sport and include some team-agnostic items for guests who are cheering for the competition. White icing lacing transforms chocolate cupcakes and ice cream sandwiches into footballs; piped mayo does the same thing for sandwich rolls. Cut cheese, pumpernickel bread and deli meats into football shapes. You can even arrange veggies and dip in the shape of a football, or create your own stadium with a square dish of guacamole surrounded by chip “fans.” Garnish with sour cream yard lines and goalposts made from pepperoni sticks and toothpicks.
Naturally the game is the big draw, so decide where you’re going to watch it—inside the family room or outdoors on the patio? Check the weather and plan accordingly. It also doesn’t hurt to have some second-string activities lined up, especially for little ones with short attention spans. Download or create your own football bingo cards, or set up a table for crafting custom pom-poms and foam fingers and unleash your inner cheerleader.