I have WONDERFUL news! The NFL regular season has begun again. That long drought without football is always difficult for me. On Sunday, J and I threw a party to watch the Seahawks and Cowboys games.
We love throwing game-watch parties. They’re a great way to get family and friends together. This year, we’re in a family fantasy football league as well. So, this game watch had an added level of competition in it unlike any in year’s past.
After several years of dating during football season, we’ve got this game-watch party planning down to a science. What I apparently don’t have “down to a science” is my DSLR. The photos were all SUPER blurry, even after I thought I fixed it during the game watch. I’m totally bummed! But iPhone photos aside, here’s how to plan a football game watch party!
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Depending on how important the game is, anywhere between 1-3 weeks of advanced notice is fine.
Assign dishes to guests. Make sure when you set up your game-watch invite that you tell people what they can bring. Most people WANT to bring a dish, so don’t worry about offending anyone. Also, remind people to BYOB if you don’t want to have to worry about the time and money associated with finding the perfect breakdown of beer vs. wine vs. liquor for your party. One thing I try to always have on hand for game watches are the ingredients for mimosas. No one should have to watch a morning football game without a mimosa! Otherwise, people are usually on their own for alcohol.
If you’re hosting a morning game, consider a breakfast theme for people’s side dishes. Afternoon and evening games allow for the typical pot luck dishes. If you know someone is going to definitely going to show up without bailing at the last minute and they’re either really busy or just don’t enjoy cooking, consider asking them to bring plates or cups so you have less cleanup.
1) Clean and get your house ready the day before
I know it sucks to spend your Saturday (or Friday night, if you’re into college football) cleaning. But you’ll thank me tomorrow. Do all of the major cleaning you’re not going to want to deal with the next day, done tonight. Scrub the toilet (yuck), clean off the counters, put away random knickknacks, finally go through all of that mail that’s been piling up on your entry way table. Get it over with and out of the way.
Then, chop up or marinade anything that will need to go into the oven, smoker or crock pot first thing in the morning. This will make your morning a lot less stressful. Plus, now your hands won’t smell like onion and garlic all day.
This is also a good week to go to Saturday night service, if you don’t want to miss church, your church offers a Saturday night service and you want to focus your Sunday morning on having company and relaxing.
2) Meet your self-care needs in the morning
Before we host game watches I wake up, pour a cup of coffee, and put whatever needs to be in the crock pot, into the crock pot. Then, I go for a run as soon as possible. I listen to an audiobook or podcast on my run to make it go faster and feed my brain. After that, I come inside, shower, brush my hair, and do any other remaining food prep or cleaning necessary.
By taking care of myself first, I find that I am less stressed and overwhelmed before people start showing up. Plus, my hair is dry. I have stick-straight hair so I don’t have to worry about blowdrying it. I actually couldn’t tell you the last time I plugged in my blow dryer. As long as it’s not a 10 AM game, my hair is dry by the time guests show up. For those 10 AM games, though, I make no promises. About 30 minutes before people show up, I sit down to do my makeup. This is also when you put your jersey on, of course! I don’t put my jersey on until all of the food prep is done, for obvious splatter and spill reasons.
3) Get your decorations set up and plates/utensils set out
The good thing about football game watch parties is that no one is going to pay attention to your decor for very long. They’re there to stare at the TV or stand in the kitchen around the veggie tray and chat with your other guests.
There are a lot of tutorials on pinterest for game watch decor. Feel free to go crazy. But if, like me, decorations aren’t your thing, I promise no one will mind if the only thing on your wall is the flag of your favorite football team and the rest of your standard household artwork.
See the end of this post for where I bought decor for this party!
4) If kids are invited, have an entertainment option for them
One party when the weather was still good, we had an adult supervised blow up pool. Another party, we had disney movies on one TV, while everyone else watched football in a different room. One party, a couple moms who didn’t even know each other brought games for their kids, so that helped the kids play together. If you have kids, this is probably easy. If you don’t, at least have something available to keep the kids busy. The parents will appreciate it.
If you’re looking for an easy game that lots of people can play, I referenced this post by Stephanie a lot during football season last year, and I’m sure I will this season too.
5) Find out a theme of your local team and throw it in for good luck.
I am not a Seahawks fan, but I like throwing a good party. When the game starts going south, people get bummed out. And if your team loses, be prepared for people to file out the door as soon as the clock hits 00:00. There used to be a player on the Seahawks who ate a lot of skittles. When I first moved to Western WA, every game watch I went to had skittles at it. One super bowl party even had skittles martinis that were so good I had to get a ride home and go back and get my car the next day. There have been a couple games in the last few years where I handed out skittles as “good luck.”
I would NEVER hand out good luck treats if they were playing the Cowboys or about to screw up a playoff run that the cowboys were on. I’d rather have a bad party than that. But when it doesn’t matter, or they’re facing the Giants, skittles for everyone! That player is no longer on the Seahawks, so I guess we’ll see what the next featured token of good luck will be.
Likewise, if the team wins, be prepared for people to hang around your house to watch the next games, eat more food and even play cards or just hangout outside. Everyone loves when their team wins and we’ve had football game watch parties start at 9:45 AM and end with friends/family sleeping on the couch. We love it!
6) Keep an eye on food that needs to be refrigerated or occasionally warmed up.
Because football games are hours long, you’ll want to keep an eye on the food. If you had a taco bar, and someone brought sour cream, check on it. If you have a chips and dip section, watch the temp of the salsa and dips. Consider crock pots and little dippers for ingredients you’ll want to keep warm like taco meat or pulled pork.
This weekend, J made smoked chicken. It was INCREDIBLE. He claims it’s just luck, but smoking chicken without drying it out is totally a skill.
In the same vein, make sure your food is easily accessible, and set boundaries for where it’s allowed. J doesn’t like food on his carpet, so if people are snacking, it’s probably OK in the living room. But if they’re eating chili, a few reminders are necessary to watch on a different TV with hardwood floors or concrete around it. Of course, I am terrible at following this rule, so I’m a bad example to our guests. But to avoid any problems in front of your company, make sure you and your fellow hosts are on the same page about where food is allowed and who is going to keep an eye on the food temps.
7) Try to have your chargers handy
People will be watching their fantasy football scores, or checking stats from other games. If you and your friends/family all have iPhones or all have androids, keep those charges handy (like I’ve told you before, I love the 6′ Amazon Basics charging cables). It’s also a good idea to have charging blocks, that way people who have their own cords in their cars can bring them inside and plug them in.
8) Relax and have fun!!!
I think my favorite thing about game-watch parties is that they’re so relaxing! Once the food is done, or in the crockpot where it can take care of itself, and you’ve let everyone inside, your work is done. It’s not a cocktail mixer where you’re introducing everyone. It’s not a birthday party where you’re thinking about photos and drinks and piñatas and when to open presents. The entertainment is the game and as long as your satellite dish doesn’t get covered in snow, the TV takes care of the rest.
Game-watches are so casual that as long as everyone knows where the food, utensils, plates and beverages are kept, you’ll only have to stand up to remind people where the bathrooms are, check on the food temps, and refill your beverage. Easy peasy!
9) Wait until after the game is over to clean up
Remember what I said about game watches being casual? No one is going to judge you for having a glass or two in the sink.
You don’t want to miss the game winning field goal or quality time with your friends and family. Clean up after everyone leaves, turn the dishwasher on, and go to bed. This is especially easy if you have someone bring disposable supplies and if you use crockpot liners (my FAVORITE cooking accessory). It’s hard, even for me, to follow this rule. But you’ll be glad you did.
Where to buy: Table cloth & mini football helmets were from the dollar store. $2 total for decorations! The flowers were from the grocery store. It was hard for me to buy them, but since all but two people coming to our party (one being me) were Seahawks fans, they fit. They were $5.99.
The white dishes are all from TJ Maxx/Marshall’s/HomeGoods. I bought all but the veggie/chip and dip tray for Thanksgiving between TJ Maxx and Marshall’s. Two weekends ago, I found the matching dish at HomeGoods. It was the most expensive of them all at $12.99. The rest ranged from $6.99 to $9.99. The clear chip bowl is from IKEA. The dip bowls were from Target, on clearance, for $1.98. They still sell these, just in different colors. Everything else you see was brought by someone else. Pro Tip: If you’re buying a set of something, and a piece or two is missing, check out the other stores under the TJ Maxx umbrella. I was so surprised after finding the dishes at Marshall’s, that when I was at a TJ Maxx across town, they had more to match the set. And then at Home Goods two weeks ago I felt like I’d hit the jackpot. So awesome!
To make use of my pretty dishes, I put out multiple dishes. I put some food on some of them (veggies, and bread), and left the rest empty. When people showed up they either left their food in the dish they brought, put their own food on an empty dish, or I did it after they walked away. You do not have to have pretty serving dishes. Until Thanksgiving last year, I didn’t have them. But now that I do, I love any excuse to use them!
What’s your favorite food to bring to or serve at a game watch party? I’ll include them in a future post!