How to Plan a Party for the Big Championship Game Football parties are an American tradition – since 1967 we’ve been coming together in the name *A Certain Big Game to celebrate friendship, fandom and food…. especially food! Football Championship Sunday has become one of America’s most gluttonous “holidays”. It even rivals Thanksgiving for the amount we consume in a single day.
But forget the tablecloths and fancy dishes. Game day is about getting right to the good stuff. Remember these MVP’s when planning your football season finale celebration, and you’ll be sure to score.
*Due to very tight copyright advertising/NFL rules, the name of the annual championship game between the NFL’s AFC & NFC, the word for the event isn’t allowed to be associated with non-advertising third parties such as ourselves. We can call it “The Big Game”, the “Superb Owl” (thanks, Stephen Colbert) and “football championship game.”
Keep Your Eye on the Ball
No matter who you’ve invited, the most important guest at your Superb Owl Party is the game.
- When arranging your party space, make sure the television is front and center, away from the flow of traffic between food, seating, bathrooms, and exits. Keep the huddling on the sidelines!
- If you can, draft extra TVs and set up more than one viewing station. How about one room for guests who like to snack and gab, and another for those who don’t want anything to distract them from the game?
- Speaking of distractions; the littlest sports fans can cause big interruptions (cute as they may be in their mini team jersey). Keep kids away from where food is being prepped, and give them a place to play out of the way from the main event.
- Children may be precious, but your Football Finale spread shouldn’t be. Plan party foods that are low fuss, low muss: think chips and dip, sandwiches, stuff you can chow down on from a sofa, or carry around.
- Don’t get shut out! It’s easy to miss all the action when you’re stuck in the kitchen or serving up drinks to order. Prep ahead as much as you can. Make hot dishes or pasta salad the night before, fill some pitchers with pre-mixed cocktails, lineup contributions from guests like fruit platters or cold cuts – or order in! Anything you don’t have to prepare yourself means more face time between you and the game.
Prep Easy, Eat Hard
Super Football Championship food should be easy to make and suitable for a paper plate, but it doesn’t have to be boring! Here are some tips for planning a winning menu:
- If you’re going to order in, order early! This particular Sunday is *the* biggest delivery day of the year. Same goes for any catering trays or party platters you had in mind – don’t wait, or you may find yourself empty-handed in a den of ravenous football fanatics.
- Start with the classics: pizza, nachos, chicken wings, chili – these are the dishes we expect and crave, and This Certain Sunday wouldn’t be the same without them. But you’ll need to mix it up a bit if you want to throw a party that’s as memorable as the big game.
- For the more adventurous fans and foodies on your guest list, try a little exotic fare. Offer a variety of spreadable options like baba ganoush (a smoky eggplant dish), herbaceous green goddess dip, curries, chutneys, or fancy-pants cheeses alongside the traditional ranch dressing, salsa, or guacamole.
- Put out a selection of dippers, too. Crackers and tortilla chips are great, but have you ever tasted sweet potato, lentil, or plantain chips? How about pork rinds? Or pre-slice a loaf of crusty bread (French or Italian work well), paint it with butter or oil, and warm it in the oven until toasted. Serve with hummus or bruschetta toppings such as marinated tomato, garlic and basil.
- Do you know what cooks fast, tastes amazing, and is sure to impress? Seafood! Get your local fishmonger to steam you a pound or two of shrimp, pick up a sushi platter, or throw some bacon-wrapped scallops under the broiler right before kickoff. That’s a taste touchdown right there.
- As much as we love the high-fat and salty stuff, studies show that fresh veggies are at the top of America’s Football Party snack list. Go for baby carrots, celery sticks, maybe some sliced cucumber, chopped broccoli crowns, cauliflower or bite-sized peppers. Not only are vegetables a cool contrast to all the hot and savory foods, they also offer a healthy alternative for kiddos and guests with dietary restrictions.
- You can’t go wrong with fruit, either. An arrangement of berries and sliced fruit or fruit salad is perfect as a side dish or dessert! Add a sweet dip or whipped topping for an extra special treat.
Whatever is on your game day menu, please eat and drink responsibly. Remember that foods left out for more than two hours are in the bacteria “red zone” and should be tossed. Keep an eye out for over-enthusiastic drinkers and inclement weather, and make arrangements for your guests accordingly. Most of all, have fun! And may the best menu – er, team – win.