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Tis the Season! For Football Parties

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Tis the Season! For Football

Football season is up and running.  Literally!  With college games beginning before the NFL Season and running until Feb 3, 2019, ending with the Super Bowl, the football hostess has essentially 5 months of the year in which to hone her hors-d’oeuvre and snack talents.  Fortunately, other snacking events occur during the interim – Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and yes, Valentine’s Day and provide an opportunity to reuse and refine recipes. Tis the season! So for the smart hostess, the effort invested in preparing and serving delicious one bite morsels and savory entrees is not wasted.

  • Defining the Favorites

Where I live in the South, football party food may just be more important than the game itself. From chips to dips to desserts whether you roll with the Saints or cheer for the Patriots, there’s a football party food sure to please.  The savvy hostess will try to avoid the quintessential party mistake of serving the entire menu at once.  I suggest dividing your offerings into quarterly serving to make serving and cleanup a breeze. And if tailgating is your game, then we’ll line some delightful dishes if you’re rooting “Geaux Tigers” or rolling with the Tide in our next blog.Football Party Food

Hot wings (those tasty little bites of chicken smothered in just the right sauce) is probably the #1 football party food followed closely by sausages (plain, smothered in cheese and onions or BBQ sauce) in a hoagie roll or a simpler meaty slider.  Of course, chips and drinks to accompany are a given.  Chili, gumbo, pizza, meatballs and nachos (with sour cream and guacamole of course) round out the top picks. Pork ribs are normally reserved for special championship games and the Super Bowl since they are more difficult to prepare, expensive, and a bit harder to eat without a mess.

Shortcut Ideas

Knowing that not every football hostess has the time, inclination or cooking skills to pull of a completely homemade spread, I thought we’d begin with the simplest solutions to hosting a football party.

  • Get it Fresh

Supermarkets are great sources for already prepared party trays.  Make your choices from vegetable or fruit trays (even combo trays), sandwich trays (be sure to order fresh the day before), cheese trays, salsas, dips, and deli-prepared hors-d’oeuvres.  Place the foods on your own platters and voila!  A fresh layout to serve in the first quarter of the game.

  • Check the Frozen Food Aisle

Frozen Foods and Deli AisleAlthough we may enjoy heaping platters of wings and piles of cheesy nachos, we may find ourselves suddenly serving to a crowd for whom we have no time to prepare a game worthy spread.  Luckily for us, the frozen food aisle of our local grocery is home to snacks, dips, wings, and more as well as take a fraction of the time to prepare and taste just as great.  With national restaurant brands you’ve come to know and love, it’s a good bet they’ll be easy to choose, to prepare and delicious to serve.  Having them at the ready in the freezer makes for less stress should a crowd unexpectedly appear ready to cheer on your favorite team!

  • Prepare Ahead
    Nothing like planning ahead – effortlessly.  Let’s say chili (or in the South – gumbo) is on the family’s menu this week;  why not make an extra pot or two of this game day staple and freeze it for when it’s needed?  Other freezable entrees include mini meatballs (make extra when serving family spaghetti),  enchiladas – vegetable or beef – freeze quite well as does taco meat filling and are a delicious second quarter offering.  If you miss serving them for the game, then dinner another night is quickly prepared!

If you are diehard DIY hostess, the internet has a plethora of recipes for you to try – who knows?  You may be voted the “hostess with the mostest” and next year you’ll be hosting all of the parties!  One of my favorite sites for game time recipes is https://www.browneyedbaker.com/80-football-food-recipes.

Football Party – Pulling it Off

  • Plan Menu in Stages

Thinking that you’ll lay out the entire menu on the table at game time to save yourself time and energy is a mistake.  Think of the game as occurring in stages.  For the first quarter, serve lighter offerings of fruits, vegetables, cheeses or chilled mini bites with small portions of chips and/or dips.  Serve only finger foods on small paper plates with napkins and try to avoid the use of utensils for eating at this point.  It may also be wise to avoid serving drinks in paper cups since once they’re put down, the owner’s identity is suspect.  Instead, try individually distinctive glassware that will last the evening and can be easily identified.Plan Menu in Stages

For the second quarter, you may wish to lay out small sandwiches or meatballs and freshen up the chips and dip.  Again, avoiding the use of utensils.  Tidy up remaining fruits, veggies and cheeses for lunch use during the week.

At half-time,  bring on the hot foods – chicken wings, chili, gumbo, sausages, pizza, and nachos.  If you’re going to stick with a no-utensil menu, choose accordingly but supply plenty of paper towels or napkins.  Bag up the sandwiches and mini meatballs and refrigerate for later use.

By the end of halftime, you should begin seeing light at the end of the tunnel.  Clear up the debris from the heavy portions, bag trash, and reserve any leftovers.  Wipe up the countertop and bring out the finger-sized desserts.  Cookies (deli-bought if necessary), small cuts of a sheet cake decorated in the team’s colors, and cheesecake squares are all easy sweet treats to end the meal.  Start brewing coffee for those who may need a few sobering moments before heading home.

By the time the game has concluded,  the majority of your serving and kitchen cleaning will be over and you will have enjoyed preparing and hosting your football party.  Of course, there’s bound to be an extra hand or two in the kitchen and that makes it all the merrier.

  • Enough SeatingPulling Off a Great Party

If the purpose of getting together for a football game is to sit and watch the game, it is essential to have adequate seating.  Take time the day before the event to arrange furniture, bring extra chairs, pillows or stools so that everyone can have a place to sit during the game – hopefully, keeping them from standing around in the kitchen eating and watching the game while standing.  Not having all your guests underfoot in the kitchen while you’re trying to serve is a real attitude maker or breaker!  And a happy hostess makes for a satisfied guest!

Enjoying the Game

Elevate your mood. So often, whether you enjoy your own party depends on the way you prepare for it mentally. If you dread what’s coming and fret anxiously about the menu, the venue or whether anyone will like what you’ve prepared, chances are that you won’t have much fun. Be sure to invite at least one of your own friends as a companion and helper.

Wear something comfortable.  Decide in advance what you will wear and assure that you have comfortable shoes.  Chances are pretty good that you’ll be on your feet most of the game.

Plan rest periods.  Being a hostess does not mean relegating yourself to the servant mode for the entire game.  Menu planning and organization will go a long way toward allowing you to plan opportunities to engage with the game and sit, rest and interact with your guests.

So game on!  Tis the season!  Enjoy!

10 thoughts on “Tis the Season! For Football Parties

  1. Being from Texas and a big Dallas Cowboys and Notre Dame Fighting Irish fan, I can second you in saying that football watching parties are huge! It’s actually pretty crazy how creative some hostesses are able to get sometime when it comes to the dishes being served. Great food definitely makes the games more fun to watch.

    1. Hey fellow football fan!  Isn’t football just the bomb?  You are fortunate to apparently have the benefit of many hostesses – how great!  Hostesses often find themselves competing to surpass their contemporaries – and when that happens – everyone benefits!  Here’s to a great season of watching and eating!

  2. I must say that I don’t know the person who don’t like the football  and the party which come with it. What I like the most is that it is a chance to be with family and friends and enjoy with them. Food is also important and I like to prepare recipes that my family likes to eat. Thank you for this interesting article.

    1. Hey Daniel!  So glad you found my article interesting and hopefully helpful to you and the host/hostess.  You are so right that it’s a chance to enjoy family and friends with food as the medium!   Bon appetit!

  3. I am definitely not the person whose picture would show up in the dictionary beside the definition of a gracious host. One of the recommendations that you made was just for me, getting it fresh. I live in central Florida and the most popular grocery store in the area is Publix. A football party for me means heading to Publix not for the ingredients but for the purpose of acquiring EVERYTHING on the party menu done for me. The only exception to this is in the case of a small party in which it becomes the perfect time to break out the grill. As soon as I read the word “shortcut”, you had my attention!

    1. Hey Sherman!  Shortcut doesn’t mean downcut! And those of us savvy enough to turn a shortcut into a spectacular offering have discovered the secret of easy entertaining and … hence, enjoying our own party!  The days of working all week and coming home to host a weekly weekend party are daunting;  without these shortcuts, the task would probably be impossible.  After all, I love recreating and “improving” a base template – it’s sooooo much easier than “reinventing the wheel”!

  4. It’s really fun watching football, especially when hosted by a specialist hostess. It’s a great opportunity to release stress, while you have fun with your friends, watch your favorite sport, party while you watch, really an event to look forward to.

    You clearly outlined the various stages during which food has to be served, and I wish those great hostesses out there find this blog. You really provided some great advice for a hostess, and I especially love the first advice, which is a psychological preparation

    This was such an informative post. I enjoyed the read.

    1. Thanks for reading my article and commenting.  To me the psychological preparation is almost, if not THE,  first priorty to accomplishing any task – especially if there a  repeat performance several weeks in a row!  Hopefully, your comments will reach some of those great hostesses and they’ll find benefit from the read! 

  5. Hey Sharon:

    I have to confess.  I am not a football fan.  

    However, I am surrounded by a large number of them who like to gather ’round to cheer on their favorite teams.  And like you Southerners, very little is more important to a Hawaiian than the food to be had either at the tailgate parties or at home.  

    It doesn’t seem to matter whether it’s a high school game, or the university league or professional games.  I know passions run high and all that, but as a cook who gets a kick out of people who like to eat, I also think the food has a lot to do with the whole experience.

    The game progresses and good friends can spend heck of a lot of time chewing on food, cheering and jeering, chewing the fat and generally having a grand old time.

    My joy (and the joy of every other cook in our circle) has been feeding the football mob.  The potlucks those of us who are into cooking have put together for the tailgate parties have been a heck of a lot of fun.   (We are fortunate to have a couple of ladies who can organize the heck out of anything.  I’m just a minion and take my orders like everybody else.)

    I am especially taken by your idea of timing the menu for an at-home party according to the game quarters.  That is such a fabulous plan!  Having the time to get each course out there and the detritus cleared up as the game progresses means not having to face that stack of dirty dishes after a whole evening of excitement.  

    I am seeing the light at the end of that tunnel, girl!

    Thanks!   

    1. Thanks so much for your commenting…and yes, there are plenty of non-enthusiasts out there who fortunately do the cooking, cleaning and organizing of a truly great party!  If only the fans knew how much fun can be had in the kitchen as well.  Cleaning as you go is my motto whether it’s a party or a simple meal.  Everyone is pretty much exhausted at the end of the event.  The last thing ANYONE wants to do is clean up!

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