When the best two professional football teams square off at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas on Feb. 6, party goers in parking lots and homes across the United States will expect their hosts to put on the ultimate football party. Last year’s New Orleans Saints vs. Indiannapolis Colts game had a record breaking audience of more than 106 million viewers, and this year’s big game is bound to have just as many people gathering to watch. But watching the game is only part of the fun. It’s the food, the camaraderie and fun that needs to measure up with fans to truly make it the biggest football party of the year.
Joe Cahn, widely known as the Commissioner of Tailgating, has spent 14 years on the road, tailgating with football fans across the country. “Oh, I love a great football party – the fans in team colors, the grills smokin’ and the good times for all.”
This season, Joe is sharing his party tips and watching tailgating teams compete for a spot in the Bing National Tailgating Championship (www.bingfootball.com) in Fort Worth, Texas on Feb. 3. Cahn is overseeing the final competition, which will decide the nation’s top tailgating team, and will offer his top 10 football party planning tips to ensure a fantastic game day for all football fans.
1. Show team pride. Your local fabric store can be a great resource for finding a budget-friendly way to display your team’s colors and set the tone for your party. A few yards of fabric can easily become a table cloth or a flag signaling to your guests they’re at the right address.
2. Four quarters to feast. Your party is going to be an all-day event – like a Texas-style rodeo. Don’t plan anything formal. Instead offer items that allow people to graze while they’re standing, cheering and chatting before, during and after the game. And don’t forget to recycle at all times during the event.
Go online to find recipes for the fixings that will keep your guests wanting more. Go to Bing.com, and search for football party food like “buffalo wings” or “chili.” You’ll find recipes, photos and nutritional facts in an instant to help finalize party menus.
3. Corral the grub. By keeping the food in a separate room from the TV, guests won’t inadvertently block someone’s view of the action. Placing the food in another room also allows people who may want a break from the game to socialize without distracting hard core fans. And if the favorite team isn’t playing so well, it also serves as a place to escape and nurse broken hearts.
4. Hydrate the hootin’ and hollerin’. Have plenty of ice and water on hand. Yes, water is an “adult” beverage and should be readily available to your guests to keep them going.
5. Bring the party to people who can’t make it. Encourage people to use their cell phones to capture video and photos that can be uploaded to Facebook to keep the party with other friends online.
6. Prepare a take-home menu. Create a menu that people can take home to remind them of the great food prepared. Break it up into quarters – what was served 1st quarter, 2nd quarter, etc. – and leave some room for people to jot notes. Be creative and make it feel like a game program and something that your guests will enjoy looking at long after the game is over.
7. Know the game. Make sure you’re up to speed on the game’s most decisive players. Prep in advance and compare sports stats on the game’s opposing players – helping you to secure information to help you win any friendly debate. Just go to Bing and search for “player x vs. player y” to get informed and impress everyone with your game day knowledge.
8. Safety first. If there’s drinking involved, always make sure there are designated drivers among your guests or help schedule cab rides.
9. Take care of your host. This tip is actually for the guest – make a party MVP ball. Buy an official game ball, grab a couple of markers and ask everyone at the party to sign it. Then, present it to your host at the end of the game with a “Most Valuable Party Thrower” award. He or she will greatly appreciate it and have something to remember their role in making game day history.
10. Football is a team sport – Just because you’re a guest, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t chip in and help. Play offense and assist in set up and serving food or hold off for defense and handle clean up duties after the game. Also, feel free to contribute one of your football party specialties – just remember to give the host the heads up to make sure you’re not doubling up on anything.
Check out www.bingfootball.com to follow the action in the Bing National Tailgating Championship and get some additional ideas and inspiration from the best tailgating teams in the country.