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The days are getting shorter, the geese are heading south, and flat green fields across the country are beginning to pulse and hum in anticipation of stomping feet and cheering crowds. It’s football season, baby! Can you tell I did theater in high school?
There’s no better way to honor the age-old tradition of watching sports with your buds than with a football-watching party just as thrilling as the game. To help you get started, here’s everything you’ll need to throw a killer pig skin party.
While no one shows up to a football party expecting a four-course meal, hitting hungry guests with snacks a tad higher than their expectations always pays off. Totino's Pizza Rolls (or MorningStar Farm for the vegans) are your party standard and always will be. To take them to the next level, throw them in the air fryer with a bag of tater tots for a beige combo plate that technically gives you fruits, vegetables, and starches all at once. Remember to give them a shake every few minutes to ensure maximum crispness.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to accessorize using the many facets of your culinary skills — think tortilla chips, a half-dozen assorted salsas, and the *molto bene* Italian meats.
End Zone Entreés
I always advocate for a build-your-own taco setup to avoid spending the whole party catering to guests. It allows your friends to prep their plates how they like. Plus, people love a table full of treats. Then all you need is Spanish rice, pinto beans, and a heaping jar of jalapeños to get rolling.
It’s never a bad idea to make totchos, aka nachos meets tater tots. Think of your totcho as a vehicle for toppings. Pile with pulled pork, shredded cheddar, black beans, corn, sour cream, and chopped scallions.
(Also: Keep in mind there is no shame in not cooking and ordering a Taco Bell Supreme Variety Taco Party Pack instead.)
The Grill That Never Lets You Down
If you feel so bold, go the route of the beer can chicken for perfectly cooked birds that combine two beloved supermarket staples in one. If that’s not your style, there’s always something about watching football that makes me lust for Chili’s Baby Back Ribs, either ordered in or DIY.
Here’s how I get it done: I put a rack of beef ribs rubbed with brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, and mustard powder in my smoker lit up with pure acacia hardwood charcoal. For burnt wood, it’s pricey, but you can’t beat that rich, smoky barbecue flavor. Throw the rack on in the wee hours of the morning and enjoy fall-off-the-bone, smoke-infused meat by kickoff. Eight hours should do it. Add as much Rufus Teague sauce as necessary, and remember that pain is just weakness leaving the body.
Half-Time Palate Cleansers
Adulthood looks very different once you’re in the thick of things. Never in a million years did I think I’d be the one bullying my friends and family for not drinking water, but here we are. Hydrate your homies, homies; keep ice-cold filtered water in the fridge, add in ample seltzer cans, load up on non-alc drinks, and watch the wonders of hydration take shape.
Consider the liquor cabinet: a hallmark of human civilization specifically invented to get party guests talking about their host’s exquisite taste. How you share your bottles is up to you; just make sure you mix with style and always offer ice. Ice is so hot right now.
Now, consider the punch bowl: another objectively perfect, dual-function invention that unites the people and gets ’em in the watch-party mood. Here’s what you need for a punch that packs a punch:
1 handle of your favorite vodka
1 liter Hawaiian Punch
1 46-oz can of pineapple juice
1 liter ginger ale
In a perfect world, you’d be friends with pristine eaters and clean guests who’ve earned nicknames like “The Dishwasher” and “Scrub Daddy” from their party manners. Alas, we’re in the real world where messes are as pervasive a part of society as Takis dust.
Solution? Paper plates, disposable cups, team-branded koozies (find ’em at Dick’s Sporting Goods), and trash bags are all essential. You can even get a funny little robot vacuum for crumb control. We have one at home and had to stop calling it “Kyle” because it made my daughter think he’s alive.
Some Smart Add-Ons
Keep it simple! String up the gold party tinsel, break out the foam fingers, and don’t forget the fitted football field table cover. It’s party time.
If people are expected to get rowdy, consider taking some steps to ensure you don’t spend the night on your hands and knees washing mud from your carpet. Break out the shoe rack, set up extra seating, holster all-purpose spray to your belt loop, and consider a machine-washable rug for stress management.
Keep these under-the-radar party essentials on hand for the unexpected:
Disposable wipes for cheese-crusted fingertips
A cheap serving tray
At least two vegan alternatives
Tiny cocktail umbrellas (drinks taste better when adorned with an umbrella)
Lawn or beach chairs
A Polaroid or disposable camera
More water than you think (once again, hydration is king!)