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Tailgate at home for the big game

A diagonal row of hot dogs next to carrots, nachos, and other small dishes on a green and white tablecloth

The grand finale of the football season is upon us once more, and your home may soon be filled with friends and family ready to watch the big game. Tailgating at home can seem like a heavy lift, but handling these key tasks before guests arrive can make them more self-sufficient and comfortable during their visit. Use these tips to host a watch party your guests won’t soon forget.

Feed guests easily with these tips for serving party food

Food is one of the biggest draws of any tailgate. Apply these tips to your food setup to make serving up your delectable party food run more smoothly.

If you’re going the potluck route, be sure to have enough outlets and counter space for everyone’s crockpots and casserole pans. Also, have extra bowls and serving utensils ready in case your guests don’t bring them.

If you know some of your guests have allergies or non-standard diets, be sure to have an allergen-free/dietary restriction-friendly area, or clearly label food made with ingredients they won’t be able to eat.

Pro Tip: Space out fan favorites to prevent bottlenecks at your serving station, and clearly mark your trash and recycling so pizza crusts don’t end up mixed in with pop bottles.

3 2-liters of pop (Left to right: orange, lime green, and dark brown) sit in a metal bucket loaded with ice

 

Organize your drink station to keep your guests well-hydrated

Your guests will need beverages to wash down all that delicious party food. Make it easy for them by keeping your drink station stocked and well-organized to quench your guests’ thirst. By using the following tips, you can avoid any mix-ups or multiple half-finished bottles of the same drink at the end of the night:

  • Put out one bottle of each type of juice or soft drink at a time
  • Keep backups nearby and chilled so they’ll be ready at a moment’s notice
  • Properly label all drinks, especially if children will be present
  •  Liquidate your inventory—send guests home with leftover drinks at the end of the night
  • As every hosting veteran knows, don’t forget the ice! Stock up at least a day in advance to dodge an ice shortage.

Pro Tip: At the end of the night, tally up what was consumed to know which food and drink to serve next time.

Give everyone a good view with a pre-planned seating arrangement

One of the trickiest parts of tailgating at home is figuring out your seating arrangement. A guest with nowhere to sit may not stay for long. Our seating guidelines give you tried-and-true methods for making sure your guests are comfortable:

  • Test your chairs before game day to know how many you can use
  • Ask guests to bring chairs if you need a few extra
  • Arrange them the night before so guests know where to fill in any chairs they may bring
  • If applicable, have small children share a seat 
A pair of light-skinned hands covered in suds gets washed under a silver faucet

 

Be prepared with guest bathroom essentials

Stocking your guest bathroom with essentials is a crucial part of giving your home a deep clean before game day. Take these steps to make sure you’re not grabbing toilet paper (t.p.) during the game-winning play:

  • Fill your soap dispenser, and keep a refill jug under the sink
  • Store extra rolls of toilet paper on a holder or in the bathroom cupboard
  • Make sure your bathroom has a clean, sturdy plunger
  • Light a scented candle shortly before guests arrive, or get a plug-in going the night before

Pro Tip: Accidents happen, and sometimes, we end up with more guests than expected. Keep your backups on or near the path from the game to the bathroom. If you have to take a timeout to fix or replace something, you won’t want to go far to get to it.

3 White men (2 in football jerseys, 1 in a letterman jacket, all wearing eye black) celebrate in a living room as confetti falls

 

Show your team spirit!

Game day is not complete without team spirit, and there are plenty of ways to show your support for your favorite team! You can purchase branded merchandise, such as custom jerseys, couch covers, napkins, soap dispensers, online or in  stores to make your at-home tailgate party something everyone remembers.

Pro Tip: Not everything has to bear the team logo. For more cost-effective ways to show your team spirit, visit your local grocery or dollar store to find trinkets and supplies that help you rep your favorite team. Feel free to get creative and set an ambience that relates to your team’s mascot, like the following:

  • Rams: Host a scrumptious feast of St. Louis-style barbecue, and pay homage to ram’s horns with cream horns or cinnamon rolls for dessert. Bonus points for yellow or blue filling or icing!
  • Bengals: Hold a delicious chili cook-off or offer it a few different ways. For dessert, make dark chocolate buckeyes, or drizzle orange icing over chocolate sandwich cookies!

Whether you’re an at-home tailgate party veteran or this is your first time having people over to watch the big game, the only win bigger than a successful Hail Mary by your favorite team is hosting a tailgate at home that is enjoyable for all.