The great thing about hosting a football party is that the food doesn't have to be complicated. People like easy-to-eat, snack-able foods while watching the game, and they like to nosh throughout the event. I like to start out the first half serving finger foods for people to snack on, then during halftime you can pull out the main meal and reinvigorate the crowd. Here are some tips to plan a menu that people will enjoy while also allowing you to watch the game and socialize, too.
1. Start out with tasty snack foods when guests arrive. Foods that can be prepared ahead of time, hold up well at room temperature, and don't need to be replenished often work best, like chips and dip.
2. It's not really a football party if there isn't some kind of bar food available, such as chicken wings or poppers. The great thing is they can be prepared earlier in the day, and then warmed up on a sheet pan as the party gets underway and easily transferred to a serving dish in the matter of minutes. And they are still just as delicious once they cool to room temperature.
3. I love a good chili bar for home football parties. Chili can be made a day or two before and easily kept warm on the stove during the party. Make two varieties — one meat and one vegetarian option is perfect for pleasing all tastes. Then, prepare toppings and put these in small bowls in the fridge before the party. When it's time to serve the chili, the toppings can easily be unwrapped and set on the counter for guests to serve themselves. Sour cream, shredded cheese, chopped onions, and fresh cilantro are just some of the tasty toppings that will help make a meal. The same idea can be applied to taco bars, or a sandwich bar with pulled pork, or sloppy joes.
4. Make a few sides that can be made the day before, then stored in serving bowls in the fridge until it's time to eat, like creamy potato salad, bowtie pasta salad, or broccoli salad.
5. Always remember to make a healthy dish. Your guests will appreciate having the option to eat lighter foods. Vegetable dishes, a fresh salad with dressing on the side, or simple poached shrimp (if the budget allows) will help round out the meal.
Emily Wilson, Cooking Planit