Our Very Best Game-Day Entertaining Ideas


Football, food, and friends are the triple threat of any great game-day party. Start with those three, add a few on-theme details from this collection, and you'll take a humble gathering all the way to the party hosting hall of fame.

First and foremost, make sure you can actually broadcast the game! It's one of those reminders that should seemingly go without saying, but in this dizzying age of streaming, cord cutting, and cable packages, you need to confirm that you'll be able to put the game on before you invite family and friends over.

Once you have that all-important task checked off, turn your focus on to the great unifier of game-day parties: the food! Keep reading for tips on how to serve dinner to a crowd during a watch party, what you should plan to make ahead, and our most fun football-themed food and garnishes. The food at game-day parties is typically set out over a few hours so guests can grab and graze when they're feeling hungry; in addition to recipes, we've included advice for what to serve so the food stays hot (and the guests stay happy).

Maybe you like to take your parties on the road? Tailgating is a time-honored tradition, but it makes hosting a little more complicated since you'll have to take everything on the road. One important note? Consider including a fun activity for the less enthusiastic football fans who are tagging along. Football-themed crafts or coloring can be a great way to keep folks occupied who aren't interested in watching the game.

No matter what team your guests are rooting for, with these ten tips for hosting a great game-day party, everyone will come out a winner!

01 of 10

Be "Coach" and Make a Game Plan

football on field
Winslow Productions / Getty Images

Your party will benefit greatly from a game plan, especially when it comes to the food. Peruse our collection of popular game-day snacks and pick out a few recipes that catch your eye.

02 of 10

Let Guests Customize their Meal

easy beef chili with sour cream in bowl

Plan an entrée that won't need much babysitting, like a chili you can set out in a crock pot; this is an easy way to ensure the meal stays warm, too. Turn it into a "chili bar" and set out a few different ways that people can make it their own: nachos, hot dogs, and baked potatoes are all good options.

03 of 10

Score Big with Signature Cocktails

watermelon-lime-mint cooler cocktail
Linda Xiao

Customize different cocktails—one for each team—that reflect their colors. Either choose drinks that naturally have the correct shade, like our Watermelon-Lime-Mint Cooler for teams with red uniforms, or go with food coloring or garnishes.

04 of 10

Take Stock of Your Equipment

pint glasses anthropologie
Courtesy of Anthropologie

From bowls made especially for chips-and-dip to coasters to slide under pint glasses, make sure you have the necessary equipment handy for game-day entertaining.

05 of 10

Get Ahead with Make-Ahead


Having the home team advantage is a huge perk—favorite recipes can be made ahead, like our Pigs in a Blanket, or prepped ahead and cooked just before the game starts, like the Meatball Parmigiana Sliders you see here. Check out our make-ahead game-day recipes for more ideas so you can watch the game instead of being in the kitchen.

06 of 10

Don't Forget to Mix It Up

marthas classic guacamole
Chelsea Cavanaugh

When planning your menu, consider serving some lighter game-day foods to counterbalance the heaviness of classic dishes like nachos and pizza.

07 of 10

Tailgate Like a Pro

Friends putting condiments on burgers during party
Thomas Barwick / Getty Images

If you're taking the party to the stadium this year, read this informative article on how to host a great tailgating party. And when you're done, head to this gallery of our favorite tailgating recipes.

08 of 10

Get Into Shape

grasshopper football cake
Mikkel Vang

Football shape, that is. Football-shaped foods add a whimsical element to a game day spread. Pigs in a Blanket naturally come out looking like little footballs, while this recipe for Grasshopper Cake has you create little footballs out of mint chocolate.

09 of 10

Score a Touchdown with Great Dips

Johnny Fogg

Win big at the condiments game by following this essential guide to all things sauces, pickles, and dips.

10 of 10

Show Team Spirit


Following the team's colors as a guide, get crafty by making festive pom poms to decorate the living room. Another way to show team spirit is to have guests personalize their drinking cups—set up a station near the entrance and encourage your guests to get creative.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles