Are you ready for some football?
Ahhh… it’s that time of year again. The weather outside, well, basically sucks for an estimated 75% of us, and is getting colder and nastier with each passing weekend. Every Sunday, however, from September to February, those of us not sitting in stadiums will make huddles in warm houses all across this great motherland from sea to shining sea.
Houses jolting off their foundations as men and recliners collide to the play-by-play action of the NFL. It’s football season! Mmmm… smell the popcorn popping in the microwave. Hear the crackle of potato chips under foot. Tweet! Who fumbled the chip bowl? Or was it pass interference? Maybe illegal use of hands?
Feel the tension in the air as the excitement mounts. Will our favorite team make it all the way to the big game, or be eliminated in the playoffs? A hundred thousand nerves are on pins and needles with anticipation.
If we wives have not retreated to the mall in desperation, we’ve probably rolled up our sleeves, put on our gear, and tackled the season like a girl – from the kitchen…counting down the days to the big game with the workhorse determination of a defensive lineman; tackling the holidays one by one on first downs as football season charges through. We hit Halloween low, take Thanksgiving off sides, sack Christmas in the end zone, and before we know it, we’ve got the playoff season at the goal line. Will we run in for a touchdown or kick a field goal with our party?
Believe it or not, I actually enjoy football season. I like the sounds of it from the other room as I’m folding laundry or baking. I get a kick out of my husband’s antics and wild displays of emotion. No matter how far to the outer recesses of our dwelling I may go to escape it, the yelling rings in my ears as “moron” refs make bad calls, and “idiot” players fail to do their best. “C’mon ref! Oh… WHAT WAS THAT ? YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING ME [insert player’s name here]! Jeeminy Krismas (only it’s not ‘jeeminy Krismas,’), not another interception!!!”
From the kitchen to the laundry room and even the garage I can pick up on the tone of the game by the shouting in the next room. Add to that the sounds of muscle bound, sweaty men in heavy armor crashing into each other like a pile up on the freeway. Whistles blowing. Huddle chat. Hollering from the coach. And, of course the play-by-play from the guys in the booth.
Whether I am having a houseful or its just hubby, kids, and me, we have a Super Bowl party every year — complete with food, decorations, and beverages. It doesn’t matter whose playing.
COLLEEN’S PARTY PLAYBOOK
Official NFL Super Bowl invitations are available from party stores, or you can be creative and make your own.
Ask your guests to bring a 12-pak of beer (non-alcoholic if you prefer) or other beverage, and a snack item. Be sure to mention that there will be a pre-game Super Bowl pool starting an hour before the game that they’ll need to bring wager money to participate in. Send invitations out two to three weeks in advance.
What to wear
Encourage your guests to wear their favorite team colors, official team jerseys, or other crazy party duds. If your guests come with painted bodies – the maniacs – make sure it doesn’t rub off on your furniture. Have a sheet handy to drape over just in case, or park them in a chair that doesn’t matter – like lawn furniture.
OUTSIDE: Stake down a lawn sign that says the party is here! Hang a team flag on the flagpole. Toss some toy footballs around in the snow or yard. (Last year the footballs I tossed around were all flat – because I am ornery and my son-in-law is a die hard Patriots fan. (Remember “deflate-gate?”)
Tie balloons or hang pennants along the fence railing or stake pennants on individual sticks all along the walkway to your front door. Set a boom box outside with an Official Music of the NFL CD playing continuously. This should have your guests frothing by the time they reach the front door.
INSIDE: cover the serving tables with green football field tablecloths – the kind with the yardage lines marked on them, available at online party stores. Steel a handful of the green Easter basket grass out of the kids’ baskets (that are hanging on a nail in the garage from last Easter), and put little tufts of it in the center of your serving table and on various tables around the room, and around the house. Place on each clump of grass a mini football, mini jersey koozie, and a gumball machine mini football helmet. I found jersey beverage koozies at Oriental Trading Company. I found gumball machine helmets on eBay.
Decorate the walls and windows with football player cutouts. Thread some NFL mini pennants (found mine on eBay or you can make them really easy on the computer) onto a long black cord, like clothes on a clothesline, and hang from the ceiling. I found pennant banners at Oriental Trading Company. Also at Oriental Trading were inflatable goal posts and also an inflatable football player catch game. Put the goal posts on each end of the serving table and set the player over in a corner of the room. Do you have a life-size football player cutout? You can get one at cardboardcutouts.com. You can also find the cool, high definition, life-size wall stickers at fathead.com, but they are kind of pricey. Pick up some balloons and streamers of both the teams colors and string those up too. Scatter around #1 fingers, pom-poms, bam-bams, and other such fan paraphernalia from your local party store.
I found a football crock-pot at Wal-mart. I also found a large, brown, 3-section football bowl and a stadium pictographic serving tray at the grocery store, and a football helmet chip and dip snack bowl on eBay (they also have these at the NFL website – official NFL helmets, your team choice). I also saw the cutest idea in a Taste of Home magazine recently (Laces Out Bottle Coozie, p. 26, February/March 2012)…homemade football koozies. You take your old beverage koozies and spray paint them “football brown.” Then you cut fat little lace shapes out of craft foam sheets and attach so it looks like a little football. So cute!
Put an NFL music CD on continuous play on a CD player in the entry room of your house. Purchase plates, cups, napkins, etc. from a party store or Wal-Mart. You can go with the official NFL Super Bowl stuff or anything with footballs on it. Or do the team colors.
I found some super soft Nerf footballs and piled them in a basket for the boys to throw at the TV when the players do something bad or the ref makes a bad call. I called them “bad-call-bricks.” I’ve heard it isn’t good to throw them directly at an LCD screen when it is on, so my boys were instructed to chunck them on the floor to relieve their aggression.
Buy a piece of Astro-turf (do you know why they call it “Astro” turf?) at your local hardware store to cover a coffee table or serving table. Some hardware stores (Home Depot) sell it for less than a dollar per square foot. It’s an inexpensive way to add a great touch of the game. You can spray paint some lines on it and let it dry before placing on your table.
If I want to really plan ahead I’ll go with whatever foods are indigenous to the host city of the Super Bowl, since that information is available much ahead of who the actual teams are that will be playing there. For instance, this year, Super Bowl 50 will be played at Levi Stadium in Santa Clara, California (which is really part of the greater San Francisco Area). Having visited San Francisco many times, and eaten myself into a food coma on almost all of those occasions, I can vouch that the food choices are wide open. One could easily go with Chinese from Chinatown, which, in its own rite is a vast menu (thinking of Dim Sum — little nibbles of many things, or Chop Suey and fortune cookies — which were both invented in San Francisco). Or Italian foods, straight out of North Beach! Or, perhaps my most favorite, the street foods from down on Fisherman’s Wharf. My personal favorites are the dungenous crabs that they sell (or at least used to sell) from little stands down by the water — bought by the pound, then cooked to order, and beaten with a mallet on the chopping block, scooped onto paper and served with drawn butter and lemons. Oh my!!! Lord have mercy!!! If you grab a fresh, hot loaf of sour dough bread first to go with it, and find yourself a bench to sit on, that is eating like a king, baby…truly eating like a KING!!!! Or, my other fav is sitting outside in the salty air eating Boudin’s clam chowder in a Bread Boule, with the seaguls (and street people) scavenging about.
So, with that in mind, this year (2016), I went with Sour Dough Bread Bowls of Boudin’s Clam Chowder, Crab Louie salads, with homemade Thousand Island Dressing, and Ghirardelli Mug Cakes for a luncheon that I hosted…
Clam Chowder in a Sour Dough Bread Boule (I used a recipe found on Taste of Home, that truly is “Contest-Winning” New England Clam Chowder). I tripled the recipe and it was perfect for serving the 20 people in my crowd. I got the bread boules at Wal-mart. I had Super Bowl plates that I served the luncheon food on, but of course failed to grab a photo of those. This photo is of the left-overs I fed to hubbie for supper that night. His is missing the crumbled bacon on top though. 🙂
Crab Louie (which is said to have been invented in San Francisco), with homemade Thousand Island Dressing. I actually put the crab meat on top of the salad that I made for the luncheon, but failed to get a photo of that dish as well. So this is a recreation of the salad (which I am feeding to hubbie tonight). It is missing the avacado and black olives, and I’m saving that can of crab meat for tonight’s supper: Grilled Red Fish smothered with a lump crabmeat cream sauce on top, and Rice-a-Roni, the San Francisco Treat!!!
Ghirardelli Mug Cakes (because a trip to Fisherman’s Wharf is not complete until you’ve stopped in for your chocolate fix at this famous San Francisco fixture)! I whipped up the mixes and baked them in ceramic mugs in the oven (325* for approx. 28 minutes). The white cups were a Chocolate cake batter made with a big bar of Ghirardelli chocolate, and then a Ghirardelli gnache (made with Ghirardelli chocolate chips and heavy cream) spread on top, with some chocolate sprinkles for garnish. The black mugs were a box mix Ghirardelli Caramel Turtle Brownies (2 boxes for 8 mugs) mixed as directed on the package, and with a spoonful of the wonderful gnache on top of each. ***Take these to the next level by serving warm out-of-the-oven with a scoop of vanilla (or caramel, butter pecan, or even coffee flavored) ice cream and a drizzle of the warm gnache on top, and a sprinkle of chopped pecans.
And… now that we know my Denver Broncos (wooot, wooot, wooot) will be playing in Super Bowl 50 (Squeal, whistle, doing my touchdown dance, uh huh, uh huh — I’m really trying to contain my excitement), I’m going to do the Denver thing for my personal Super Bowl party at home this Sunday. And what is the Denver thing you ask? Well, I’m going with anything that can be stacked up or piled high – “Mile-High Nachos” (like the ones they serve at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville), or “Mile-High BLT’s” (which will take the triple or Dagwood sandwich to a whole new level), and a monster pile of “Mile-High Garlic Fries,” and/or a heaping platter of “Mile-High” Hot wings (yeah, you get the idea)!!!! And of course anything made with “Orange Crush” soda — like an orange Creamsicle cake with cream cheese frosting, or orange and cream jello parfaits (or jello shots).
Here’s what my “Stadium Concessions” looked like: (and, how ’bout them Broncos? 🙂 Wow…I can barely contain myself!!! They said it was gonna be a blow-out. It was the Sheriff’s best rodeo!!! I guess if a black cat crosses your path you just squish’it with your defense!!!! Congrats to Von Miller for MVP!!! Way to go Payton! All the way Elway! Kube..Kube..Kubiak! Way to stomp ’em Orange Crush!!! Yeehaw!!!
But if, for instance, the Eagles were playing this year, then I would definitely be serving Philly Cheese Steak Sandwiches. Chicago = Chicago Dogs or Deep Dish Pizza. New Orleans = Jambalaya, shrimp Po’Boys, Muffalettas, or Gumbo! Texas = BBQ Ribs, Texas Chili, or Tex-Mex Enchiladas!!! New England = Clam Chowder or Boston Baked Beans. New York = Coney Dogs, New York style (pizza) pie, Buffalo Hot Wings, or Manhattan Style Clam Chowder. Kansas City = Ribeyes. Seattle = Smoked Salmon served wrapped in newspaper, or a Crab boil (crab legs, mussels, clams, shrimp, baby red potatoes, corn on cobbetts, and kielbasa, poured out on a paper covered table, served with drawn butter.
This was my personal last year’s menu:
And this is what it really looked like in reality (just before I ate mine):
Or…you can do tailgate foods:
Chili cook-off (red chili, white chicken chili, green chili, and chili with and without beans), and serve with corn bread or Mexican corn bread, or over Fritos, and have various chili toppings
Hot Dogs done all different ways (mustard, relish, sauerkraut, chili, cheese, Chicago style, etc.) and served with pasta or potato salads and chips
Nachos Grande (chips, ground beef, crumbled bacon, cheese, pico de gallo, jalapenos, etc.)
Hamburgers cooked on the grill with all sorts of toppings, and served with salads and chips
Baked Potato Bar featuring large baked potatoes and a sundry of toppings
Smoked Brisket, beans, coleslaw, hot rolls, potato salad, pickles and onions
Or, you can just go for some awesome snacks: homemade soft pretzels and a melted Monterey Jack with poblano peppers fondue dipping sauce, or a sandwich tray, cold cuts, cheeses, and spreads. Maybe your guests would enjoy a platter of little cheeseburger sliders. You can also add a veggie tray from the grocery store, or a shrimp tray from Red Lobster. Try take-and-bake pizza like from Papa Murphy’s. The freezer section of the grocery store also offers a sundry of appetizer items that can be baked in the oven and added to your table in a hurry, like TGI Friday’s spinach artichoke dip, or twice baked potato skins, and such.
Have a LARGE ice chest in the TV room filled with ice where your guests can chill the beverages they brought. Put all the beer and pop in it. Keep it in the same room as the TV so people don’t miss anything when they need another brewski. And be sure to set out bowls of popcorn, pretzels, chips and dip, salsa and tortilla chips, mixed nuts, M&M’s, and snack size candy bars. Or set up a popcorn bar (there are tons of ideas on Pinterest), with a huge barrel of plain popcorn and sundry toppings (chocolate covered peanuts, M&M’s, Jr. Mints, candied pecans, Malted Milk Balls, Reeses Pieces, mini peanut butter cups, etc.), or melted butter in a squeeze bottle and various seasonings (check out Kernal Seasonings) and flavored salts.
Check out these cookbooks for more recipe ideas:
NBC Sunday Night Football Cookbook (ISBN 160320797X)
The NFL Gameday Cookbook (ISBN 0811863956)
ESPN Gameday Gourmet: More Than 80 All American Tailgate Recipes (ISBN 1933606158)
FOX Sports Tailgating Handbook: The Gear, The Food, The Stadiums (ISBN 076274622X)
Games and Activities for the kids
Set up a craft table for the kids and give them blank pennants to decorate (available at Oriental Trading Company).
Purchase several tabletop football games (with suction cup goal posts and a cardboard football), one game for every two kids. Set them up on a long table and have the kids play off against each other. Winners continue playing against each other while losers watch. Have some prizes for the final winner of each match.
Have some small soft Nerf balls for the kids to play catch with.
Set up a goal post kicking game in a far corner of the room (or down a long hallway) where the kids can take turns kicking a mini nerf football through the uprights from several distances marked as yard lines on the floor. The kid with the most goals wins!
Set up a tossing game by cutting a hole out of a large piece of cardboard and leaning it up against a corner of the room. The kids can take turns tossing a mini nerf football into the hole. The kid who tosses the most in the hole after several rounds wins.
Make sure to have special snacks and beverages for the kids that they can help themselves to throughout the party.
Games for grown-ups
You can collect money from your guests for the hundred squares pool (explained later in this post) and also scratch off tickets. The hundred squares pool will get cash prizes, and then if you want, you can give great non-cash prizes for the scratch off tickets. Here are some ideas for prizes that I found at Wal-Mart:
Official NFL football jersey or hat
Official NFL football, signed by all your guests
This month’s issue of Sports Illustrated
A poster of an NFL Quarterback or favorite player
Sports Illustrated poster of a swimsuit model
Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Calendar
A best-of CD by whomever is performing the half-time show
The Football Pool
An hour before the game, have your guests start filling out the hundred squares board (I’ll explain how this game works in just a little bit). Each participants pays a quarter, 50 cents, or a dollar for the opportunity to put their name in a block on a hundred squares board. You can also, or alternatively, make them answer a trivia question for the right to a square, if you want to keep money out of it. If they answer it correctly they get a square, if not, they have to wait their turn to try and answer another one. Guests can continue answering trivia questions until the board is full.
You could also make them do something to earn a square, like tossing a football through a hoop, naming five NFL teams, naming five quarterbacks, or naming five NFL stadiums, or guess the colors of a particular team.
The Hundred Squares Board
Get a large sheet of poster board; I like the stiff foam type (available at Wal-Mart in the craft or school supplies area). Draw a grid on it that is 10 squares wide by 10 squares long. Write one team’s name across the top of the board and the other team up the left side of the board. ***Do not fill in the numbers yet.*** Players will fill in their names in the squares (first) either by purchasing a square, or by answering a trivia question correctly.
Once the grid is completely filled up with names (one name in each square) then you can fill in the numbers. This is done by first writing the numbers on slips of paper ( 0 thru 9) and then drawing the slips out of a hat to fill in the numbers going across the top. Put all the slips of paper back in the hat and repeat the process to fill the numbers going down the left side of the hundred squares board.
Divide the money into four portions. The first three portions should be less than the last portion. If you charged $1 per square you’ll have $100, so your portions should be $20, $20, $20 and $40. At each quarter of the game the person whose block matches the last number of each team’s score is the winner, and wins that quarter’s prize. For example, using the grid above, if the score at the first quarter was Green Bay 7 and Denver 10, Ann would win $20.00. Whoever has the correct block for the final score wins the final and largest cash prize.
Scratch off tickets
These are party favors that look like lotto scratch off tickets. They usually come in a set of 10 or 12 with one of them being a winner. I found sets of them on eBay advertised as “Football Party Favors Scratch-off Game” a few weeks before the Super Bowl. I have also seen them at party stores. This website has a set specifically for Super Bowl that costs just over $5 for a set of 12 cards, personalized.
Guests can buy a ticket from you, or you can just give them out at any point during the game, or before or after. They are like lottery tickets that you scratch off with a coin to reveal what’s underneath. If you made your guests purchase a ticket, the winner wins the cash you collected. If you just gave them out, winner gets a prize that you have purchased.
If you can’t find scratch-off tickets, or you waited until the last minute to play this game and don’t have time for the shipping (that would be me), here’s a great alternative. Hide prize coupons in random places in the house – an index card with the words, “CONGRATULATIONS, YOU FOUND IT!” printed on the front, and instructions for redeeming it on the back. If a ticket is spotted the finder can redeem it with you for a prize! Some good hiding places I used were
- laying on the bottom of the inside of the chip bowl
- hidden in the roll of toilet paper in the guest bathroom
- taped to the bottom of a plate in the paper plates stack
- taped to the hidden side of a bottle of beer in the refrigerator
Don’t tell your guests anything about the “treasure hunt.” Let them discover it all on their own. Of course, after a couple have been found your guests will be asking if there are others and where they are – especially the kids.
On the backsides of my cards I told them to bring the card to me for a prize. I had 4 cards hidden and 4 prizes: an NFL football, a CD of the featured halftime entertainment, a Sports Illustrated magazine, and a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit poster. Those were the choices I happened to find at Wal-Mart. I wrapped each prize and labeled it with an alphabet letter, and then hid the prizes in a back bedroom closet of the house. I marked each index card with the corresponding letters of the prizes so that when someone came to redeem a prize, it would already be predetermined which prize they had won. Only the winner could accompany me to the prize closet.
It’s all about the game… focus, focus, focus!
Make a list of several things that could happen during the game:
- Who wins the toss?
2. Who scores first?
3. First field goal,
4. First Touchdown,
5. First Penalty (offensive/defensive),
6. First Punt,
7. First Blocked kick,
8. First QB sack,
9. First Fumble,
10. First Interception, etc.
Use a symbol, or sticker, or just number the items as I have done above to identify each of these things on a wager sheet, shown below.
Take a sheet of notebook paper and write all of your guest’s names descending down the left side. Divide the right side of the sheet of paper into two columns, one for each team, and write the team names at the top (see example shown).
Each guest antes up a quarter for each thing they wish to wager against. Set the limit low to encourage everyone to participate.
Each guest selects the team that will be the first to commit. This makes it simple for folks that are not football fans, but are attending the party. All they have to do is select one of the two teams.
Now make a game board using a sheet of poster board, and draw a grid on it, like the hundred squares board. Place little football game pieces for each player (marked with their initials) along the bottom of the board, and draw a goal post at the top of the board. Each time a guest gets an item right they can move their game piece up one square on the game board, towards the uprights. In the end, the player closest to the goal wins the pot.
Since anything can happen at any time, this creates interest in the game.
3-D glasses: sometimes there are advertisements or half time events that are broadcast in 3-D. In 2009 3-D glasses were available at various grocery stores and fueling stations for use during the Super Bowl. Shrek 2/Shrek 3-D: Party in the Swamp, the DVD, came with 4 pairs of 3-D glasses. Perhaps you bought the movie and saved the glasses? Otherwise look for them online. Have several pair of 3-D glasses on hand so your guests don’t miss anything cool.
How daring is your crowd? Make “Jell-O-shooters” (non-alcoholic for the nondrinkers and kids) ahead of time to have on hand. Make two different color shots and celebrate whatever you wish. You could ask your guests to designate a Team upon arrival and give them a name tag. Whenever the “Giants” score a touchdown all those fans can make the other fans take a shot. That way everybody is having a good time. Or you could do it like this, when the “Falcons” score EVERYBODY has to take a peach shot, and when the Packers score EVERYBODY has to do the green apple shots. Jell-O shooters are made my replacing half the cold water in the recipe with liquor (vodka or peach schnapps usually).
At the risk of stating the obvious… please, please, please be a responsible host and don’t allow underage drinking, nor let your guests drink and drive.
Pre Game Games
Maybe you’d like to make your party all day rather than just an evening affair? Have your pals over for some pre-game Games, such as ESPN Sports Trivia version of Scene-It, or NFLopoly, just to name a couple.
Prearrange for a party referee (especially if you have ill mannered guests at your party or one especially bossy person that you want to give something to do). Ask one of your guests ahead of time if they would be willing to serve as party referee. This person will wear a referee shirt and throw a yellow flag for the following offenses:
Holding – Such as holding on to the popcorn too long
Party Foul – guest caught double dipping anything
Illegal Use of Hands – self explanatory.
Most important element to a successful Super Bowl party, don’t run out of drinks or things to snack on.
Party favors and parting gifts: Send all your pom-poms, bam-bams, pennants, mini-footballs, football koozies, etc, home with your guests.
NOTE: this party transfers well as an office party, or what I like to call a”Break Room Bash.” Do you and your coworkers get together each month and have luncheons? I worked at a school once where the staff took turns by grade level decorating the lounge and hosting a monthly luncheon. Usually they were things like “A Salad Bar” or “Soup & Sandwiches” or “Loaded Potato Bar” or “Hot Dog Bar” or that sort of thing. The staff that were assigned to each month would be in charge of decorating the lounge (if they wished) and also taking care of it (wiping tables, washing dishes, keeping the refrigerator cleaned out, etc.), and providing the end-of-the-month carry-in lunch. The Parent-Teacher council also brought in a cake for dessert and we celebrated all the birthdays for the month as well! It was a really nice thing! Click here for more about “Break Room Bashes.”
“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.”
1 Corinthians 9:24