Many fans today are enjoying their football party food inside where it’s warm. It’s called homegating, and our indoor tailgating tips will make yours a winner.
No question about it: football is America’s favorite game. Every game is an event—maybe because each team plays only one game a week—and a fine excuse to get together with friends for food and drink.
Of course, nothing beats the excitement of watching a game live. And that’s where tailgating comes in. Originally named for the practice of offering refreshments on the tailgate of a pickup truck, the practice has evolved into hours-long productions involving portable grills and furniture, gourmet foods, outdoor games and massive coolers full of beverages. Sometimes the tailgate parties are bigger attractions—and last longer—than the games themselves, and those who put on the best spreads are revered as legends among friends and fans. (We can help you be one of the legends with our easy tailgating tips.)
Tailgating is a chance for outdoor chefs to show off their grill skills and for their guests to enjoy football party food on a beautiful day in the parking lot of their favorite stadium. But what if it’s not such a beautiful day? Late-season games in cities like Green Bay, Chicago, Cleveland or Buffalo can take place on brutally cold days that dampen the mood for all but the hardiest of fans. Plus, let’s face it: as electric as the gameday atmosphere can be, it’s far more conducive to people-watching and “being there” than it is to actually watching the game. Factor in the escalating price of tickets (and those $10 beers in the stadium…), and it’s no wonder many people today are holding their tailgate parties at home. Welcome to homegating.
The Comforts of Homegating
Watching football at home is not what it used to be. Today’s HDTVs with digital surround sound, together with multiple cameras and microphones at the game itself, deliver an experience previously unavailable to the home TV viewer. Instead of sitting on a cold, hard bleacher seat, you’re kicked back in your favorite recliner with a beverage that cost a reasonable price…and enjoying great football party food on an actual table instead of a tailgate or the back of a van. Speaking of the food, when you’re cooking in the comfort of your own kitchen—with more preparation options and fewer logistical challenges—it’s much easier to make football party food that will score points with your guests.
But first, let’s talk about creating a real game-day atmosphere. Unless your home is already decked out as a shrine to your favorite team, chances are you’re going to need a few props to replace the feeling of being there at the stadium. Thankfully, NFLshop.comhas a huge selection of officially licensed homegating supplies to put everyone in the spirit. And with all that money you saved by not having to buy tickets, you can splurge on making everything look great.
You can also use that money you saved (on tickets as well as expensive stadium food) toward splurging on food for your homegating party. For the best party ever, you want to make it taste better than the stadium food…but also be easy to prepare and serve so you actually get to enjoy the game.
Football Party Food: The Spread Formation
Just as football is the ultimate team sport, with many types of players performing different functions, your football party food should offer a variety of tastes and textures. We’re not putting on a multi-course meal, but actually offering the same components at once so guests can graze as they wish.
First, kick off with a nice variety of appetizers: heat-and-eat shrimp, chicken tenders or wings, dips and finger foods. Be creative and make them fit a theme, if appropriate. Is your game being held in Texas, or is one of the teams from there? Offer Tex-Mex dishes like burritos or enchiladas. Use your imagination!
Every team has a star—maybe yours should be quarterbacked by some Hall of Fame-caliber premium aged beef. Fire up the grill at the two-minute warning and throw some steaks on for the ultimate halftime show! Or for the ultimate convenience, make a hearty batch of easy gourmet chili ahead of time and let everyone dish up whenever they want. You’ll be the MVP when you offer an assortment of the best tailgating foods.
And don’t forget the special teams: a hearty selection of tailgating treats like cheeses, sausages and even sweets to keep the fans fueled.
Just remember: football is only supposed to be hard work for the players! For the rest of us, it’s fun. With a little bit of planning—and not a lot of effort—you can put together a homegating party they’ll be talking about long after the season is over.