Hosting a tailgate party at home? With the right food, the right decorations, and plenty of seating for your guests, you can host the ultimate tailgate without having to go to the stadium! Here are 17 homegating ideas for your next game day party!
Get Your Outdoor Space Ready
Watching the game outdoors is more like what you’d experience at the stadium and provides additional room for people to move about and engage in activities. If you have an outdoor living room, that’s often the best place to host your watch party. You can also turn your patio or porch into the ultimate game day location with some weatherproof couches, a few tables, and a flatscreen TV.
Have a Backup Plan
One of the great things about sports is that they’re played all year long in all kinds of weather. The same, however, cannot be said of your home tailgate. If the forecast calls for snow, rain, or freezing temperatures, you need to be ready to pivot on a dime. Consider setting up outdoor canopies or move your car into your driveway so you can host your tailgate party from inside your garage. And if you already prepared your indoor space for a party, then moving everybody inside should be a breeze!
Create an Indoor Tailgate
If you want to beat the heat or the cold, opt for an indoor tailgate! It may not have the same “tailgating” vibe as an outdoor party, but watching the game inside allows you to control the environment while hosting a more intimate get-together. Set up a viewing spot for watching the game, a social space where guests can go and chat, and a food area where you can put out all of your game day dishes. Breaking up these areas is a great way to prevent overcrowding and keep your indoor watch party organized!
Set the Mood with Decor
Get everyone pumped for the big game by decorating your home with balloons, tablecloths, and flags in the colors of your favorite team! Local stores may even sell tableware and napkins with your team’s colors and logos. If you don’t want team-specific decorations, opt for more general sports-related items, such as yellow “penalty flag” napkins or a snack stadium. If you don’t feel like spending the money on pre-made decorations, try making DIY party decorations to give your watch party a personal touch!
Gather Party Essentials
Make sure you have enough serving bowls, trays, and utensils to serve all of your home tailgate visitors. Also, you’ll want coolers and pitchers for serving batched drinks like tea and lemonade. And food warmers are a must-have amenity if you plan on serving food buffet-style. If you don’t have these items at home already, you may need to order them from a caterer or ask family or friends if you can borrow theirs.
Set Up the TV
If you’re going to be watching the game outside, you’ll need the proper equipment. Indoor TVs aren’t always suited to backyard tailgates because you may have trouble seeing the screen from the glare and could cause damage to your television set. Investing in an outdoor TV is a great way to avoid any presentation problems and keep your party running smoothly! If you’re having a watch party indoors, just make sure your TV is set up and ready to go. You can also consider moving additional TVs into your living room so you can watch multiple games at once!
Install a Sound System
Sound is one of the most important aspects of the sports viewing experience. Hearing the crowd go wild is a powerful experience. You can bring that same intense environment to your home tailgate party by having a solid sound system and speakers set up so all of your guests can get caught up in the action.
Make Sure You Have Enough Seats
The last thing you want is for your tailgate party to be too small to accommodate guests. Every single guest should have a place to sit. Whether it’s inside or outside, seating is crucial to your party’s success. Try grouping a couch or futon with a few chairs to create viewing pods. You can also ask guests to bring their own lawn chairs, which can help with getting additional seating.
Have Yard Games Available
Add some excitement to your homegating party with some tailgate games like Cornhole, Ladder Toss, and Horseshoes! These are great for filling time during the pregame, commercial breaks, and halftime. You can even try setting up a mini-tournament to really get guests involved! Backyard party games can also give kids something to do if they aren’t interested in watching the game.
Don’t Forget the Kids
As a host, you should find ways to entertain everyone at your tailgate, including children. Providing a craft to work on or a playroom to hang out in while the adults watch the game is a perfect way to keep everyone at the party happy! If you have a lot of guests coming, you could even consider renting a bounce house for your backyard.
Plan Good Tailgate Food
One of the best parts about tailgating is the food, and you have a lot more cooking options when you tailgate at home since the kitchen is right there! Go classic with hamburgers, hot dogs, and brats on the grill. Allow your guests to customize their meal with a nacho, taco, or chili bar. Or break out the crockpot and take your party food to the next level with meatballs or pulled pork.
Include Side Dishes
While the main dish is the star, sides and appetizers are essential to any tailgating spread. Fans want something they can snack on and easily get more of between plays or commercials. Since you’re tailgating at home, you can break out the frozen snacks and heat them up in your microwave for quick appetizers in a hurry. Store-bought party food items like veggie trays, chips and salsa, and charcuterie boards will do the trick, too, but don’t be afraid to step out and make your own. Simple tailgate recipes like bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers and buffalo chicken dip are sure to wow the crowd!
Prep Food Before Guests Arrive
It’s always wise to prepare the menu as early as possible! Creating a custom menu for your party is a must if you want to impress your homegating party guests. Prep food that will take a bit longer to cook before your party starts and then keep it warm in a crockpot or oven set to the “warm” setting. Having tailgate food ready to eat or ready to heat up before your guests arrive is a great way to cut down on meal prep during the main event. This will make your party more enjoyable for both you and your guests.
Let Someone Else Do the Cooking
Don’t feel like preparing an entire spread after planning a tailgating party? Get your hands on some easy tailgate food by ordering trays of BBQ, chicken wings, or fried chicken from a local restaurant. Not only does this save you energy when preparing for your party, but it also ensures that you can pay full attention to your guests and the game as it happens. As an added bonus, catering food also cuts down on the amount of dishes and cooking mess you have to deal with when everyone goes home!
Host a Potluck
Another way you can make meal prep easy is by turning your homegate into a team effort with a potluck! Assign dishes to family and friends, or create a shared document online where guests can sign up to bring different items. Consider supplying the main course while your guests bring supplementary items like appetizers, desserts, and drinks. You could even consider making your potluck into a competition by hosting a chili cook-off or a pie baking contest!
Bake Some Tailgate Treats
Make a themed cake, cookies with frosting numbers, or team-colored cupcakes to provide sweet treats to all of your guests. One big advantage to a home tailgate is that you have a lot of space to make and serve food, as well as access to an oven for any baking needs. If you’re going to make desserts, be sure to make enough for the whole crowd and consider setting them up in an elaborate display!
What’s a backyard tailgate without some drinks? Supplying water, lemonade, and iced tea is a great way to help guests of all ages stay refreshed. As for adult beverages, you can fill coolers with some of your favorite beers and offer them to the party or operate on the classic “BYOB” policy. If the weather is going to be cooler, try making some warm drinks like hot chocolate, coffee, or even spiked cider to help keep your guests warm.
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