Planning a Backyard Game Day Party

September 24, 2021
Planning a Backyard Game Day Party

Story Highlights

Football season has arrived, and we are excited to celebrate with friends! At Outdoor Dreams, we believe that Game Day parties are best hosted in your own backyard. A Backyard Game Day Party combines the atmosphere of tailgating with the comfort of your home.

Whether you’re hosting a party for your favorite college or NFL team, this article provides the tips you need to put together a winning game plan!

let your space dictate the

Invite List

To ensure everyone's comfort, make sure to invite the number of guests that will fit comfortably into your outdoor space. Additionally, even if you have a large outdoor space, make sure that the size of your invite list won't create too much crowding around the TV.

Have a plan for...

Viewing the Game

You can't have a Game Day party without the game. Whether you have an outdoor tv, are taking an indoor tv outside, or you're setting up a projector system, you must have a good plan for actually watching the game. Don't forget to plan for sound as well; additional speakers are often required outdoors to ensure everyone can hear the play-by-play throughout the space. Be sure to give your set up a test run to ensure everything works properly; you don't want to be scrambling to figure everything out moments before kickoff.

And don't forget to...

Have a Back Up Plan

You can never trust Mother Nature (or the people that try to predict her). Because of this, it's always important to have a backup plan in case the weather doesn't work out. Keep the house tidy and the sofa cleared, just in case you need to move the party indoors.

When it comes to a game day party...

It's all about the food!

Even if the game is boring or your team loses, your Game Day party will still be a success if the food is delicious. Though chips and dips are essential, don't settle for just the basics. Plan a balanced menu featuring elements that are sweet, salty, spicy, crunchy, chewy, juicy (greasy?), and fresh (yes, this means vegetables).

Along with some basic noshing staples (chips, vegetables, and dips), plan for two or three appetizers and two main dishes. This will provide options for your guests without overdoing it. Your goal should be to have the appetizers last through the first half, and the main dishes last through the second half. Game Day appetites are often large, so you should aim for a plate and a half per person.

Not an option:

Incorporate the Grill

Grilled menu items are essential for a backyard Game Day party. Whether it's burgers and hot dogs or ribs and smoked meats, incorporating the grill (or smoker) is not optional!

If your menu is going to include chicken wings, put a delicious spin on this Game Day favorite by using your grill or smoker..

Easy, Grab & Go Foods

Along with grilled meats, be sure to include other easy, grab & go snacks. Game Day parties tend to be active and guests will want/need snacks that are easy to carry and eat while cheering excessively or yelling at the refs.

Large soft pretzels, as pictured, are a great example!

Serving Essentials

Napkins, plates, etc.

As with any food-centered gathering, plates, napkins, and utensils are essential. That said, an Outdoor Game Day party requires a few additional considerations:

  1. Sauce Bowls: Whether we're talking chips and dip or chicken wings with ranch, many Game Day foods come with dipping sauces. Instead of guests using their plates where sauces can spread and "contaminate" other foods, consider providing sauce bowls.

  2. Paper Towels: Game Day foods, like Chicken Wings and Ribs, are incredibly messy and require something stronger than a napkin. *Hoses may be needed for some*

  3. Paper and Plastic: Broken glass and ceramic can be incredibly difficult to clean up outside. It's best to play it safe with paper and plastic products. As an added bonus, this results in easier clean-up.

  4. Weigh Items Down: If there's any wind in the forecast, you need to have a plan to weigh down light items like paper plates and napkins. As pictured, even a simple miniature pumpkin can do the trick.

Provide Plenty of Cold Drinks!

When it comes to drinks, the first decision you need to make is whether or not your party will include alcohol. Though football and beer often go hand-in-hand, it's completely understandable if you want to omit alcohol from the festivities, especially if it's a family gathering.

If you choose to include alcohol, take the opportunity to highlight your favorite local brewery (in Central Virginia we have many to choose from!). Choosing craft beers will both elevate the gathering and support a local small business.

Have fun with your Non-Alcoholic Options

Instead of offering only water and the traditional sodas, have some fun with your non-alcoholic options (think seltzer waters, fizzy juices, and craft sodas). This will add a layer of fun for guests and shows extra consideration for non-drinkers. Additionally, if you are including alcohol at your party, fun drinks could be great mixers (a spicy ginger beer, for example) for those that prefer cocktails!

Bloody Mary's are a great choice because they pair well with Game Day foods.

Consider a Game Day Cocktail

If you are including alcohol at your Game Day party, consider creating a signature cocktail or two. Because it's expensive (and likely impossible) to stock a bar with everything your guests could want, this will limit your investment and allow you to enhance the gathering with drinks that pair perfectly with the setting and meal.

Check out the Outdoor Dreams' Cocktail Hour for fun new cocktail recipes!

Establishing the playing field

Game Day Decor

As any good football fan knows, extra points are important. This goes for your Game Day party as well. While good food will get you the touchdown, it's the decor that scores you the extra point(s). For your Game Day party, you can go all out with decorations in your team’s colors, or go simple and elegant with autumn decor. Or maybe you want to "go for two" and combine the two ideas! 

Be sure to provide

Ample Seating

Not everyone wants to watch a big game standing up, so make sure you have plenty of seating space. Having enough seats may mean you need to utilize some indoor chairs. Also, consider increasing the comfort of your masonry sitting walls with cushions.

Keep guests entertained with...

Additional Games & Activities

Let's be honest, some football games are boring (especially if your team is losing badly), and sometimes not everyone is as into it as you are. Be sure to have additional games and activities available to keep guests entertained and actively burning off all the calories you are serving them. Also, if you're planning a family gathering, games are essential for keeping kids happy. Consider the following:

  1. Have a couple of footballs around for playing catch or a game of touch.

  2. Cornhole has become a Game Day essential. If you don't have a set, ask a friend to bring theirs or use this as an excuse to finally make the purchase.

  3. Set Up Badminton, Bocce, Volleyball, etc.

Don't Forget about...

Keeping Guests Warm

Chances are good that your Outdoor Game Day party might have cooler temperatures, especially late afternoon and evening games. If cooler temperatures are in the forecast, it's important to provide your guests with various ways to keep warm.

To start, leave throws and blankets around your space for guests to wrap up in. Outdoor heaters are a fantastic investment and are also available to rent from many establishments.

Additionally, if your outdoor living space includes a fire feature, be prepared with plenty of wood and starters.

looking for more inspiration?

Check out more photos of our

Game Day Party

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