Inside: The best football party ideas for hosting any gameday gathering, tailgate, football themed birthday party, football watch party, or Super Bowl Sunday from where Friday Night Lights are king!
Fall means cooling temperatures and changing leaves, and more importantly—football season.
I’ll admit I’m not a super “sporty” person. But I was raised in the south where football is a way of life. And in my opinion, the best part about the game isn’t the game at all. It’s the social aspect. The friendly camaraderie.
And most of all the tailgating.
If you’re planning a football themed get together, I’m sharing my playbook of my best football party ideas sure to score some extra points! (Football pun intended and get ready for LOTS more.😉)
Before my kids benched me into school volunteer retirement by growing up, I co-chaired the hospitality committee for six years with two friends. We jokingly called ourselves the “dream team” because we all had the same crazy, over the top ideas for how to put together a “simple” teacher lunch.
Set some food out and throw a centerpiece on each table over a disposable tablecloth? Unthinkable. Our game plan was always “go big or go home” with our theme and decorations!
And one of the most fun and challenging parts was how creative we had to be on a tight budget. Almost all of the money allocated to the luncheons needed to go toward the food itself. We begged, borrowed, (but stopped short of stealing), and worked that budget sooooo hard.
We wanted to elevate this lunch experience to the next level to show the teachers and staff we truly appreciated what they did for our kids. The goal was to celebrate them with a party for an hour. This wasn’t a one-time teacher appreciation luncheon either. We did this every month with a different theme.
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How we created big football parties in big rooms with little budget.
Since September means the return of school and football, this football party theme was the perfect time for our kickoff luncheon. It also solved the problem of cheap decorations.
Between the three of us and our kids’ activities, we already had loads of decor. A couple of times we brought in another friend (“special teams”) to guest cohost this luncheon because she had boocoos of Dragon gear.
She was our MVP because who has a whole box of homecoming mums, 100 spirit towels, six full sized flags, and a huge inflatable football player??
The big play football party decorations.
One of these parties was in a big school library and the other was in a cavernous lecture hall usually used for meetings. Two really big, bland spaces that we needed to fill up with big impact decorations to make the theme show up.
One trick? Bring in BIG decorations.
Here are some star players you can use to tackle a large space:
- Tailgate tents
- Inflatable football players
- Paper spirit signs
- Team flags
- A past big game on the big screen
- Chalkboards or whiteboards with football x’s and o’s or messages
- Football jerseys and team uniforms
- Lifesize player cardboard cutouts
- Balloons or a balloon arch in team colors
- Football field floor runner
First thing, we popped up a tailgate tent for the entry table with the raffle signup and prizes in the library. We hung spirit towels and homecoming mums from it to show our school spirit:
And in the large lecture hall, we brought in two tents to cover our buffet and serving helpers:
Talk about big bang for your buck decor! This is an easy idea that you probably own or can borrow. Nothing says tailgate like the tent!
And who could miss the huge inflatable football player?
To help decorate the massive blank walls in the lecture hall, we also put the state championship football game on the video screens, x’s and o’s football plays on the whiteboards, and hung school uniforms on the walls.
We borrowed D-R-A-G-O-N-S letter signs from the cheerleaders:
And their spirit signs from the hallway:
In the library, we hung this inexpensive green pennant banner from the ceiling that defined the party area:
Second string decorations.
The other great way to make the party space like your living room or dining room game ready? Fill in with LOTS of small room decorations too!
Recruit all of these resources:
- Tablecloths in turf green or your favorite football team colors
- Fabric in team colors or green for tablecloth overlays
- Car flags
- Pom Poms
- Beads in team colors
- Party plates with a football theme or team colors
- Napkins in team colors or yellow “penalty flags”
- Astroturf table runners
- Team cups, water bottles, cooler, beverage tub, football shirts, etc.—anything with your favorite team name on it
For the guest tables, we used base fabric tablecloths borrowed from school organizations and topped them off with football field runners and astroturf pieces.
The centerpieces were vignettes made up of football helmets and all of our miscellaneous spirit flair—car flags, megaphones, pom poms, beads, etc.
Dollar Tree or Oriental Trading were always a great affordable source for our table runners, ceiling flags, pennants, and centerpiece materials for all of the luncheons.
On the buffet and raffle tables, we tucked in as much football flair as we could.
And we topped some of the tables with overlays of fabrics in our school colors.
Game day grub.
We stayed with our tailgate theme for the food. For the meal we had tasty tailgate fare like barbeque, fried chicken, baked beans, coleslaw, salads, chips, dips, deviled eggs, and more!
The dessert buffet table, AKA “The Endzone”, offered cookies, brownies, mini cupcakes, and even football shaped donuts from Krispy Kreme.
If you’re looking for football party food ideas, here are some tailgate favorites to get you started:
- Fried chicken
- BBQ brisket or chicken
- Hot dogs
- Mashed potatoes
- Creamed corn
- Mac and cheese
- Green salad or pasta salad
- Baked beans Corn casserole
- Potato salad
- Green beans
- Veggie tray
- Deviled eggs
- Rotel dip
- 7 layer dip
- Fruit tray Watermelon slices, Sweet and unsweet iced tea
- Soft drinks (beer and adult beverages for an adult football theme party)
And some tailgate desserts:
- Krispy Kreme football donuts
- Banana pudding
- Lemon squares
- Mini cupcakes
For a low carb football party appetizer idea, see these sausage and cheese stuffed mini peppers.
Football-themed party activities.
A party isn’t just about eating, so we had some tailgate activities too!
We got lots of spirit gear donated to raffle at the end of lunch. Teachers love winning something almost as much as good food!
The photo ops were a hit:
And what’s a tailgate without cornhole?
And a fun football themed party favor? They got to keep their cute football shaped glasses that we found at Dollar Tree.
To pump up the mood, we also played a “jock jams” Pandora station over the speakers in the background. (Remember “let’s get ready to ruuuummmble“?)
This party theme was always a “W” and a fun way to cheer our teachers on to a winning season!
Hosting a party at home? You might want to check out, “Entertaining 101: Basic How-To Guide for the Home Hostess“.
As you can probably tell, our Texas town bleeds green. The kids have the Dragon mascot from kindergarten all the way through graduation, and our whole community is centered around family and united by our Dragon pride. My kids have both graduated but I will always be a “mother of Dragons“.
I hope these ideas ignite some team spirit and get you ready for some football. This season, plan your best game day party ever!
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