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7 Entertaining Tips for Your Big Game Gathering

A little planning goes a long way toward easing the pressure from game-day preparations.

Crowd Control

Want to keep the crowd out of the kitchen and free up fridge space? Set up coolers or ice-filled buckets around the gathering area and fill them with drinks. Keeping things like cups and napkins handy and in reach will also lend to the tailgate feel. If the weather is cool, you might set up thermal carafes filled with coffee or hot chocolate where they can be easily reached.

Kid-Zone

If kids will be in the mix, keep them entertained by creating a space just for them. Set aside an area with kid-friendly foods, party favors, and activities that will keep them occupied. You can separate them into two groups that correspond with the teams that are playing; you can even provide them with T-shirts or pin-on badges that reflect the team colors. Kids can throw a foam football into a designated target, such as a basket. You can also draw a football field on a large piece of paper, blindfold one person at a time, and let them try to pin a paper football in the end zone. Prizes can be stickers, erasers, pencils, or anything else that strikes your fancy.

Make-Ahead Menu Items

Preparing as many make-ahead menu items as possible will help save your time—and sanity—for the big day. Dips, cheese balls, fruit trays, cookies, and cheese platters are all great choices for day-ahead preparation. And, you can put the Elite Classic 2.5 Ounce Kettle Popcorn Maker to work on game day with minimal effort. Everyone loves this quick and easy treat, and the generous size of the kettle popcorn maker ensures you will have snacks on hand for everyone.

Slow Cooker Stations

Keep food warm in several slow cookers. Foods like cheese dip, chili, and meatballs are perfect candidates. Be sure to have a container of broth on hand to thin out dips, sauces, and other dishes as needed in case they start to thicken. A triple slow cooker is perfect for dips and sauces, and a triple buffet server is great for keeping hors d'oeuvres and heartier fare warm. The Hamilton Beach Programmable 7 Quart Slow Cooker features a lid latch to eliminate the fuss factor from transporting meals.

Friendly Competition

Liven things up a bit by asking guests to choose the winner of the game and the final score as they arrive. Write everyone’s selections down on a whiteboard, chalkboard, or even on sticky notes posted on the wall for all to see. Whoever is closest to the final score at the end receives a prize, such as a gift card or other item of your choosing—it doesn’t have to be fancy.

Dress It up

Decorations help set the mood for game day. Food tables can feature tablecloths made to look like a football field, with an end zone on each side. If you are handy like that, you can buy a white paper or nylon tablecloth and use markers or paper cut-outs to create the details. Centerpieces can be as simple as Mason jars filled with confetti in team colors. Paper football cut-outs can be placed around the table and around the house for an extra touch. You can also add additional details that guests can take home with them, such as foam fingers or mini footballs that can be tossed around during the game.

The Social Station

Because you are bound to have guests that will be more interested in socializing than in watching the game, setting up a separate area for them will ensure that they enjoy themselves and also provides a space for guests to get out of the clamor and excitement that is so often part of game day. This could be a porch or patio area, or a space in the backyard, weather permitting. Be sure to have coolers and snack trays handy for the social set as well.