With College Bowl Games finishing tonight and NFL playoffs around the corner, I wanted to share some fun ideas for throwing a football themed party (these pictures were taken at our son’s 1st birthday party last year). Whether you have little people in tow or not, I hope these ideas will pique your curiosity and aide you in throwing your next bash!
I plan to add tutorials as I can, so if you’re curious about a particular item, I’ll be sure to prioritize. Otherwise, please check back soon for tips and tricks to accomplishing these crafts, treats, and more!
In a world of evites, it can be a fun deviation from the norm to send out paper invitations. When considering a football party, what better way to invite your guests than “tickets?!” While there are actually tons of ideas out there for how to personalize these types of tickets, I enjoyed looking for various pictures of our favorite college team’s field on game day.
When I’m hosting a larger party where friends may bring their friends or family members who might now know us as well, I find it’s incredibly fun (and pseudo practical) to dress en-theme as a “hosting family.”
In looking for the perfect “football hosting” attire that wouldn’t cost an absurd amount of money, I discovered this tutorial for making football jerseys out of simple t-shirts. I modified the tutorial to fit my specifications (and my princess-obsessed preschooler), and voila!
While we have neither the means nor the inclination to transform our entire home into a thematic party land, I do enjoy trying to decorate our main living area and walk-in as much as possible to make the day (and space) feel extra special for me and the kids. For our football party, this mood-setting began with a decorated tailgate in our driveway and a wreath on our front door.
We also moved most of our main furniture to the garage so people would have ample room to mingle, and kids would have ample room to be kids. Then, I went about adding little touches throughout the house to get everyone in the mood (like this mantle with a ribbon garland that we were also able to use for birthday boy’s high chair).
Given the fact that we were hosting 20 kids under 4 (and their parents), we also wanted to keep decorations to a minimum (and as kid friendly as possible), so we scattered the house with over 100 balloons (both on the ceiling and on the floor) to provide some festive appeal but also to be added distractions for the little people (just another way to try and to let Mom and Dad have a precious few uninterrupted minutes to *gasp* have a conversation).
Some printable signs that we used around the house:
Food & Drink
For me, food is the most exciting part of any party. If I’m a guest (or really any time), I love eating it, and if I’m hosting, I thoroughly enjoy making and presenting food in a way that fits with the rest of the party (especially when kids are involved, as they seem to eat more when the food is “exciting”). A simple way to add to the fun is to dress up simple things like beer bottles and water bottles.
Being a non-beer drinker myself, I also like to have some other adult beverage options available. After going a little overboard apple picking this year, we had a significant amount of leftover apples that made for great, pure apple cider (carafes and labels)! The non-sweetened, cold version was perfect for the little ones who would eventually have enough sugar with the available food and desserts.
We heated the rest of the cider (in a crockpot with spices) to use as warm cocktails and added a “playbook” to help anyone seeking some inspiration (it was also a ton of fun to come up with as many different combinations as we could before the party…great, silly at-home date night). We also used some leftover stickers from the invitations to decorate the glasses (and these were an awesome find for plastic warm cocktail glasses)!
To display all of the main food, I couldn’t resist the temptation to make a “snackadium.” Knowing my penchant for the ridiculous, a girlfriend had proposed that I make one for my next party, and I ran with it!!! Here’s how it came together on the day:
There are few tried and true recipes in my world of party throwing. My requirements are simple: ability to make ahead and tasty. I find any excuse to use this incredible recipe for humus (adapted from inspiredtaste.net)! This Alton Brown-inspired guacamole recipe is also easy to make and not too spicy for guests of all ages and tolerances. The final piece to snackadium food was a take on pigs ‘n blankets: “pigs ‘n pretzels.” They were delicious and a very easy finger food for all ages!
Any kids party (in my opinion) can benefit from jello! It’s an easy finger food, sweet but not too unhealthy, and it’s easy to make. This jello is incredible and can be modified to fit any color combination with little effort. The colored layers are more distinguishable with the evaporated milk, but it can also be stunning as a dairy-free option with jello-only layers.
When displaying food, I like to find excuses to try new tools and unique pieces. For a fall party (and even possible in the early winter), this meant trying my hand at pumpkin carving for a fruit bowl! It ended up working surprisingly well and was really fun to put together. Incidentally, any large fruit/gourd will work for this purpose. You just need something with a sturdy enough “rind” to hold up to all the cutting.
Of course, no party would be complete without dessert, and for this first birthday party, that meant cupcakes and a smash cake. If you’re looking for a visually impressive and functionally practical display option, this homemade cupcake stand is simple and inexpensive, is reusable, and even swivels!
These chocolate + peanut butter buckeye desserts fit the bill as being both amazingly tasty and thematically appropriate to support our favorite college team.
Sometimes food presentation also involves the bigger picture. For us, this usually means trying to decorate the tabletops and providing some signage to pull everything together. I thoroughly enjoyed making a “field” for the dessert table and a “stadium complex” for the main food (complete with pretzel “cars” (recipe and tutorial) and a jello “practice field“). We also had some fun making the table signs as absurdly thematic as possible (“Concessions,” “Hydration Station,” and “Sugar Bowl“).
Bringing a table together is a great joy, especially when there are so many pieces at play. To bring this process “to life,” check out the video below:
Some extra table ideas that I picked up along the way:
- “Penalty flag” napkins (printable label here)
- “Football” painted tin cans for utensils
- Condiment dispensers and printable labels
Especially when you are expecting children for a party, it’s a good idea to have ways for everyone to stay entertained. Having various ways for kids to entertain themselves is a relief to parents who will be able to enjoy a conversation with limited interruptions, and a benefit to the host as people will want to linger if their kids are having a good, safe time with minimal adult supervision. For us, this meant having options for kids between 0-4 years old.
After watching our 3 year old occupy herself for hours with these mosaic sticker projects, I decided to come up with a basic version myself. Since we were also dealing with curious toddlers and babies, I also wanted to set-up a couple of playpens to “protect” the older ones while they delved into their stickers. The bigger kids thought it was hilarious to be in the playpens (which are usually relegated to their younger siblings).
When catering to crawlers and toddlers, it’s hard to avoid all potential hazards. After checking with guests about any known allergies, we felt relatively safe providing a ball pit and balloons for the more mobile age group. We have used this inflatable pool before and LOVE it, but this one worked well too (a little tall for the younger toddlers). The toddlers loved jumping in the ball pit, and the balloons were a huge hit and continued to provide some interest once they were dispersed around the house and backyard (the older kids also had a great time with it once their little siblings got bored).
Providing additional ways to entertain guests doesn’t just have to be for the kids. We’d been looking for an excuse to acquire a cornhole set (or “bags,” depending on where you went to college) for years, and a football party seemed as good a reason as any to finally make it happen. The set ended up being relatively easy to build and took the better part of one weekend to complete from beginning to end, including the bags themselves.
Favor bags have gotten a bad name recently for being over-indulgent and superfluous. For me, I like favor bags as a way for kids to bring the party home. For a themed party, it’s also fun to give kids a way to “dress up” for the party if they choose (or dress their parents up) and any other small toys that will keep them entertained during the party itself. With that in mind, we provided a goodie bag filled with eye black stickers, personalized footballs, and child-sized foam fingers (as well as the sticker project for our preschool-aged guests).
Here are additional simple and inexpensive football crafts and entertainment ideas for kids:
Whether you’re celebrating a birthday party, a tailgate, or a specific game, I hope these ideas will help you throw the perfect football party for your friends and family!