How to Host the Perfect Big Game Potluck

What's a football party without food?

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The Big Game is quickly approaching. For some, that means a really great football game; for others, it means a really great excuse to throw a party. And still yet for others, it means both a really great football game and a really great excuse to throw a party.

If you fall into that last category, you probably don’t want to spend your entire day prepping, cooking and cleaning, but you probably don’t mind dedicating some time to hosting duties — as long as you can relax and enjoy the game, too. Enter, the age-old potluck dinner.

The Big Game is the perfect opportunity to host a potluck. It’s casual but fun, and guests can get creative with their dishes. If you’re unsure how to get started, look no further. I’m breaking down exactly how to host a football potluck — and how to pull it off without a glitch.

1: PICK THE MAIN COURSE

Commit to cooking the main course, and ask guests to fill in sides, appetizers and desserts. Invite friends as early as possible, and send out an online sign-up sheet to avoid duplicate dishes. Be sure to include your main course on the sign-up sheet, so guests can plan accordingly. Consider one of these tasty main course options:

Chili

Slow Cooker Texas Brisket Chili

Slow Cooker Texas Brisket Chili

Chili is a slow cooker fall favorite.

Searching for an easy, low-maintenance main course? Whip up a batch of chili in your slow-cooker, and you’re all set.

Mini Burgers

Super Bowl party buffet table

Super Bowl party buffet table

Creative and inexpensive decorating ideas for your Super Bowl buffet table

Photo by: Sam Henderson

Sam Henderson

Nothing beats a burger on game day. Make them mini so guests have plenty of room to try all the food.

Meatball Marinara Dippers

Photo by: George Foreman Grills

George Foreman Grills

This delicious meatball recipe gives you the option of using ground beef, veal or pork, so you can cater the dish to your guests’ preferences.

Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches

Rotisserie Chicken Trick

Rotisserie Chicken Trick

Need to serve your guests protein-packed sandwiches, but don’t have the time or skill set to cook something up from scratch? Pick up a rotisserie chicken from the supermarket; then pull it apart and serve it as barbecue chicken sandwiches or sliders.

Looking to save money and time? Use a rotisserie chicken and store-bought barbecue sauce to create tasty barbecue sandwiches.

Rosemary Smoked Chicken Wings

super bowl 2014 1

super bowl 2014 1

Fresh rosemary and garlic give these smoked wings plenty of kick. 

Photo by: Image by Anjali Pinto

Image by Anjali Pinto

Fresh rosemary, garlic and lemon juice take these chicken wings to the next level.

2: SET UP A DRINK STATION

Whether you have a bar, a bar cart or some unused counter space, create a station dedicated to drinks. This is totally customizable depending on your and your guests’ preferences.

Photo by: Marc Kelly

Marc Kelly

Beer is a super-simple option that’s totally appropriate for a football game. Simply fill a large tub with ice and a variety of bottled beer. Set out glasses and garnishes.

3: MAKE A CENTERPIECE

Create your own DIY centerpiece to ensure your dining (or coffee) table feels festive. Try one of these DIY centerpiece ideas:

Football Field

Cover a small cardboard box in brown cork scrapbook paper, and fill it with artificial wheat grass. Complete your centerpiece with a miniature football and a small chalkboard sign. 

Football Terra-Cotta Pot

Use a paint pen and a terra-cotta pot to create football-like centerpieces. Fill with flowers of your choice.

Vintage Trophy

Fill a vintage trophy with paper shred in your team’s colors, and top it with a coordinating spray-painted football.

Team Color Vases

Use balloons in your team’s colors for this project. Cut off the neck of a balloon, and stretch it around the bottom of a small vase. Repeat with each vase, and fill them with your favorite blooms.

Football Pinata

Buy or make a football pinata, and display it atop synthetic turf on a cake stand. Accent the pinata with candies or noisemakers in your team’s colors.

4: DECORATE, BUT KEEP IT SIMPLE

Decorate for your potluck with football and team-inspired decor, but aim to keep it simple. Guests will be most interested in your TV, so there’s no need to spend loads of money and time on decorations. Try one of our easy decorating ideas:

Football Field Table Runner

Casual Football Party Table

Casual Football Party Table

Photo by: Debroah Whitlaw Llewellyn

Debroah Whitlaw Llewellyn

Use green paper and chalk to create a football field-inspired runner for your snack table.

Football-Themed Cups and Plates

Stock Up on Disposable Cups and Plates

Stock Up on Disposable Cups and Plates

Score! These are a great deal. Football 16-ounce plastic cups, $8 for a set of 50, orientaltrading.com; Creative Converting Tail Gate Rush 9"-diameter paper plates, $3.50 for a set of 8, partyatlewis.com

Photo by: Merko Metzinger/Studio D

Merko Metzinger/Studio D

Buy disposable cups and plates themed to match the party. This inexpensive option will provide a touch of decor while also making cleanup a breeze.

Penalty Flag Napkins

Put Napkins in a Penalty Flag Bucket

Put Napkins in a Penalty Flag Bucket

Use 3/4"-wide black electrical tape to make stripes on a white metal bucket. Design a sign on your computer, or print out our template (at hgtv.com/super-bowl-party) on thick paper, and tape it to the bucket. Fill with yellow paper napkins.

Photo by: Marko Metzinger/Studio D

Marko Metzinger/Studio D

Make stripes on a white metal bucket with 3/4-inch-wide black electrical tape. Print out our penalty flag sign on thick paper, and tape it to the bucket. Fill with yellow napkins.

Football Paper Lanterns

Buy a pack of football paper lanterns, and attach tissue paper tassels to the bottom. Hang your lanterns anywhere that needs a festive touch.

5: FILL IN ANY MISSING DISHES

A day or two before the party, check the online sign-up sheet to see what guests are bringing. If there are any large gaps in the menu, make a last-minute run to the grocery store, and prepare an extra dish or two. (It’s also a good idea to have easy snacks on hand, just in case food runs out — think pretzels or chips and dip.) Try one of our recipes to complete your menu:

If You're Lacking in Desserts:

Cookie Butter Football Dip 00:57

Add some fun to your football party table with our quick and easy cookie butter football dip.

If You're Lacking in Appetizers:

3 Delicious Tailgate Dips 01:12

Serve up these three tailgate dips and score a home run with your guests.

30 Favorite Game-Day Recipes

See All Photos
Keep football fans fueled up with these recipes for mouthwatering dips, sliders and more.

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