Posted by Dan O'Malley in Home Design

​Ahh, fall is upon us, which means it’s football season and you are ready to host the perfect game day party! We’ve got the tips you need in order to make your guests rave about your event for sports seasons to come.

Planning Your Game Day Party

​One of the most critical things to know when you are hosting a party is to determine how many guests you are going to have at your event. Gauge who your party is for and go from there!

Will children be in attendance, or is your event just for adults? Be sure to send out invitations a few weeks in advance and ask for RSVPs so you can determine the number of people who will attend by creating a Facebook event or simply sending an email.

​The next step is to determine the time of day at which your event will take place. If game time is at noon, invite people over for a nice brunch and serve snacks during the game and after! If it is a mid-day start time or a night game, heavier meal-replacement hors d’oeuvres allow your guests to snack over the course of the event.

Tip: Time of day will help you to determine if you are going to have a full meal or just finger food snacks. No one wants to leave hungry!

​When planning your menu, be sure to verify if any of your guests have food allergies or are gluten-free. Gluten-free options are readily available at most grocery stores.

Tip: Keep costs down and make the event a little less stressful by making the event a potluck where everyone brings an hors d’oeuvre or side-dish. This also gives your guests an opportunity to show off their favorite recipes!

​Be sure to have plenty of cups, plates, napkins, and utensils in your team’s colors for your guests! Keep extra serving pieces on hand just in case a guest brings something and forgets a serving utensil.

Decorations like balloons, table confetti, and sport- or team-specific themed items in your team’s colors will add to the spirit of the event. And, be sure to have plenty of water, soda, and mixers on hand.

Tip: If your budget is getting depleted quickly, suggest people bring their own beer, wine, and liquor to keep the cost down.

Game Day Snack and Menu Ideas

​Here are some delicious menus and snack ideas for your game day party:

Brunch Menu:

  • Egg Casseroles
  • Quiches
  • Fruit Cups
  • Muffins, Pastries, and Bagels with Cream Cheese and Preserves
  • Vanilla Greek Yogurt Cups with Fruit and Granola

Finger Foods and Hors D’oeuvres:

  • Walking Tacos
  • Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers
  • Buffalo Chicken Dip
  • Individual 7 Layer Dip Cups
  • Bacon Jalapeno Cheese Ball
  • Slow Cooker Little Smokies
  • Baked Chicken Wings
  • Party Sliders: Ham & Cheese, Philly Cheesesteak, Burgers
  • Totchos (Tater Tot Nachos)
  • BBQ Meatballs
  • Desserts: Cupcakes, “Nutter Butter Fans,” Football brownies, or “Field Sheet Cake”

​Or if cooking is not your forte, order subs from a local sub shop and cut into individual pieces.

Pizza is always a good idea, and more and more pizza joints or other game-day favorite restaurants now offer items like chicken wings, salads, and appetizers in their catering menu.

Simply grab a vegetable platter and dip, pour some chips and dip in a bowl, a couple boxes of cookies, and voila! Your table is full of all kinds of (easy) game day favorites.

Games for Halftime

​You can provide hours of sideline entertainment for your guests by providing games for before game time, during halftime, and after the game is over. Since weather can be a factor, be sure to have some indoor game options as well.


  • Ladder Ball
  • Tumbling Timbers (aka Giant Jenga)
  • Bean Bags (aka Cornhole)
  • Horseshoes
  • Quarterback Touchdown Football Toss
  • Bucket Ball
  • Sack Races
  • Kan-Jam
  • Touch or Flag Football Game


  • Jenga
  • Cards
  • Game of Truth and Lies
  • Uno
  • Cards Against Humanity Family Edition
  • Taboo
  • Pictionary

​Or, add a little more interest to the game, as well as some friendly competition, and introduce football squares!

Winners are determined at the end of each quarter as well as the final score, by looking at the last number in each teams’ score and then matching those numbers on the grid and seeing who filled out that particular square. Take it up a notch by creating a friendly wager and by having each square cost a dollar or two. The winner at the end of each quarter and the final will walk out with an extra special souvenir to remember your party by!

Getting Your Home Ready for Game Day Guests

​Now that you’ve got every detail covered, it’s time to make sure your house is prepared to accommodate your guests! Sending your invitations out enough time in advance should give you a pretty good idea of how many people to expect. Once you have your rough number, prepare your home accordingly.

​If you have an open-concept home, using your kitchen and living room area is a great choice for your party! This way, you can run back and forth to the kitchen when snacks or drinks get low without missing the big game! You can also keep an eye on guests’ cups or plates, and they can find your trashcan without too much of an effort (to help you with cleanup!).

​If you have a game room or basement, you can more easily consolidate your celebration to one area of your home. You also have all of your game options for halftime ready in the same room!

One thing to consider if hosting your party here, however, is to make sure hauling food and drinks isn’t going to be too much of a pain or be too messy. If you’re having your food catered, take everything (including plasticware) straight to this room.

If you’re making your menu yourself, invest in enough serving trays to make your load easier to transport from the grill or kitchen.

​Especially when everyone wants to get out and enjoy a beautiful fall day, ushering your guests to the backyard is another great option for in between quarters.

Sunshine, food straight from the grill, and your outdoor games from the list above are all perfectly accessible this way! Make sure to tell your guests to bring their sunglasses and dress warmly if needed.

​When it comes to cleanup, you probably will feel like that’s the last thing you want to think about after a long day of hosting and cheering! Cleanup can wait. Kick off those shoes, reclaim your favorite spot on the couch, and watch the highlight reel. You earned it!

​Get out your jersey, call your caterer, and clean your house this week: Saturday is the big day! What do your guests love most about coming to your house for the game?


Dan O'Malley
Dan O'Malley


Dan O’Malley is the Vice President of Product Development for M/I Homes.With over 30 years of expertise in residential architecture and design, Dan has been overseeing the product needs of the company's 16 divisions located throughout the Midwest, Southeast, Nashville and Texas for the past 12 years. Before joining M/I Homes, he was a partner in the Chicago office of BSB Design, a national residential architectural firm, for 14 years. Dan is an expert in all aspects of single-family and multifamily design and has received several awards for his successful projects. He is also a popular speaker at various industry events, including the International Builder’s Show, Midwest Builder’s Show, and Multi-Housing World.

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