Courtesy of BBQ Guys, bbqguys.com.
The Super Bowl is just a few weeks away and planning for all the fun to watch the game is just beginning! Chances are you won’t be attending the event, so what’s the next best plan? Tailgating at home, or “homegating”, is the best alternative for game-day gatherings when you can’t score tickets. You’ll appreciate the convenience of your own private tailgate party and there’s no need to be overwhelmed by the prospect of doing so at your house. Here are some helpful tips to help you get in game shape.
1. Make a Game Plan
Any type of party needs careful preparation, but the risks of COVID-19 make planning even more important. Start by brushing up on local, state, and CDC guidelines regarding size of gatherings, then form your guest list based on that advice and how many people your home can accommodate.
Everyone has differing comfort levels concerning the virus and preventative protocols, so it’s extremely important that you’re all on the same page and the expectations are clear before the first beer or bag of chips is opened on game day.
The game starts at 6:30 EST so if the weather is fine and you’re partying outdoors, give the lighting a test run before kickoff. Harsh flood lights can bring down the party atmosphere, whereas string lights or lanterns create true party vibes. Weather is another concern that needs your attention. You can’t go without a patio heater or a fire pit with the chillier temperatures.
2. Keep a Clean Locker Room
Sanitation is one of the best defenses against COVID-19. Homegating hosts should embrace this strategy by setting up sanitation stations complete with gloves, disinfectant wipes, tissues, hand sanitizer, and no-touch trash cans.
The most shared space will be the bathroom, so make sure it has plenty of hand soap, paper towels, wipes, and trash bins. Stashing a bottle or two of hand sanitizer in the bathroom is also a good idea.
3. Tackle the Tailgate Trappings
Set up a pop-up canopy or tent, hang team flags and banners, incorporate team colors throughout your outdoor space, get your speakers primed for feel-good tunes. Most importantly, don’t forget the outdoor TV.
Set up stations of yard games, like cornhole, washers or ladder ball. Guests can break up into smaller groups and rotate play. Football bingo is a fun activity everyone can enjoy in their own space. Just make enough bingo sheets and distribute them before kickoff.
4. Get in Space
If partying indoors, place chairs at least 6 feet apart. Provide closer seating for groups of people who have been sheltering together. If you don’t have enough seating, ask your guests to bring their own tailgate chairs.
Identify areas that will potentially attract multiple people at once and devise a plan to keep foot traffic to a minimum. Prevent your fridge or cooler from becoming a germy touchpoint by making your home tailgate a BYOB affair with tailgaters showing up with their own cooler, koozie, and bottle openers.
5. Be the Equipment Manager
It’s more important now than ever with sanitation at the forefront of every gathering. Prepare and distribute individual cups, utensil sets, condiments, seasoning packets, and anything else guests will need for a traditional tailgate experience.
Write names on each cup so no mix-ups occur. Keep a surplus of cloth masks on hand for those forgetful friends in the group. If you have the time, skill, and desire to go the extra mile, make team-colored masks and hand them out to guests as they arrive.
6. Follow the Playbook
it’s going to take a team effort for a socially distanced homegate to work. So, don’t hesitate to remind guests of your ground rules as they arrive and point out when folks are getting a little too close together. Try to find a balance between taking a firm stance and not being too overbearing. You want guests to kick back and feel like they’re right outside the stadium.
7. Seal the Deal with a Pregame Meal
So, what’s an at-home tailgate host to do about feeding the masses? We have a few ideas for you:
Premade Tailgate Meals: Cook whatever you’re serving beforehand and package individual portions like a box lunch. Set appetizers out pre-portioned, on TV trays styled with team colors before guests arrive.
Safe-to-Share Tailgate Meals: Items like burgers, hot dogs, and chicken wings are typical tailgate fare. Either have your resident grill master distribute food or let guests pull off the grill with a gloved hand on shared tongs.
At-Home Tailgate Buffet Line: Designate one person to serve everyone. Provide visual cues to help guests stay 6 feet apart and wear masks when they receive their plate. Place hand sanitizer near the line to ensure germ-free hands.