The Perfect Game Plan for a Football Party

The game is the main event, of course, but food and drinks are close behind. Here are some tips to help you throw the perfect game day party.

1. When you make a party checklist, be sure not to forget any of the following items, which you'll need to buy, rent or borrow: coffeemaker, serving dishes (and Sterno, if you're using a chafing dish), flatware, napkins, plates, plastic and/or paper glasses and cups, pitchers, serving bowls and platters, candles.

2. Where are you going to put the coats? I love this idea: Install brackets for a chinning bar into a doorway, and hang the bar as a coat rack whenever you entertain. This also effectively blocks the entrance into a room that you don't want used by party guests. (If you're using any type of coat rack, don't forget that you'll need hangers.)

3. Is storage room in the refrigerator tight? Move condiments, jellies and other items you won't be using at party time to a Styrofoam chest with ice, or leave them outside. You can also spray cake pans with vegetable oil and make ice blocks in them, then haul your picnic cooler out of storage and pop the ice and perishables inside.

4. You may be planning to buy paper goods in your team's colors, or use the colors to decorate cupcakes or tint cookies or cake. Here's a quick trick to use with angel food cake mix: Spread l/4 of the batter into the pan, and sprinkle your choice of colored gelatin mix on top; repeat three times.

5. Another fun, decorative idea: In some specialty candy stores, you can buy M&Ms by the pound in a variety of colors and make a custom mix.

6. Decorate the buffet table in team colors too: Buy sequins or confetti sold by the scoop, and sprinkle them on a clear white tablecloth. Then cover the cloth with a clear plastic table covering (or buy a plastic shower liner).

7. Carry out the decorating theme with napkins as well. Lap-sized buffet napkins (20" square) are nice, but expensive. Save money by making your own napkins—it's easy! Since these are for one-time-only use, don't bother hemming. Just use the nifty scissors you find in craft stores to give them a special edge.

8. Also make sure you've got a sufficient amount of powder-room supplies—guest towels, soap, tissue and toilet tissue—and that the room is stocked before the party starts.

9. Put Post-Its on the buffet table and in every serving dish to remind you what goes where (and to make sure you've got a serving piece assigned for every item). You may want to keep a checklist on the fridge too. There has been at least one party where I realized too late that I'd forgotten to serve some of the food!

Plus, watch our exclusive interview with Baltimore Ravens coach's wife, Ingrid Harbaugh:

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