Whether you’re having three pals over or a massive group of gridiron fans, you, as host of a big game party, need to hit all the right notes. That means: a proper home-theater setup, proper food and drinks, and proper decor and ambience. And that takes some setup. Don’t wait until the grand finale of the football season to lock in your game-day party assemblage — and don’t settle for the standard that a few beers and chips is enough to respect the game, and your guests.
A good house party combines the conveniences of home with the social camaraderie of a parking-lot tailgate. This ultimate home tailgate buying guide covers all the essentials you’ll need to rival the owner’s-box experience, minus the traffic and security pat-downs. Welcome to the big game, done right — and remember, though September to February is pigskin time, all this gear can, if need be, be used for non-football events, too.
All the Basics
The sights, smells and energy experienced in the stadium can never be replicated at home, but there’s much to be said for watching a game on television. You’ll see more of the play-by-play action, and with the astounding quality of today’s OLED and 4K televisions, you’ll see details you’ve never seen, even with the first generation of high-def sets. In fact, the upscaling engines on the new 4K units will kick up your experience hugely, even if it’s not actually a 4K broadcast.
The gear below combines the best-available picture quality on the market today with powerful audio capable of delivering immersive sound. Even when you’re just warming up for the real thing with a few plays in Madden, you can enjoy full support for the latest in movie technology, including 4k and Dolby Atmos. Finally, because no one should have to miss a moment of the game while manning the grill or hanging outside, there’s also a weatherproof secondary setup for the patio or deck.
Regardless of what gear you ultimately settle on, pay attention to how it’s all laid out in your room. Keep the seating distance optimal — between eight and 10 feet for 55- to 70-inch televisions, and set the height and tilt angle of the television so the viewers’ eyes are perpendicular to the screen. None of your guests should have to strain to see the action. Finally, remember that very few televisions have optimal audio setups built in, so you’ll want to ensure that the audio is enhanced with a sound bar at the very least. Otherwise, the television’s speakers will have to work too hard to try to accommodate higher volumes, resulting in distortion and overall low-quality sound.
Clarity Gives You a Closer Look
LG OLED65B6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
New to LG’s 2016 lineup, this 65-inch non-curved TV has everything any sports fan would want. Its picture quality is incredible, with intense blacks generated by an OLED display capable of turning off individual pixels. This means greater contrast, and thus greater detail. Combined with the 4K upscaling engine, with which 1080p content is digitally analyzed and enhanced to near-4K quality, the image is sharp in the extreme. (Note: 4K content is available from both Amazon and Netflix.) The built-in wi-fi and streaming apps also mean you’ll be able to supplement your TV thrills with content from YouTube, Hulu, Amazon, Netflix and others.
Vizio M65-C1 70-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED HDTV
Great Value TV: Vizio’s own line of ultra-HD televisions has tons of perks, beyond stellar image quality. Start with the remote — the flip side has a full QWERTY keyboard, which is great for entering passwords or searching for content. Each set’s web apps can also be displayed and organized on a full screen, making them easier to access and manage. The great picture — in part the work of “local dimming,” which selectively controls pixel brightness for enhanced contrast — will blow your guests away, and the value is one last thing to brag about.
Sony VPLHW65ES Home Theater Projector
Best High-End Projector: If 65 or 70 inches doesn’t quite do it for you, how about 10 feet? If you have the viewing area, a projector might be your best strategy. Sony makes some of the best, featuring bright and high-def displays that will feel as crisp as an LCD screen of the same size. And, the lamp life is good for 6,000 hours; that’s a lot of football.
BenQ HT2150ST Gaming Video Projector
Best Value Projector: Ten feet still not good enough? How about 25? This machine will ably broadcast the game on the side of your house if you want it to. The BenQ packs versatility in a small package; it can project a 100-inch display from a few feet away, and its automatic image correction assures that you’ll still have a nicely rectangular image, whether you’re broadcasting from the side of the room, the floor, or the ceiling.
Silver Ticket 120 Inch
Best Projector Screen: Even if you have a perfectly white wall, you’ll still want something to project your display on. This high-quality screen can accommodate projections up to 110 inches, and can be assembled and mounted on a wall in just 30 minutes. The rod-tensioning system ensures there’ll be no wrinkles or puckers in the stretchy vinyl screen, so your viewing experience will be smooth and satisfying.
It’s the Audio that Brings You Into the Action
Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD Receiver
Best High-End Receiver: Put some horsepower behind your home theater with this 124W, nine-channel Dolby Atmos receiver, designed to power speakers in even the largest of rooms. These generate sparkling sound, whether it’s from the field during halftime or the announcer’s box during the game. But it’s more than just an audio driver. It’s also packed with video circuitry that can upscale standard-def signals to 1080p, and high-def to ultra-high-def 4K. Rounding out its home-theater chops are full wi-fi and Bluetooth connectivity to permit streaming from your own devices or services, including Sirius XM, Spotify, Pandora and more.
Onkyo TX-NR656 Home Theater Receiver
Best Value Receiver: This more affordable receiver option brings 7.2 channels, along with the new Dolby Atmos multi-dimensional sound system. It’ll drive up to 170 watts per channel and let you stream music from your devices over Bluetooth or Airplay; internet streaming services are also accessible through the Onkyo Remote app.
Definitive Technology BP9020 Tower Speaker with Built-In Powered Subwoofer
Best Sound Tower: If you’re looking for an ultra-premium speaker tower, stop here. This sleek tower includes an integrated subwoofer and a built-in amplifier tuned to deliver life-like, three-dimensional sound. The secret lies in the Forward Focused Bipolar Array technology, with which each speaker deploys two sets of drivers, front and rear, to radiate sound in all directions, as in real life. Start with two of these, then quickly upgrade to four.
Definitive Technology A60 ATMO-A Atmos Driver
Best Supplemental Sound Driver: Designed to work in partnership with the BP-8060ST tower speaker, this supplemental module fires sound upward to bounce off the ceiling and back down to the viewer. It’s all part of the new Dolby Atmos strategy for sound delivery. Instead of channels, it treats sounds as objects that originate from specific areas of the video scene, particularly in films. These drivers help fine-tune that delivery. After the game, queue up a movie to really show how this system rocks.
Definitive Technology CS9060 Powered Subwoofer
Best Subwoofer: You know the heavy bass that accompanies the animations during NFL game opening credits and commercial breaks? When those bombastic tracks are pumped through this eight-inch powered subwoofer, your house will shake. This subwoofer has two 4.5-inch mid-range drivers that pump out bass far above their weight thanks to DT’s patented Balanced Double Surround System technology. This also minimizes distortion and “high-dispersion” sound, ensuring that the audio is distributed evenly throughout the room and enhancing clarity. Bonus: It only requires an inch of clearance at the top to achieve its full effect, so you can tuck it into a shelf if you don’t have the open space to spare.
Pioneer SP-PK52FS Andrew Jones 5.1 Home Theater Speaker Package
Best Value Speaker Package: This complete, affordable home-theater package includes and 8-inch powered subwoofer and oversized magnets for improved bass, as well as a gorgeous overall design.
Maintain Control of the Game
TiVo Roamio Pro HD DVR
Best Home DVR: It’s probably time to upgrade your DVR. Two-channel recording just isn’t doing it anymore. This new TiVo records up to six shows at a once and up to 450 hours of HD programming. It’ll also stream to your iPad or iPhone from anywhere around the house. At game time, you’ll be able to replay the best plays — or best commercials.
Microsoft Xbox One S 1TB Console + Madden NFL 17 Bundle
Best Game(r)-Friendly Console: Run your own pre-game game with the new Xbox One S and Madden NFL 17 Bundle. This special-edition console has a 1TB hard drive and a preloaded copy of the game. That’s just the start of it, though — the Xbox One is a full digital media wizard, letting you flip effortlessly between live television, video games and built-in apps, such as those from NFL and ESPN. It integrates seamlessly with your DVR and receiver, and the Xbox controllers can be used as remote controls for all your content sources.
Logitech Harmony Elite Universal Remote
Best High-End Remote Control: Universal remotes are the great unsung essentials of modern home theaters, but in the past they’ve been fickle and complicated to set up, requiring a sync-up with a computer. Logitech’s new Harmony Elite does away with the hassle thanks to its convenient smartphone-based app setup and its built-in versatility. You can control up to 15 devices and easily program which ones must be powered on and in what configuration, based on your activity — gaming, television, DVD, etc. And with “Home Control” you can also operate lights, locks, thermostats, stereos, blinds and more from the remote’s mobile app. To top it off, the color touchscreen, vibration feedback and rechargeable battery are also hugely helpful.
Sennheiser RS 185
Best High-End Wireless Headphones: Hosting a game-day celebration or at-home tailgate for one? That’s cool. Tune out distraction and truly hear every on-field bit of chatter, every grunt and every audible nuance of the game with these wireless headphones from audio giant Sennheiser. Simply connect the transmitter, charge up the cans and enter the zone.
Sennheiser RS 175 RF
Best Value Wireless Headphones: These compact, form-fitted headphones have multiple modes for heavy bass or surround sound, so you can easily customize your experience. Digital wireless signal transmission remains clear and accurate even if you’re moving from room to room.
Nothing Quite Like Al Fresco Entertaining
SunbriteTV Signature Series Black Outdoor 46″
Best Outdoor TV: A separate television for your patio? Hell yeah. The SunbriteTV 46-inch HDTV is weather resistant and durable enough to sit permanently affixed to your patio. Run the game inside and out — or the game outside and a movie inside, or the game outside and Madden inside. You get the idea.
Boston Acoustics SOUNDWARE Indoor/Outdoor Speaker
Best Compact Outdoor Speaker: Deploy this compact speaker as needed to add music or boost the game audio track into nearby rooms (or the patio). It’s weatherproof and approved for outdoor use.
Bose SoundTouch System
Great Wireless Portable Speaker: Throw one of these in a corner, and you can stream music or daisy-chain several speakers (inside or out). With six preset channels, programmed and controllable through a smartphone app, the SoundTouch will allow you to play from Spotify and Pandora, among other services, without needing to use a tablet or smartphone. You can also stream your own music collection as your guests are roaming about.
Canon EOS Rebel T6i with 18-55mm Lens
Best Camera for Capturing the Moment: You’ll want to snag some shots of your crew for memories (or incriminating evidence). Canon’s T6i has an updated light-metering system that aids with lighting on your indoor shots, in addition to helping eradicate red-eye and overexposed faces and figures. Its Near Field Communication system and wi-fi will let you instantly upload the images, so you can post your own party’s action to social media before the first quarter’s over.
Sony DSC-RX100 M III
Best Compact Camera: This compact shooter will let you take your game-day stealth to the next level, capturing more spontaneous action than you can with more, well, obvious cameras. The built-in Zeiss 24-70mm lens on this 20.1MP camera will capture crystal-clear images, and the tilt screen will let you experiment with new angles without straining to see the view. It also shoots video, to capture all the home-team touchdown celebratory dances.
FujiFilm Instax Mini 8
Best Affordable Instant Camera: The idea is a throwback — instant prints shooting straight out of your camera — but the execution is contemporary. The new INSTAX Mini 8 has automatic exposure measurement that guides you to the perfect setting, and a High-Key mode for brighter pictures that still have a soft glow to them — perfect for atmospheric party shots.
The Inner Workings of the Big Operation
AmazonBasics High-Speed HDMI Cable
Best Cables: First rule of home-theater setups: Don’t skimp on the cables. Get several of these gold-plated, 6-foot HDMI cables to string up your Xbox, cable box, Blu-ray player or computer with no degradation in image quality or reliability.
InVision TV Wall Mount
Best Wall Mount: This specially designed bracket keeps your television close to the wall (under two inches) while still allowing you to tilt and extend the television as needed. This lets you optimize the view based on how many people are in the room and where they’re gathered.
Belkin BE 12-Outlet Surge Protector
Best Power Regulator: A surge protector tucked in behind your home-theater gear is a must — but aren’t they all the same? Not even remotely. This Belkin 12-outlet protector can generate 1,875 watts of output for your devices and protect against severe power surges with its 4,000-joule AC suppression. Translation: your goods are safe.
AmazonBasics Ultra-Thin Indoor HDTV Antenna
Best Option for the Cord-Cutter: More and more of us are cutting cable these days thanks to the increasing abundance of content-streaming services and high-def broadcasts over the public airwaves. With this inexpensive indoor HDTV antenna, you’ll be able to rope in free, uncompressed broadcasts from up to 35 miles away from your local tower.
All the Basics
The grill is the centerpiece of any true tailgate. We chose a core setup to elevate your home’s culinary offerings, and added every tool you’ll need to prepare the best smoked meats, pizza, seafood boils, chili and more. Don’t worry, we know that gear is just half the battle — there are plenty of cool new books in here as well, filled with great recipes for every kind of football-friendly entrée, appetizer and snack.
But first, a few pro tips:
1. Watch your grill placement. Those things vent significant heat from the rear, so make sure there’s nothing behind the grill that could light up — especially the side of your house. Let the grill vent into an open area.
2. Consider placing a second television in the kitchen or patio where the grilling is taking place. It’ll spread out the fun and let casual fans still keep an eye on the game while socializing and eating.
3. Consider themed dishes that reflect the teams in the game — or your own favorite team, for good measure. Clam chowder for New England, bratwurst for Green Bay, peach cobbler for Atlanta, etc.
The Hard Goods
Grill, Fry and Bake Your Way to Culinary Excellence
Lynx L2600G Sedona
Best High-End Grill: Invest in a lifetime of grilling excellence with this ridiculously full-featured center. The 36-inch grill includes a rotisserie, a double side burner, a 20-inch refrigerator with an interior light and can dispenser in the door, and a full storage system beneath the grill for your cleaners, utensils and other supplies. You won’t mind missing the game with this masterpiece at your fingertips.
Karubecue C-60/SS BBQ Smoker Pit
Best Meat Smoker: Creating great barbecue ribs, chicken and beef in a smoker takes precision, in both the transfer of heat and the quality of the smoke. A good flame will create clean smoke, and thus more flavorful food, while smoke thick with creosote will make barbecue black and bitter. Karubecue’s smoker uses a specially designed firebox and draft mechanism to regulate the temperature to your preference — making perfect meats every time.
Bayou Classic SP10 High-Pressure Outdoor Gas Cooker
Best Wind-Resistant Cooker: When cooking with an open flame outdoors, your greatest enemy is wind. This portable high-pressure cooker — think chili and stew — protects against flame-dousing breezes with a 360-degree screen and pressure regulator that will ensure the flame stays consistently strong.
Bayou Classic 32-Quart Fryer/Boiler
Best Deep Fryer: Need to fry three chickens in one quarter of regulation play? This is your fryer. With a 32-quart stockpot, the Bayou Classic can fry a full turkey in 45 minutes or so, and the internal basket can be adjusted to boil seafood and vegetables. It makes unforgettable meats tout de suite.
Pizzacraft Pizzeria Pronto Outdoor Pizza Oven PC6000
Best Pizza Oven: Pizza delivery is always a dicey proposition during big games, so take your party’s fate into your own hands with this propane-powered home pizza oven. The Pizzacraft can reach cooking temperatures of over 700 degrees Fahrenheit, which means your pies will be ready in just five minutes. The cordierite pizza stone has a heat-diffusing hollow core for even baking, and a vent at the top will release moisture to ensure your pizzas don’t get soggy.
All the Tools to Make the Cookout Complete
Magnifeko Grilling Gloves
Best Heat Resistance: Never used grilling gloves? They do make sense — the grill is hot, and so are the tools, platters and bowls you’ll be heating up with your food. These Kevlar-and-silicone gloves are designed with a cotton interior lining that allows air to circulate, while the Kevlar fibers on the outside provide serious heat protection — up to 923 degrees Fahrenheit. They’re waterproof, as well, which will protect you from scalding steam. Still not going to use gloves? Cook at your own risk.
BBQ Grill Brush by USA Kitchen Elite
Best Clean-Up Accessory: You don’t want to admit it now, but your party is going to require some industrial-strength cleanup, and the grill will likely be the epicenter of your mess. This brush has a long 18-inch handle, allowing you to put some elbow grease into it, and it uses a set of strong bristles that are designed to remove grit but never scratch your nonstick grates.
Kassa Meat Claws
Best Grilling Tool: People will know you mean business when you go after your pork, chicken or beef with these claws. The sharp talons will make quick work of your meat-shredding needs — or you can just use them to flip the meat in the oven or on the grill.
Cuisinart CSBP-100 3-in-1 Stuffed Burger Press
Best Burger Maker: When it comes to serving burgers at parties, we have one rule: No. Frozen. Patties. Use this gadget to create amazing stuffed burgers — just press once, insert your favorite cheese/olive/onion/etc. concoction, then press again. Or just use the press to make perfectly shaped burgers up to 3/4 of a pound.
Weber Style Professional-Grade Vegetable Basket
Best Veggie Buddy: This convenient basket fits perfectly on Weber charcoal, gas, or electric grills to hold delicate chopped vegetables. Grill them without damage right alongside your main course.
Propane Tank Gauge Scale
Best Tool for Keeping the Flame: This smart device will make sure you never run out of propane midway through your grilling. Just hook your tank on it and check the reading to see whether you’re good to go or you should swap in a new tank.
Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven
Best Cookware Item: Cast iron cookware is renowned for its even heating and century-spanning durability. Le Creuset throws in a dose of sheer beauty, as well, by way of colorful enamel coatings. This Dutch oven can slow cook casseroles or flash-fry meat via high-temp searing, and it works just as well on the grill as it would on your stovetop. Buy it for the game — and take it to your grave.
Lavatools Javelin Digital Food/Meat Thermometer
Affordable Kitchen Tech: This precision thermometer will take readings in just four seconds, thanks to its exceptionally small 1.6mm tapered probe, which also minimizes the puncture mark in your food. It’s accurate to +/-0.9 degrees Fahrenheit, which will help ensure your food is not just safe, but perfectly cooked, as well.
Meaty Pages Filled with Inspiration
Franklin Barbecue: A Meat-Smoking Manifesto
Best Barbecue Bible: You’ve purchased the hardware — now what? Just throw your meat on there? No. Grab this guide and consider it your master class in meat and brisket prep, courtesy of Aaron Franklin, owner of the renowned Franklin Barbecue in Austin, and San Francisco magazine’s Jordan Mackay. They’ve channeled their obsession into a solid guide that will help you make the most of the quality meats you buy (and the quality grill you’ve invested in).
Sevens Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way
Best Fire-Cooking Recipes: This collection of recipes from Patagonian chef Francis Mallmann revives ancient traditions of cooking with fire. The grilling techniques include his signature dishes, from boneless ribeye to dulce de leche pancakes.
Charred & Scruffed by Adam Perry Lang
Best Grill Technique Book: Chef Adam Perry Lang focuses on barbecue techniques, from “scruffing” meat and vegetables to cooking directly on hot coals. He espouses many unconventional, contrarian tactics, such as turning and moving meat frequently while cooking. The end result is highly concentrated flavors and textures that you can’t get any other way.
All the Basics
You can’t skimp when it comes to booze and beer stock, so it’s essential to have a well-developed plan to properly equip your home bar. The goal is to achieve the balance between the casual staples — good beer, Bloody Mary’s — and more novel drinks, to accommodate the differences in drink preferences between your guests. You’ll do well to have recipes for, say, both Old Fashioned’s and Cosmopolitans.
When it comes to sorting out how much alcohol to buy for your party, follow the advice of YouTube science pontificator Mark Rober, a former NASA engineer: If your party will be three hours long, multiply your guest list by 0.8 for wine and 4 for beer. Ultimately, though, preparation and presentation is where most parties truly fall short, and it’s there that you’ll score major points. These accessories will help you rival any bar’s ability to serve drinks — just don’t count on your guests rewarding your extra efforts with tips.
Get Ready for the Beer- and Cocktail-Swigging Spectacle
Yeti Tundra 65 Cooler
Best Cooler: Sure, it’s a pricey cooler, but the quality and durability in Yeti’s products means it’s the last cooler you’ll ever buy. (Unless, that is, you just want additional Yeti coolers.) The molded construction includes thick insulation between two walls, a secure seal to minimize air leakage, and an unbreakable hinge system. Drop this in the corner filled with drinks and ice, and when you remember where you put it three days later, your drinks will still be ice cold.
Spieglau Beer Classics Beer Connoisseur Set
Best Stein Replacement: These four beer glasses are fabricated with a platinum-finishing process to add shine and increase durability. The collection includes a stemmed pilsner, lager, wheat beer and tall pilsner glass, each designed to accentuate the respective beer’s aroma and taste.
Vitamix 5300 Series Blender
Best Mixer: Mix up masterful drinks with this pro-grade blender. It’s got a two-part lid, so you can add ingredients while it’s running, which lets you control flavor and texture. It also has a huge 64-ounce container for big batches of slushy booze, or just refreshing fruit drinks for your crowd.
EdgeStar Full Size Kegerator and Key Beer Cooler
Best Beer Fridge (read: Kegerator): Go all-in with this full-featured keg fridge. It’ll hold most size shells, and includes a black cabinet and chrome tower, shelves to convert the rig to a conventional fridge, and caster wheels to move it around easily. It’s simple to set up and includes a five-pound CO2 cylinder, so you’ll be drafting brews in zero seconds flat.
Magisso Ice Bucket
Best Serving Accessory: Ceramic is a natural insulator, so this ice bucket will help keep your ice frozen and a few drinks chilled. All you have to do is soak the bucket in water for a few minutes, and it will keep the contents cool for two to four hours. Bonus: Because it’s ceramic, you can create your own designs on the outside with chalk. We’re thinking the Jets logo, but you’re free to do whatever you want. As long as it’s the Jets logo.
Schott Zwiesel Tritan Crystal Glass Barware Pure Collection Whiskey/Small Old Fashioned
Best Barware: This beautiful and durable German crystal-glass barware is made with titanium for added strength and zirconium for crystal clarity. But most important is the shaping, which is designed to enhance every sip.
Libby Vina Martini Glass Set
Best Glassware: The complete bar is not fully complete without a quality set of martini glasses. These 12-ounce glasses look sensational and will make every sip a classic thrill.
The Bar Tools
For Cracking Cold Ones or Mixing the Good Stuff
Tovolo Sphere Ice Molds
Best Ice Upgrade: In case you take your booze neat, this is the proper way to serve liquor — with a slow-melting 2.5-inch sphere of perfectly rounded ice. They look great in your glass, and will add a level of sophistication to your party.
Stainless Steel Flat Bottle Opener
Best Bottle Opener: Buy three or four of these stainless steel pro-grade openers, because you know they’ll wander off to all corners of your place once the party starts. They’re strong and easy to handle, thanks to their smart design and dual opening ends for different bottle types.
Zing Zang Bloody Mary Mix
Best Essential Mixer: Just add vodka to this pre-mixed concoction and you’ll have an award-winning Mary at your fingertips. Made from a blend of tomato puree, vegetable juice, white distilled vinegar and seasonings and spices (Worcestershire, Tabasco), the mix taste great solo, as well.
OXO Steel Cocktail Strainer
Best Overlooked Barware Tool: OXO gets everything right about barware — this strainer’s easy to handle, rugged and stylish. And it’s fitted to work with the natural grasp of your hand. The raised lip prevents liquids from dripping down the side of the glass — keeping your bar and your cred intact.
OXO Steel Double Jigger
Best Shot Instigator: One side of this jigger measures 1-1/2 ounces, with 3/4-ounce and 1/3-ounce increments. The other side measures 1/4-ounce, 1/2-ounce and 1-ounce increments. The take-home: Perfect proportions every single time.
OXO Good Grips Plastic Cocktail Shaker
Best Cocktail Shaker: Let the pros focus on the theatrics of spinning, flying cocktail shakers. You just need to make sure your end result is a sensational drink. This shaker has a double-wall construction to prevent exterior sweating and excess cold hitting your hands — so you can shake it all night long.
Fee Brothers Bar Cocktail Bitters Complete Set
Best for an Aspiring Mixologist: This collection of 12 hard-to-find cocktail bitters will vastly increase your repertoire as a mixologist. The flavoring collection includes West Indies Orange, Lemon, Mint, Cherry, Aztec Chocolate and Cranberry, among others.
The Essential New York Times Book of Cocktails
Best Comprehensive Cocktail Book: Steve Reddicliffe, the “Quiet Drink” columnist for The New York Times, compiles 350 drink recipes from both vintage and modern eras, all arranged by cocktail type and including multiple essays on the art and pleasure of finely crafted cocktails.
Death & Co: Modern Classic Cocktails
Best Classic Cocktail Recipes: If you want to hone just the modern classics, this guide from the influential bar Death & Co. is your ticket to game-day greatness. Learn to make such contemporary classics as the Oaxaca Old-Fashioned, Naked and Famous, and the Conference — plus more than 500 additional recipes — and glean insight into drink philosophy and theory, as well.
All the Basics
When planning a party, details matter. Where will people sit? How and where are you going to serve the food? What’s your Plan B for folks who may not be too into the game — or conversely, how are you going to max out the experience for those who truly are? The best hosts understand that atmosphere and engagement are crucial to making guests feel relaxed and welcome.
As you start preparing for the party, however, keep a few things in mind. Overcrowding will cause overheating in the room, and that can kill the party’s buzz. Be careful about how many people you invite, and be thoughtful enough to keep an eye on the temperature. It’s better to be a little too cool than a little too hot — so crack the windows if you feel the action in the kitchen and the viewing areas heating up. Also, make sure there’s space for everyone, a few pillows on the floor for those who want to camp out there while watching, and good, warm lighting all around. Bright white lighting or fluorescent lighting will give everyone a nasty, ghastly pallor. Is that what you want? Didn’t think so.
Gotta Get the Atmosphere Right, Man
7 Piece Multipurpose Lazy Susan Serving Bowl
Best Serving Accessory: This sweet Lazy Susan setup might be your favorite feature at party time. It’s got a classic wood base and enough bowls for a slew of snacks and dips. Plus, you’ll make mom proud with your serving savvy. You are inviting your mom to the game, aren’t you?
Wilson Official NFL Game Duke Football
Best Active Addition: The guys and gals at your party will undoubtedly want to stretch their legs, so pop out this official classic NFL game ball and head out into the yard. Its hand-sewn leather provides terrific grip, while its design honors the lifelong New York Giants booster and owner Wellington “The Duke” Mara, who passed away in 2005.
Blu Dot Paramount Left Section Sofa
Best Indoor Seating Option: You’re watching football, sure, but style points still go a long way when your guests are inspecting your digs. This classic lounge is versatile and comfortable — push it up against the wall or let it float in the middle of the room as a centerpiece. Regardless, it’ll be a magnet for guests.
Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Starter Kit
Best Lighting Solution: Lighting is about as important to your home theater as your audio or your video package. Fine-tune your ambiance with these wi-fi-enabled light bulbs, which let you control their color and brightness from your smartphone. Make it just bright enough to see, and just warm enough that no one is straining their eyes.
Outland Firebowl Deluxe 890 Portable Propane Fire Pit
Best Fire Pit: If you’re going for the outdoor experience with your football gathering, keep your guests warm. This propane-powered fire pit safely delivers 58,000 BTUs cleanly and with zero smoke.
AmazonBasics Havana Bronze Commercial Patio Heater
Best Space Heater: If your outdoor crowd stays on their feet rather than huddling around the fire pit, crack out this 46,000 BTU freestanding propane heater. It’s got wheels for easy movement and a piezo ignition system that will fire up with no fuss.
Lifetime Adirondack Chairs
Best Outdoor Seating Option: Circle a few of these around your outdoor television (or use the space as a retreat from the crowd inside). These classic Adirondack chairs are constructed from weather-resistant polystyrene, and thus are splinter- and warp-proof, and UV protected to retain color for years.
Moe Home Collection Neo Sideboard
Best Multi-Use Cabinet: This stylish piece can serve as a television support, storage space and display area — or just a gorgeous place to set out appetizers. Its three drawers and two cabinets are simulated walnut with polished steel drawer pulls.
Football Scouting Methods
Best Intelligent-Observer Handbook: This classic 1962 text — penned by 33-year US Naval Academy coach Steve Belichick, father of Patriots coach Bill — goes about as far down into the weeds of football science as one can, focusing on the strategies for scouting opposing teams. Still hugely relevant today, the book provides exceptional insights into how the best teams are formed, what to look for when analyzing offenses and defenses, and how to create a useful post-game analysis. It’s the coach’s brain, laid bare.
Take Your Eye Off the Ball
Best Savvy Fan Handbook: Even if you’ve been watching football your entire life, the game’s nuances may leave you confused. This essential guide shines a light on the coaches’ strategies and the implications of every play, fumble and formation, and reasons why players’ skills seem to rise and fall with every passing week. It gives you the right intel not just to hold your own in conversation with savvy fans, but to appreciate the game much more in the first place.