January 19, 2021 5 min read

The Super Bowl is still a few weeks out, and though we don't yet know the teams, that could not matter less as we all look for any reason to celebrate or make a day special. This year's game will most definitely be different, but that's no reason to forgo a party. But like, a super tiny, scaled down one with just your social pod. Or maybe even jump on the at-home tailgate trend for a larger, social distanced option? If you're a normal person and haven't been planning this out for weeks already, no worries. We've compiled a few easy ideas to throw together a killer game day hang in no time.

An American football sits laces up, centered on a table surrounded by bar snacks and beer


Now, the first rule for any pandemic party is don't fill your house up with a buncha people. So what we're gonna do is invite people in our social bubble, and no one else. Cool? Cool. 

(See? Now this is too many people standing too close together breathing on all this food. What we're NOT gonna do.) 


Or if you're wanting to do something a little bigger for the neighborhood, why not try a driveway tailgate? With this 14ft inflatable screen, projector, and speaker rental from Backyard Movie Party you can bring big game day fun home while staying distanced. It's like a Drive-in at your house! Remember in 90s sitcoms how the entire thing that would qualify a person to host "The Big Game" was whether or not they had a giant tv? Well, you'd definitely be the most obvious candidate with this set up. The best part is the rental is good for the whole weekend, so you can use it to re-watch The Mandalorian on Friday night, then have a gaming tournament Saturday night. Win-win-win. 

14 foot inflatable outdoor movie screen in backyard with a popcorn machine and party table set up to it's right

The second rule of pandemic parties is to let the expectations of "normal" Super Bowl gatherings fly right out the window. Even the most die hard fans will get over it, I promise. I don't know about y'all, but in Texas football is basically a religion, which makes the Super Bowl a high holiday. So as you can imagine people go all out with decor, drinks, and catering. In the world before it was not uncommon to arrive at someone's home on that particular Sunday to find a mountain of wings, 1,000 feet of sub sandwich, and a cheese fountain ( the height of luxury ). Well not this year, and that's okay. 

While I don't think you'll need a mountain of wings for your eight person party, I do think you can still make the food special, and maybe start a new tradition along the way. Since the weather will be chilly, why not serve chili? It's easy to make for a crowd, customizable with toppings, and is just great football watching food. Just make sure everyone cleaned their hands before sharing ladles.

A large blue cast iron pot view from above with the lid half off to show chili inside. Around the pot in a semi circle is an assortment of toppings in small bowls like cheese and onions

Or even better, have a Super Chili Bowl Cook-off! This is inspired by an annual event here in Dallas that I'm really going to miss this year that was held in one of our best dive bar/music venues each Super Bowl Sunday. Since I can't have the real thing, we can bring it home with some friendly competition. The ideal set up for this is one long table and a power strip for crock pots. If participants feel they have a particular topping or condiment required for enjoying their chili, have them bring it. Then set up a tray/station for add-ons like Fritos, corn bread, sour cream, hot sauces, and cheese... so much cheese. If you actually plan to have a judging, then you'll need to number each chili in line (so it stays anonymous... although, if you're as close as my fiends and I, you probably know whose crockpot is whose 😂  Southern problems, I guess).


three crock pots on a long table at a chili cook off


A great food option if you are going the at-home tailgate route and wanting to host your neighbors in a safe, social distanced way is a table of single serve grab and go snacks. This wrapped sandwich hack from Crate & Barrel's blog The A Frame is a great jumping off point, and can easily be adapted for your driveway Super Bowl bash. It was a heck of a year for creatively presenting packaged, self-serve foods like charcuterie cones, jarred cocktails, and chip walls so there's no shortage of ways to safely serve snacks ( but if you need help finding ideas check out our Pinterest).


a basket on a grey countertop full of sub sandwiches wrapped in brown paper, sitting behind a cutting board  with one long, uncut wrapped sandwich and knife on it

If the street/driveway won't work, and you'd rather move the tailgate to your backyard check out our Social Distance Seating Ideas blog for some creative and fun ways to be apart together. 


Now we need some drinks. My suggestion here is what it has been since March: Don't let it stress you out! Grab a kiddie pool or bucket, fill with canned drinks, add some ice. if ya wanna get fancy, or if it's gonna be really cold where you are- maybe consider an outdoor cocoa bar. But if it's going to be used by more than your social pod, I'd recommend a hot water dispenser and disposable cups with stirrers instead. Set out a tray of tea bags/cocoa pouches, and bam! Single serve hot drink station.


outdoor cocoa bar with rustic theme

(This cocoa bar is from Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom, and you can check out her full post here)

Something that's mentioned in pretty much all of our outdoor party blogs, but can always stand repeating- add a hand cleaning station. This can be as simple as a bin with some sanitizer and wipes, or as elaborate as a camping sink made from drink dispensers filled with water. (The example below is from Every Day Party and you can see more ideas from them here.)

drink dispenser filled with water sits over a bucket to form an outdoor diy sink


I know none of us thought almost a year later we'd still be unable to gather at our previous capacity, and (again, being in Texas) a small Super Bowl party was not something I thought I'd ever be planning out (and I'll miss cheese fountains as much as I miss the five second rule) but this can still be a fun and exciting day. If there's one thing this year has taught me, it's that I like small parties. I like only inviting and being near the people I'm closest with, and not having to guilt-invite a weird uncle or something to avoid the awkwardness of not inviting them. I hope that you do, too. I hope you're finding new joys in these gatherings, and learning that smaller circles allow for a deeper friendships. And most of all, I hope you get to eat so much cheese on February 7, 2021 that it ruins the rest of your week 😂 Really though, if you do decide to have a little party, I hope these tips serve you well, and that you and your lil pod party safe (and then maybe next year we can go back to sub sandwiches as big as anacondas). 


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