There’s no doubt that weekends in the fall are special. Donning one’s favorite team’s colors and cheering them to victory along with tens of thousands of friends are facets to an epic football experience.
However, between limited seats in a venue, geographical constraints and/or the ever-evolving at-home watching experience, taking in the game within the comfort of one’s own digs is another great avenue for the vast majority of fans. This watching experience isn’t just carving out the hours to sit and make instant replay determinations.
Hosting friends and family, setting up entertainment outside of the game and, of course, ensuring that everyone has ample food and refreshments are all staples of “homegating.” If you’re a guest, it’s okay be picky; if you’re a host, make sure you’re the talk of your neighborhood.
Here are some great calls for your at-home watching experience:
The guest list
Before you dive on in, it’s important to go through who is coming over to cheer your team (the Bengals...duh) on to victory. Having a rundown of who will be coming by will give you a great idea of not only what to buy, but how much.
This will also give you an idea on entertainment. Are there hardcore fans attending, casual ones, or a mix of both? Having that information will give you an idea as to how many extracurriculars you’ll need.
While these seem obvious, it’s crucial to have a grasp on this, as misreading the guest list could put a stop to hosting future games.
The side entertainment
Of course, the main event of the big game(s) is the centerpiece of any homegate or overall hosting endeavor. If you’re rocking a 25-inch Sanyo standard definition TV assembled circa 1994, you probably want to hit up Costco for a visual upgrade and/or hit up a relative to move the venue.
Once you’ve got the proper audio/visual setup, ensuring that your guests are fully entertained is a must. Ping pong, air hockey and/or foosball tables are able to be had for pretty affordable prices, depending on the retailer, as well as the size and type of playing surface. Cornhole boards and bags are always a great game for the masses and shouldn’t cost much.
On a budget and want alternatives? There are plenty. Game pools wherein folks guess the scores after quarters and/or halves, or picking squares can be a fun way to keep the game interesting to casual fans.
Even card games (preferably ones that require minimal attention) are uber-affordable ways to entertain those with ADD and/or ones there primarily for the hangout and not so much the game. Some “man caves” that host folks have video games (be it arcade-style or console), but those can detract attention from those who are the most ardent of fans.
Tread lightly, but be creative.
Food and drink
Aside from the result of the big game, this facet can make or break any homegating experience. Even the most attentive host and ones that have all of the bells and whistles we mentioned above can ruin a hosting experience with poor food and refreshments.
Here are some helpful suggestions and rules of thumb to help you get you started:
- Barbecuing is awesome for guests, but it could peel you away from watching your team. Tread lightly and/or have the ability to watch the game near the grill. Items to cook that require minimal attention (sausages, hot dogs) should be considered.
- Anything buffalo sauced is clutch. Wings, buffalo chicken dip and buffalo cauliflower as a vegan option is solid. Local barbecue restaurants often have their own awesome, homemade sauces, but going with Frank’s RedHot is always a decent standard (I’m sure aficionados will roast me on that).
- Soft drinks, either to be used as standalone or mixers for adult beverages are MUSTS. Having soda waters on hand is always a crowd-pleaser, as are popular zero-sugar Coca-Cola products like Coke Zero and Diet Coke.
- Read the room (in this case the early guest list) in terms of other drinks. Everyone enjoy responsibly.
- There are options for “finger foods” that are always solid options for the masses. Mini bean-and-cheese burritos are a personal favorite, while other munchies like popcorn, chips (Cape Cod or Kettle Chips are go-to’s) are great munchies that won’t take away from main courses. However, they can also hold over folks who just want to snack bit-by-bit all day.
- Chili—for Bengals’ faithful, Cincinnati-style from favorite local vendors, or southwest-style are both acceptable.
- Deserts are tricky. Perhaps use this as the “entry fee” for attendees to your homegate to ensure that the people are happy.
What are some of your homegating traditions? Do you have some favorite recipes and/or something specific to watching the Cincinnati Bengals? Share them with us and other Bengals fans!