Not everyone wants to go to the game in person, and sometimes you just want to be home to watch the game in peace without the stresses of L.A. traffic and parking at SoFi Stadium. But part of the fun of watching sports is the atmosphere of watching with others.
When you can’t make it to the game, one of the best ways to catch the action is doing some “homegating” and hosting or attending a watch party with friends.
I love hosting football watch parties, and attended quite a few as well, so I wanted to share three great calls that make for the best homegating experience to soak up all the action from the comfort of your own couch, recliner, yard ... or even pool float, we are in sunny Southern California after all!
Great call No. 1: Multiple viewing areas
When you have a bunch of people over to watch games, I’ve found that one of the most important things for creating the best experience is multiple screens set up, usually in multiple areas.
First off, most people don’t have room for a dozen guests to sit in their living room (especially if you live in L.A.). Secondly, not everyone coming over will necessarily be rooting for your team or even wanting to watch the specific game you want to. So the way to handle this is to try and create an environment like your local sports bar and have multiple screens set up with multiple areas to watch the games. The main picture for this article was from my small apartment a few years ago, but it’s a good example of what you should be going for. Setting up some screens that can be tuned in to different games so that people can watch the games they care about most. It also helps with having comfortable space and seating options for all your guests. With smart TVs and streaming, this gets even more easy to accomplish since you don’t always have to rely on a cable box per screen.
I know not everyone has multiple screens, but you can also work with other people attending to try and make multiple screens happen, like asking them to bring a laptop or iPad. Trust me, if you can make this work, it is a game changer.
Great call No. 2: Buffet table
Food is an important part of the homegating experience, just like it is when you actually tailgate (and I wrote another article recently that expands on this in detail), but something that often gets overlooked or done poorly, is placement of the food.
A lot of people start throwing all the food an options on the coffee table. This is a mistake. When you’re hosting a watch party like that, you’re going to have enough guests that when someone comes over to get something else, they’re probably going to block someone’s view or disrupt the watching experience for others.
Plus, if you followed Great call No. 1, you’re going to have people maybe in other rooms, or outside that would then have to come all the way into the living room to grab food, usually in groups as they rush to do it during a commercial break in their game.
You’re going to want to set all food up on a big table, in a more centrally located area between your viewing areas. It should be easy to access and shouldn’t be in between any of the seating areas and screens. This will help people grab food faster, and create less disruption.
A few smaller snacks like chips and a dip can be on the tables, but your pizza, grilled items, etc should all be on a buffet table.
Great call No. 3: Don’t forget the non-alcoholic drink options
Not everyone who comes over to enjoy the game is going to want to drink adult beverages. Plus, you don’t want all of your friends crashing at your house, and you definitely want them to be safe and use a designated driver if they do drink. So you want to have a few options for non-alcoholic drinks. It’s always a bummer when you aren’t drinking beer or seltzers and you open the cooler at a party and there are no options for you. Sure, everyone should hydrate with some water, but it shouldn’t be your only choice. Make sure you have plenty of options, including some soda like Coca-Cola or even energy drink options, especially if you’re doing the full Sunday slate of games including the night game and need some caffeine. And don’t forget the “diet” soda options too, if you’re a real team player.