Football fans share a universal language that cuts across many cultures and personality types. A serious football fan is never alone. We are legion, and football is often the only thing we have in common.Hunter S. Thompson
Well, ladies and gentlemen, all I can say is: “Woot for the NFL Draft!!!” For all of us sports enthusiasts, the draft this week is one silver lining in a cloud currently devoid of sports.
Just because we have social distancing mandates doesn’t mean we have to give up on all fun and games. We just have to be more creative about our parties and interactions. More than ever, our psyches are clamoring for smiles, jokes, laughter and high fives — even if it has to be on a computer screen.
Thursday, April 23 is the start of the NFL draft. It is a perfect opportunity to plan a fun virtual party with your football friends and family. Even members of your family who aren’t football fans will want to get in on this party! I mean, who doesn’t like to have a good time, especially now?!
Here are some ideas for making your virtual NFL party a touchdown!
Invite: Send an electronic invitation with the link to your preferred platform and other key information.
Attire: Invite everyone to wear their favorite team colors or team hat/jersey.
Food & Beverage: Serve fun food and cocktails or mocktails. Ask your guests to share their favorite football themed dishes via a recipe emailed to the group following the draft.
Do a Mock Draft.
Paperless Post offers many unique and fun designs for electronic invitations (even before COVID-19). Recently, they’ve updated their options to include virtual parties with sports and other themes.
Personalize it. Invite your friends to wear their favorite team colors or a jersey. Provide the virtual link (Zoom, Google Hangouts, etc.) Entice them to send their favorite libation or football food recipe.
In your invitation, get into the draft spirit by asking your friends and family to wear their favorite team colors and/or show their team pride with an official NFL shirt, jersey, or hat.
Create a fun menu to bring in the football theme. I chose a kick-ass chili recipe (see below). In your invitation, share your menu and ask them to share their favorite football themed recipe. During the draft, you all can virtually taste the food & drink, and share the recipes via email after the event. (Scroll to the bottom for some ideas and recipes.)
Have a modified mock draft, and ask your guests to choose where the top 10 football prospects will be drafted. The person(s) who picks the most correct draft picks, wins a small prize. It doesn’t matter if you know football or not; simply make a pick and see if you make it to the end zone.
Celebrate football and your favorite team! Share some great food and drink. Have a great night with friends and family — all while honoring social distancing. Plus, no one has to drive home after the party! Cheers!
TAILGATER CHILI RECIPE
Make the night before to allow the flavors to blend. Can be made in a traditional large Dutch Oven on the stove or in a slow cooker. Don’t let the number of ingredients scare you from making this recipe. It all comes together so easily and takes minimal time once the ingredients are in the pot.
Beverage Pairing Suggestions
Fritos, Tortilla Chips
Shredded Cheddar or Jack Cheese
Diced Red Onion or Chopped Scallions
2 pounds ground beef chuck
1 pound Italian sausage (use hot if you like a spicier version)
3 15 ounce cans chili beans, drained
1 15 ounce can chili beans in spicy sauce
2 28 ounce cans diced tomatoes with juice
1 6 ounce can tomato paste
1 large white onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 green chili peppers, seeded and chopped
4 slices cooked bacon, coarsely chopped
4 cubes beef bouillon
½ cup beer
¼ cup chili powder
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons Tabasco
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon white sugar
- In a large pot on the stove, heat the ground chuck and sausage, breaking it up until cooked evenly. Drain off excess grease.
- Pour in the chili beans, spicy chili beans, diced tomatoes, tomato paste.
- Add in celery, onion, green and red bell peppers, chili peppers, bacon, bouillon and beer.
- Season with chili powder, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, oregano, cumin, hot pepper sauce, basil, salt, pepper, cayenne, paprika and sugar. Stir to blend, then cover and simmer over low heat for several hours. Stir occasionally.
- Taste after a couple of hours, and adjust seasoning as needed. The longer it cooks, the better it will taste.
- Ladle into bowls and top with cheese and other toppings, as you like. Serve with Fritos or tortilla chips.