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Indianapolis Colts fans’ guide to homegating: These are great calls for your next watch party

Easy to prep dishes, NFL RedZone channel, plenty of seating and lots of ice are keys to a great homegate.

Syndication: The Indianapolis Star Jenna Watson/IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK

Some of my favorite memories have been made at professional and collegiate stadiums. The waves of sounds and the emotional swings are just different when you attend a game in person. But there are also challenges and expenses like parking, stadium food or drinks, traffic, and navigating crowds. It can take up an entire day, especially if you’re tailgating and throw in drive time.

Sometimes, it’s nice to skip all of that and tune in from home. At least you can skip the bathroom lines …. usually.

While I’ve rarely had the same experience watching games from my home or visiting with friends and family, I have come up with a list of great calls that can make game day fun — from the most to least-engaged fan.

The short-term cost of the NFL RedZone channel on NFL Network is worth it. If you have the technology at home, you can setup a separate TV, tablet, or other device to RedZone, mute it, and your biggest fans and fantasy football managers will be grateful. If that’s not an option, flipping over to RedZone is a great bridge for commercials and half time.

Coordinate to have a few easy to prep dishes or snack foods around, as well as a variety of drinks. My favorites are Buffalo chicken dip, cheese dip, pizza, and chicken wings. Nothing stands out about game day at home more than day-long grazing. I’m not sure I’ve had a legit meal on a game day at home in years — but I sure have snacked a lot.

Another key is ice. Most refrigerators don’t have an ice maker with the capacity to keep up on game day. Consider grabbing a bag of ice — and sometimes it’s nice to also throw drinks in a cooler, even if it’s just sitting in the house. Guests will appreciate the ability to grab a drink and go or avoiding the bottleneck at the fridge during a commercial break. On that note, be sure to supply a variety of different drinks: beer is a must, but also consider if anyone wants mixed drinks, wine, and of course, soda and non-alcoholic options. Coca-Cola is also a good bet, as it’ll keep you caffeinated throughout the game as well as quenching your first.

Seating and space can make a huge difference. The kitchen or dining room can be a great gathering space for anyone who isn’t interested in actively watching every snap of the game. Bringing in a few extra chairs, even if they don’t match the decor or seem out of place allows people to come and go.

If possible (and the weather is hospitable), have a space outside setup as well. Depending on the size of your party, guests might get hot or just need a moment get away from the noise and activity. Others might like to smoke a cigar on game days. A few chairs and place to set down a drink should be enough to serve the purpose.

There are so many other fun ideas for football Sundays. Feel free to share some of your favorite ideas, food and drink recipes, and any themes you’ve enjoyed in the comments below.

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