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Homegating: Stadium parking lot vibes, all in your own living room... or backyard.

Grilling Vegetables Photo by Amy Brothers/ Then Denver Post

I would be a Seattle Seahawks season ticket holder if I could. I would happily sit in the nosebleeds at every single game if I had a reasonable way of making that happen, because nothing matches the feeling of cheering on my favorite team inside the booming walls at Lumen Field.

But what about the fun and excitement leading up to the game? The NFL has evolved a vibrant and colorful culture around “tailgating” that has transcended and persevered through many eras of the sport. I’m sure those of us who have had the pleasure of partaking can agree that there is a bit of extra magic in the air when standing outside in the cold-but-warm presence of like-minded fans in the hours and minutes leading up to a home game.

Of course, this experience is generally restricted to attendees of the game; so what if you are in the position where most of us find ourselves on Sunday — not stomping around outside in a parking lot, but rather sitting inside on a couch, chair, floor, or otherwise flat surface? Then rejoice, because you always have home field advantage when you’re “homegating.”

What is homegating? Put simply, it is the art of creating the perfect game day atmosphere in the comfort of your own living room, backyard, or wherever! Celebrating at home is a personal and individual choice; there is no “right way” to do it.

Do you feel like inviting the entire neighborhood over to watch the game in your backyard? Why not. Would you rather sit alone in your living room clutching your favorite Seahawks snuggie with the volume maxed out for maximum effect? Hey, it’s your call. Either way, you’re likely going to need some snacks on hand, if for no other reason than for something to compulsively stress-eat while you anxiously watch your team settle in for a game-winning field goal in the fourth quarter.

The way I see it, you have two choices when you’re prepping for game day:

  • Go full-on stadium atmosphere, replete with frozen bags of greasy foods, canned beverages galore, and a cadre of cheap party supplies that wouldn’t look out of place at your sixth-grade, Seahawks-themed bowling alley birthday party.
  • Or — and this is my suggestion — you eschew the traditional and forge your own path, because why bind yourself to the self-imposed restrictions of a muddy stadium parking lot when instead you can take full advantage of the fact that you are doing it from the comfort of your own home? And if you really want to go outside and stand in the 45-degree wind and rain, you are in luck — that is what your grill is for!

Let’s assume you are going the latter route; don’t worry, just because you aren’t trying to simulate Lumen Field doesn’t mean you can’t have a few greasy foods. But let’s also assume that you don’t feel like draining your bank account just to load up on a bunch of frozen foods and pre-cooked hot dogs. So here is my suggestion: get adventurous, but start with some basics to keep everybody happy.

Chips, dips, or an extra-fancy charcuterie spread

Tortilla nachos corn chips with avocado guacamole sauce served in wood plate with half of avocado and chilli peppers over old wooden background. Flat lay. space Photo by: Natasha Breen/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Chips and guac are always a great call; they are a simple fan favorite that most can enjoy, and you can get as expansive with your choice of sides as you want! If you feel like adding some more layers, you can try this tasty recipe for a plant-based seven-layer dip.

But what if you are feeling extra fancy? Say your team is on the cusp of clinching a playoff berth and you want to keep it classy — you can ditch the chips + dip combo and instead replace them with a charcuterie spread.

Homemade cheese board, Bryantown, MD Photo by: Edwin Remsberg/VW PICS/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Kabobs or Tacos: you make the call

Syndication: The Tennessean Jeremy Harmon / The Tennessean / USA TODAY NETWORK

Maybe the best part about homegating is that it doesn’t have to end when the game starts. Once you (and your guests) have settled in to the second quarter, you can reach deep into your playbook and throw these incredible vegetable kabobs on the grill for halftime. You can easily modify this recipe to include just about anything that you (or your guests) would enjoy.

Now, let’s say that you are like the rest of us and you don’t have hours of free time leading up to every game. Don’t worry — there are still fast and affordable options to create a terrific game day spread.

My tried and true method when I need to feed a crowd in the clutch? Get in touch with your favorite local taqueria and order a few to-go trays of tacos. Tacos are always a great call, and one of the cheapest ways to feed a crew of ravenous watchers.

Syndication: Evansville Aimee Blume / Courier & Press via Imagn Content Services, LLC

So there you have it, football fans. What is your favorite method for homegating? What are some great calls you have made from the comfort of your own living room?

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