During the Big Game, football fans across the country will gather around the TV to watch. But what if you’re more of a fan of Fido than football?
Those who enjoy puppy kisses more than blitzes can tune into Puppy Bowl XVI, which airs Feb. 2, 2020, at 3 p.m. EST/12 p.m. PST on Animal Planet. During the adorable event, two teams of adoptable puppies—Team Fluff and Team Ruff—will compete on a miniature football field for a chance to win the “Lombarky” trophy—and our hearts!
You can score some major points with the other dog lovers in your life by inviting them over to watch the game while hosting a Puppy Bowl party. Let Pet Central show you how to throw the best Puppy Bowl party on the block for all your friends and family—and their puppers, too!
To start, you’ll need to send out invites. You can send printed or digital invitations.
If you go the printed route, you can buy a pack of printed invites at the store and handwrite the party details at home. Easy peasy. Or you can customize design templates on a printing or a crafting website, and have them printed.
Another option is to forgo the printing and simply send your customized design template as a digital file via email or share it on Facebook. Even an e-vite or Facebook invite could work.
“Since most things have turned digital, we hardly ever have customers ask for standard printed invitations anymore,” says Hayley Mehalco, founder of Puppy Parties NYC, which plans and organizes parties for dogs and their people in New York. “We recommend digital invites. They are fun to design, can easily be posted on social media and, with the click of a button, your guests can RSVP.”
Whatever you choose, give your guests plenty of advance notice. Mehalco recommends sending out invitations three weeks to one month prior to the party.
On the invitation, include all pertinent party information: day, time (it’s best to start the party a little before the game begins), place and how and when to RSVP. Let guests know that friendly dogs are welcome and encouraged to attend.
The invites are also an opportunity to inform guests of any special requests or circumstances. For example, maybe you want guests to BYOB or to dress their dogs up in team jerseys or accessories (provided the dog is comfortable wearing clothes).
The Party Décor
As with any party, you’ll want to decorate with a specific theme in mind, and this theme is all about dogs and football—a winning combination! Look for store-bought, football-themed decorations, such as banners and balloons, or anything with a dog on it. Perhaps go with a yellow and green color scheme to match the Team Fluff and Team Ruff colors.
If you have a knack for crafting, you can make your own decorations. If you have Chewy boxes laying around, cut out football shapes, paint them and hang them from a string. You also can create a pennant banner by following the simple steps below!
• Colored paper
• Hole punch
• Ribbon or string
1. Cut out a dozen or so triangles from the colored paper.
2. Punch holes into the two top corners of the triangles.
3. Run a string or ribbon through the holes.
Mehalco recommends making a miniature football field out of an artificial grass rug, which you can find at a home improvement or home decor store.
“The field can even be used as a backdrop for a photo booth,” she says.
You can find photo backdrops at a party or craft store. Of course, you’ll want to keep pet safety in mind when decorating.
“Make sure everything is fastened and hung properly to ensure there are no accidents,” Mehalco says. “When hanging items, use hooks instead of tacks.”
If you opt for a homemade football field, use pet-safe paint to draw the field lines.
What’s a party without something yummy to snack on? Serve up delicious treats for your two-legged and four-legged guests.
For humans, offer up traditional game day foods, like buffalo wings, subs, chili, chips and pretzels. Mehalco says to avoid any food that’s considered toxic for dogs, such as chocolate. If you must include chocolate sweets, keep them out of reach from roving paws. Mehalco also advises against doing a pot luck, because well-meaning guests might bring something that is unsafe for dogs.
“Personally, I would pass [on pot lucks] as some dogs have allergies and there are many human foods that are toxic to dogs,” she says. “[It’s] best to know exactly what will be at the party and what ingredients are in the items.”
Mehalco recommends placing the human food and dog food away from each other so people partygoers don’t accidentally eat something meant for their canine counterparts and vice versa.
“Literally have a dog table and a human table,” she says.
Signage also helps identify what food items are for which guest. Adding “For Humans” and “For Dogs” place cards to their respective tables will do the trick.
You can go a step further and create place cards describing each item so guests can make sure they don’t feed their dog something they can’t have. For example, if one dogs has an allergy to beef.
“We always make place cards or table signs that list what the food item is along with the ingredients,” Mehalco says.
For your furry guests, a variety of store-bought dog treats are sure to get tails wagging. Whipping up some football-themed dog treats will add a nice touch as well.
Try these simple DIY dog treats from Chewy Eats.
Football Dog Treat
This DIY dog treat is shaped to look like a football and is made with peanut butter, chicken broth and Stella & Chewy’s Chicken Dinner Patties.
Football Jersey Dog treat
This DIY dog treat is shaped to look like a team jersey and is made with peanut butter, flour, eggs and Greek yogurt.
And don’t forget plenty of water to keep partying puppers hydrated.
Keep guests entertained with a variety of fun party activities.
Tune Into the Puppy Bowl
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Puppy Bowl party if you didn’t watch the Puppy Bowl on TV. The game starts at 3 p.m. EST/12 p.m. PST on Animal Planet. Set up some dog beds around the room so pups can get comfy during the game.
Have the Dogs Play Football
In addition to watching the Puppy Bowl, your canine guests can play a game of football at your house. Here’s what you need and how to play:
Field: indoor or outdoor (weather-permitting). If outdoor, simply use cones or dog agility poles, like the ones found in Outward Hound’s Zip & Zoom indoor agility kit, to mark the end zones. If indoors, you can use cones or agility poles for the end zones, and incorporate the miniature football field decoration you made out of the artificial turf rug. Use pet gates or dog pens, like the Frisco dog exercise pen with step-through door, to create a separate space for the dogs to play, if needed.
Jerseys: As the host, you can provide two different colored dog jerseys, T-shirts or bandanas. Or you can ask guests to come prepared with the specific color and product you tell them to get. Another option is to ask guests to come with dog shirts they decorated themselves.
MVP Prizes: Award each team’s canine MVP with a special toy or an inexpensive trophy, which can be purchased at a party store.
Refs: Make sure all playtime is supervised and that the dogs display good sportsmanship.
How to Play: Put 15 minutes on the clock. Any time a player carries a toy into the correct end zone, that team gets a point. Give the dogs a break (perhaps a halftime treat). Repeat for another 15 minutes. Whichever team has the most points at the end of the two halves, wins! (Adjust the time depending on the temperament, energy level and interest of the dogs.)
Capture all the fun with a “photo booth,” which can be as simple as a nicely decorated wall or a football-themed backdrop in which to take photos in front of.
Jersey Decorating Station
Bring out the creativity and team pride in your guests by having them decorate their dog’s jersey, shirt or bandana that the pooches will then wear during the game. Frisco basic dog t-shirts are perfect for decorating and easy on the wallet. Decorating supplies can include stick-on numbers, non-toxic fabric markers, bows and a hot glue gun. Offer a prize for the best decorated jersey!
The Party Favors
Send guests home with something special. Use party favor bags or boxes from a dollar store or any party store. You might even consider using a dog poop bag, like Frisco’s unscented dog waste bags.
For your four-legged guests, include some treats—either homemade or store-bought (again, paying attention to any pet guest allergies)—and a small toy. You can buy individual dog toys, like All Kind’s squeaking football dog toy. Or buy a bag of tennis balls, like KONG’s SquakAir balls, or an assortment of dog toys, like Otterly Pet’s assorted rope toys, and divvy up the items among the guests. Add whatever other items you think would be fun or useful.
“Party favors are always fun,” Mehalco says. “We often put together themed gift bags for the pups to take home.”
When throwing a Puppy Bowl party, how grand or how conservative you want to play it is up to you. All that really matters is that everyone comes together for some fun and some football—puppy football!