Sweet and Savory Popcorn Bar + DIY football tablescape projects
This sweet and savory popcorn bar and easy DIY football tablescape projects post has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #AllStarSnackBar #CollectiveBias
We are big on football entertaining here and the big game is just around the corner! Have you been planning your menu and stocking up on team décor? Every year, we play host and hostess to our friends all season long and I love it. Our team was eliminated many moons ago but that’s the fun part about football — the fun doesn’t stop with your team’s chances. Let’s dive into these fun football tablescape ideas and popcorn recipes!
One of my favorite snacks to make for football parties is popcorn balls. They are easy to make and fun to get creative with. When you think popcorn balls, you probably just think sweet desserts, but that isn’t the case! Popcorn balls can be anything you want them to be from very sweet to very savory or spicy. Because everyone loves to start with dessert, let’s do that with these Caramel Apple Popcorn Balls.
These popcorn balls might be the best thing I’ve ever tasted coming out of my kitchen, at least in the world of sweets. They are chewy, crunchy and packed with caramel flavor. The idea behind them is a play on a caramel apple, and while I did put bits and pieces of dried apples in them, they are mostly Orville Redenbacher® popcorn. The caramel flavor comes from two places – caramel sauce (duh) and a secret weapon – caramel extract.
These are quite simple to make. Simply melt together butter, caramel and marshmallows – then mix in the popcorn and dried apples. Once it cools for a few minutes, press the popcorn mixture into a ball, roll in toffee bits and then pop them into the fridge. Next comes the candy coating. Don’t worry, I’m not a master candy maker and I can easily pull this off. You’ll just bring a sugar mixture to 300 degrees (hard crack) and then dip the balls in it. And, you guessed it, the secret ingredient in that sugar mixture is the caramel extract.
For a savory snack, we love a Nacho Popcorn Ball, which is simply a cheesy popcorn ball with the addition of fresh cilantro and nacho seasonings. The binder to bring the balls together is cream cheese (I use a Greek yogurt/cream cheese variety that’s a bit healthier) and you could add anything extra you like – diced jalapeno would be really great!
You can put sticks in these popcorn balls as well, if you’d like, but I thought putting two in a football cup was the better route for these flavor bombs. Popcorn balls are pretty dense – you’d be surprised how filling they are if you haven’t tried them before. Two nacho popcorn balls and you’re probably good to go.
Don’t forget the football picks!
In the DIY world, chalkboard paint is a best friend. These are so many things you can do with it, like this DIY Chalkboard Football Stand. All you need for this easy serving stand is:
- a cake stand
- chalkboard spray paint
- chalk markers
Simply spray a cake stand (great way to bring new life to an old stand) with chalkboard paint and allow to dry. With the chalk marker you can either do a fun football play doodle, or you can use it to take bets with friends or even keep score. After the game, simply wash off the chalk and use it for something else!
Next up on the easy DIY football tablescape ideas, a football lace jar for beverages. You can do this several ways, with white washi or electrical tape, with a stencil and spray paint or like I’ve done here – with puffy paint! Moms always have puffy paint lying around, so when I found these handled jars at the store last week, I knew just what I’d do for my upcoming football parties.
This simple DIY Football Laces Jar is very forgiving. The puffy paint peels right off when dry so if you mess one up, no worries. For this easy DIY, you will need:
- handled jars with one flat side
- white puffy paint
Wash and dry your jars thoroughly. With the white puffy paint, draw laces on a flat side of your jars. Allow to dry for an hour at least before standing up and using.
Fill with a brown drink for the best “football” look. Soda is perfect but if you don’t drink soda like me, these are a great place for iced tea! The iced tea actually gives the best caramel color, closest to a football. You could also do a green liquid and instead of painting on football laces, draw on yard lines/hash marks.
I set those adorable jars down right next to my bucket of DIY penalty flags. These are hands down my favorite football DIY I’ve ever done, and I’ve done quite a few over the years! If you’re looking to entertain kids during your football parties, these penalty flags are perfect. And, if you’re looking to entertain the grown up kids, they love them as well! My husband really enjoys throwing a penalty flag out when he calls it, even when nobody is around (true story).
To create 8 of these DIY Penalty Flags, you only need three things:
- 8 small rubber balls (I used NERF gun balls as they are always ALL OVER my house)
- 1 yard of slightly stretchy yellow fabric
- 8 small rubber bands (also always all over my house)
Cut the yellow fabric into 8 equal squares. In the center of each square, place a ball. Wrap the ball by bringing all of the corners together and secure the ball with a rubber band. Use two rubber bands if you think you need it. Good to go!
This whole game day set up wouldn’t be possible without Orville Redenbacher Movie Theater Butter, which I found at Walmart in the chips and nuts aisle. They are sold in a big value size box, which is helpful when creating a popcorn bar for your next game day party.
When you’re planning a big set up with meals, snacks, desserts and beverages, it is best not to overcomplicate things. Big flavors does not have to mean big grocery lists and a whole day spent in the kitchen. Look for shortcuts where you can find them. Orville Redenbacher microwavable popcorn bags make these popcorn ball recipes super easy to make and add a ton of flavor!
Popcorn is one of those sharable snacks that is perfect for entertaining during games. I’d be hard pressed to thing of another food with such nostalgia attached to it and Orville Redenbacher has always been a favorite. As their motto goes, Orville Redenbacher: To be the ‘best quality’ for the occasions that are most cherished. Happy game day watching y’all!
Head to Walmart to stock up on everything you need for the big game, including Orville Redenbacher popcorn, which is found in the aisle with popcorn, nuts and alcoholic beverages. For more inspiration for your big game party here including delicious football-themed recipes!
Nacho Popcorn Balls
- 2 bags Orville Redenbacher Popcorn
- 1 cup shredded cheese
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1 Tbl Tajin seasoning (or another chili pepper mix)
- 4 oz cream cheese, softened
- Prepare Orville Redenbacher Popcorn bags and dump into a large bowl, taking extra care to not include any unpopped kernels. While still hot, mix in shredded cheese, cilantro and seasoning.
- Pour softened cream cheese over the popcorn and mix. Mixing with clean hands is the easiest way here. Press into 8 balls and allow to cool. If desired, roll the balls while still sticky in additional cheese, cilantro and seasoning.
Caramel Candy Apple Popcorn Balls
- 2 bags Orville Redenbacher Popcorn
- 4 Tbl butter
- 1 cup mini marshmallows
- one 14oz can caramel sauce
- 1 cup dried apples, diced
- 1/2 cup toffee bits
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 tsp caramel extract
- green (or red) food coloring
- Over medium heat, melt butter, marshmallows and caramel. Turn off the heat; add popcorn and dried apples, mixing to combine. Allow the mixture to cool for a few minutes and firm up a bit. Grease your hands and then form into 8 – 10 balls, pressing to compact. Roll in toffee bits. Set aside on a parchment-lined baking sheet in the fridge.
- Bring sugar, corn syrup and water to a rapid boil with a candy thermometer to monitor. Add in extract and food coloring and bring the sugar to 300 degrees (hard crack) stirring to control. Carefully dip each popcorn ball into the hot candy and then set back onto the parchment paper. Allow to fully cool. Enjoy!