The perfect pigskin party: Secrets from a local event planner

Ideas: The perfect pigskin party: Secrets from a local event planner

The perfect pigskin party: Secrets from a local event planner

Story: Christine Walsh

Photos: provided

When it comes to entertaining, Hillary Overmyer knows her stuff.

Overmyer is the owner of Hillary Rae Events, based in Champaign-Urbana.

“I’ve always had a passion for the event world, knowing that owning my own company was always a long-term goal of mine,” Overmyer said. “Sitting at a desk and having a traditional job wasn’t ever in my calling.”

Overmyer, who recently welcomed a baby boy named Brody to the family, started working in events right after graduating college, working in minor league baseball and learning how to manage large-scale events with the team she worked for in North Carolina. After doing that a few years she went into the wedding and corporate event world and knew she found her calling.

“After owning my company for over two years now, I’ve found a great balance of doing corporate events, weddings and events that I create from start to finish,” she said. “It’s been an amazing few years, and I can’t wait to watch Hillary Rae Events grow.”

Though based locally, Overmyer travels to wherever events take her, with Mexico and Colorado in the plans for 2020. “I’ve got a wonderful family that is so supportive of everything I do,” she said.

With the football season comes the inevitable parties with family and friends to enjoy the big games. We asked Overmyer to share her best advice and guidelines when hosting your next gridiron get-together.


A strategy for food and drinks

When hosting a large group of people at your home, it’s best to try and get an estimated number of guests, according to Overmyer. “That way you have a better idea on what needs to be bought beforehand,” she said. “It’s best to have a range of different foods that appeal to everyone so some aren’t left without anything to eat.”

Overmyer said it’s best not to assume everyone will be drinking alcoholic beverages to watch the game. “Some good items to use for drink service are tubs or large galvanized bins for water, soda and beer,” she said. “Another great way to do drinks is having a drink station with large gallon jars that are both pretty and functional with tea and/or lemonade!”



Depending on your home, you could have seating with tables outside or in the garage for guests to have a separate area while eating the meal or appetizers, Overmyer explained. “If possible, still have the game on, either on the TV or playing just the sound in the areas you know people will still be hanging out,” she said. “Renting these items from local rental shops can help make everything still look uniform and beautiful for your guests.”



Simple is always best, in terms of décor, according to Overmyer. “A fun way to add a special touch is having cards that are themed with the two teams playing with labels on the different food items,” she said, adding that the same holds true for flatware, napkins and plates.


Organizing the food layout

“Stations are wonderful when it comes to hosting a watch party,” Overmyer said. “Having particular areas designated for drinks, main courses and appetizers helps with the flow, especially when a lot of times at an event like this people will be eating during the whole duration of the event.”


Making your guests feel at home

When guests arrive, offer them a beverage right away and to ask if they’d like you to take anything that they brought to the designated area, Overmyer advised. “Keeping things casual and welcoming to your guest is huge,” she said.

The risks of a potluck

Overmyer suggested steering clear of having guests bring their own dishes. “You end up with duplicates, too many sides and not enough verity for your guests,” she said.


Keeping the excitement up during halftime

Setting up a few lawn games outdoors if the weather allows is a nice way to keep guests entertained and wanting to stay until the end of the evening, Overmyer recommended. “Another thing you could do is wait to put dessert items out til halftime, so guests are then making their way to the dessert station and eating that while halftime is going on,” she said.