Start your year off right as you root for the Dallas Stars or the Nashville Predators in the 12th annual Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic! The game will take place this year at the Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas, Texas on January 1, 2020.

Have friends you plan on watching the game with? Start a new tradition by hosting a hockey party that is dedicated to watching the game in its purest form!

But first, a few basics about the game itself.

Hockey Party Ideas for the NHL Winter Classic

Players enter the ice for the NHL Winter Classic.

“Entrance” by Aaron Webb is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Ring in the new year with the ultimate celebration: a hockey party centered around the NHL Winter Classic. This beloved event is quite the spectacle. Done right, it can provide an amazing watch party opportunity that arguably rivals the Super Bowl — or, at least, it will as far as true hockey fans are concerned.

Not convinced that this event is worth watching or celebrating? Keep reading to learn why the NHL Winter Classic is such an anticipated part of the hockey season — and to discover what it takes to throw an amazing hockey party. 

What Is the NHL Winter Classic?

Delighting fans all across the nation, the National Hockey League (NHL) Winter Classic brings a traditional game outside to honor the historic start of the sport of hockey. This unique event typically takes place around New Year’s Day — often in a football or baseball stadium.

This fascinating practice feels like an integral part of NHL fandom these days, but it wasn’t actually pitched until the 2000s. Despite some early roadblocks (such as skeptical executives), the very first Winter Classic was a smashing success, breaking records for crowd attendance.

These days, the NHL Winter Classic showcases the league’s most popular teams while playing up the sport’s most noteworthy rivalries. The excitement is palpable, and the atmosphere is just as high-energy as the playoffs. Goal after goal can be expected, and perhaps a few fights during the big game.

The historic Cotton Bowl hosts the 2020 NHL Winter Classic.“Cotton Bowl” by HooverStreetStudios is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Great Hockey Parties for the NHL Winter Classic

Attending the NHL Winter Classic is a dream come true for hardcore hockey fans, but it’s also a major commitment: being outside often means dealing with the elements, and, depending on the location, these can be downright harsh. As an at-home fan, however, you get the chance to celebrate your love of ice hockey in a warm and inviting environment, surrounded by all your fellow hockey enthusiasts.

Ready to host a party to remember? Not just any setup will do. We’ve highlighted excellent options for throwing an NHL Winter Classic party — and these are versatile enough to do the trick for a hockey-themed birthday party. 

Stylish Hockey Invitations

A great hockey party starts with a great invitation. When in doubt, use a ticket style to impress would-be attendees. Digital formats and printed versions are both acceptable as long as you include all the recent details. Make an even bigger visual impact with an invite adorning a giant foam finger.

No matter the style, you want to feel confident that hockey party invitations spark enthusiasm. DIY invites are always appreciated, but thematic options are also readily available on Etsy or Amazon. 

Sports-Themed Party Decorations

Set the scene with hockey-themed decorations that get guests talking. These can include general hockey centerpieces, food toppers, banners, or table settings, although there’s nothing wrong with showing off the colors for your favorite team. Try these hockey decoration tips to up the ante:

  • Use a white tablecloth with red and blue tape to transform your buffet table into a hockey rink.
  • Place life-sized cardboard cutouts of your favorite hockey players in the corners of the room to create the perfect Instagram-ready photo area!
  • Add life-size hole-in-head cardboard cutouts to the photo area.
  • Use other props or build a penalty box to create a truly memorable photo booth.
  • Hang hockey jerseys (or cardboard cutout versions of these jerseys) as wall decor.
  • Hockey sticks can be propped up over door archways to create a dramatic entrance.

Players are introduced at NHL Winter Classic.

“Pre-game ceremonies” by Ryan Buterbaugh is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Easy Hockey Party Food Ideas

Amazing hockey party food comes in all shapes, sizes, and flavors, from hockey-themed snacks to an NHL Winter Classic logo cake, the following ideas will easily be the talk of your party:

  • Design a traditional concession stand menu that includes hot dogs, popcorn, and nachos with extra cheese.
  • Create hockey puck party favors by making chocolate cream-filled cookies that can be taken home in mini gear goodie bags.
  • Turn pretzels on their head by designing pretzel hockey sticks.
  • Transform an ordinary veggie platter into a hockey rink. Color-coordinate the veggies and dip to match each team’s colors when possible.
  • Level up the dessert with an NHL hockey cake — or fun cupcakes featuring the represented hockey teams’ colors. 
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Fun Games for Your Hockey-Themed Party

Hockey may be the most exciting game of all, but other activities can also amp up the excitement during the big day. An air hockey table is always a natural fit, although hockey trivia is sure to please hardcore fans. Scour the stats to come up with truly challenging questions, but don’t forget to provide a prize for the winner. Questions can be announced out loud, but printable trivia also makes for a great activity during commercial breaks.

Another creative hockey game idea? Build a mini hockey rink using life-size cardboard cutouts of the goalies. The goalies can be placed in front of the net to make the game more realistic while simultaneously making your guests feel as if they are playing against the pros. Cutouts can also be incorporated in a unique version of cornhole that includes cardboard pucks in place of typical bean bags. Name a party game, and it can almost certainly be adapted to include a hockey theme.

Hockey Themed Party Supplies

Nashville Predators will play in NHL 2020 Winter Classic.

“Matt Halischuk” by cerebusfangirl is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Balloons, banners, and invites are all essential, but the most impactful hockey party supplies are also the least expected: cardboard cutouts. Life-sized styles are ideal, as these allow guests to pose to their heart’s delight. They will love making funny faces and taking photos with their favorite players. Feel free to add head-in-hole or BigHead cutouts to the mix for a truly dynamic party setup. 

Celebrate Hockey With Cardboard Cutout Standees

Are you ready to start the year off right with an NHL Winter Classic party? Whether you’re excited to create the perfect photo opportunity with a head-in-hole cardboard cutout or prefer to play a vibrant game of floor hockey with life-size cardboard cutouts of goalies, the entire Cardboard Cutout Standees team is here to help make your hockey-themed party a success! Visit our page to upload your favorite hockey-themed photos, or get in touch to learn more.


  • Jason Frank

    Jason Frank is the Co-Founder and Vice President at Cardboard Cutout Standees. After 25 years of selling factory automation he started the company with one of his college roommates. The company has grown to one of the largest providers of large format custom printed products in the United States. Along with the namesake cardboard cutout standees, they also provide BigHeads, Point of Purchase Displays, Wall Murals, and Wall Decals to a diverse client base across the US and Canada. When not focused on the business, you usually find Jason either on the road biking or our in the woods and fields of western Wisconsin.

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