Supe Up Your Super Bowl Party -- Savings Experiment

Savings Experiment: Super Bowl Party
Savings Experiment: Super Bowl Party

If competing with hundreds of strangers to snag a bar stool to catch a glimpse of the Super Bowl doesn't appeal, you're not alone. In fact, your friends all probably hope you'll be the one to throw a Super Bowl party! The pros are that you'll get to sit comfortably, eat and drink, be around only people you like, and control the TV remote. On the off-chance you bet on a losing team in your office pool, there are ways to plan a party without blowing all your money.

Ready, Set, Wait -- We Forgot the Streamers?

Super Bowl Sunday is anything but fancy: You don't need to worry about decorations, renting a monkey suit, or getting your hair done. That said, a lot of folks throw parties, so it's worth making your event fun and inviting. According to Bloomberg News, an estimated 34.9 million Americans threw their own Super Bowl parties in 2011, and 61.2 million people indicated that they had planned to attend a Super Bowl party.

You'll want to have enough food, utensils, and bathroom towels (as well as toilet paper) for your guests, but party supplies like streamers are extras. If you really want to decorate, Coupon Mountain offers deals on party supplies coupon codes. ( You can also visit a local dollar store for some cheap decorations and essentials like TP. Try to use real flatware and silverware at your party, since the disposable stuff is wasteful.

Catering to Your Guests

A small party can still be catered. You can save money on catering staff by advertising for someone to man the bar or a couple of cater-waiters on Craigslist, or by advertising on bulletin boards at a local university, gym, or community center. Bottom line: factor in costs like prep time (if you cook) and tipping your wait staff, should you decide to cater.

Cooking vs. Delivery

Super bowl snacks
Super bowl snacks

If you cook, your guests will eat healthier, as you can avoid cooking with lard and will automatically cut out the grease that's caked on industrial ovens. Still, you'll have to clean up before your guests arrive, and after. (This is the case even if your team loses).

Before you even send out an e-vite, calculate potential party costs, such as cleaning and cooking versus delivery. You may want to supplement your main dishes by buying snacks, like carrot sticks and cheese and crackers. You'll want to factor in those seemingly small costs, as well as the ingredients for cooking as compared to ordering food. There are other factors to consider which may be harder to quantify: Write down how much time it takes to order delivery versus shop, cook, and clean twice -- once for when you cook and, again, after your guests leave.

Deals on food directly related to the Super Bowl may not always offer the savings they advertise, as the size of your order will dictate the net savings. Still, it's worth doing some comparison-shopping ahead of time. Also, delivery allows you to save money on things like plates and napkins. Using plastic take-out silverware isn't the most environmentally-friendly option, so you can encourage your guests to write their names on their plastic cups. This way they hold onto the same cup throughout the show.

If you already have a membership to discount wholesale clubs like Sam's Club and Costco, you will easily be able to pick up heat-and-serve type snacks like pizzas or appetizer trays. Of course, grocery stores, such as Trader Joe's, may offer competitive saving options as well, especially on drinks.

Delivery vs. Pick-up

If you go for delivery, keep in mind that you aren't the only one placing an order. According to Bloomberg, Super Bowl Sunday is the busiest day of the year for pizza delivery. If you do order delivery, don't forget to tip!

When possible, pick up your orders. You'll save money on extras (like tipping). Of course, if you do order delivery, remember to tip your delivery person, and ideally to do so generously. You can save time and sometimes money by ordering food online. If you place your order ahead of time, you may be able to research special discounts online. For instance, Groupon, Retail Me Not and local restaurants and grocery stores often offer promo codes, some targeted for the Super Bowl.

Ultimately you may do a combination of things -- ordering pizza (but picking it up), buying pre-made snacks at the grocery store, and cooking a couple ostaples.

New TV Time?

It's not smart, no matter how enticing, to let yourself upgrade your television right before the big game. Retailers know that people will use any excuse to spend money, even if they can (and should) wait for better deals that are a few short months away. Just before the Super Bowl, retailers try to entice consumers into upgrading for the big game. Stores mark down TVs by about 20% before the Super Bowl, sometimes even 30%; but CNN Money reports that the discounts will only get bigger next month. New TV models tend to be released to market in late January and February, which means retailers will cut the prices on last year's models at the beginning of March.

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So wait out on investing in new technology if you can until the spring. You'll be all set for next year's Super Bowl party, and your guests can appreciate the huge improvement in HD technology then. Meanwhile, they can enjoy the pizzas you picked up, the brownies or lasagna you prepared, and the assortment of healthy and not-so-healthy snacks you bought.