The biggest match-up in American sports is right around the corner, and with it the Thanksgiving-like inkling to indulge in all-things bad for you. What's a Super Bowl party without mega nachos, fried wings and buckets of onion dip, after all?
For foodies with a bottomless budget, Guy Fieri (of Food Network fame) is organizing a Super Bowl Tailgate Party featuring linebacker-worthy fare including jambalaya, a whole hog and a steak sandwich station, all for a cool $700 entry fee.
For those fans with regular budgets and a healthy respect for moderation, consider hosting your own Super Bowl Bash for much less than the cover charge to a celebrity gathering. To ensure your event is free of fouls and fumbles, follow these tips for a winning celebration.
Distribute invites now.
Super Bowl Sunday is on Feb. 7, so now is the perfect time to create an invite list for your party and spread the word. To avoid hosting more people than you can manage, make an initial list of everyone you think you might want to come, then evaluate your space and budget and make any necessary adjustments. It's easy to get overly excited about an upcoming event and invite anyone and everyone who comes to mind, so this strategy enables you to be more thoughtful about the gathering.
To cheaply spread the word, consider creating a Facebook event or distribute evites through a platform like Punchbowl, which offers free electronic invitations perfect for both Broncos and Panthers fans.
Choose either snack foods or a main course.
Planning a menu for the big game can quickly get out of hand when you consider all the indulgent treats characteristic of Super Bowl viewing party: sliders, nachos, pizza, chicken wings (and an entire pig, if you're Guy Fieri). These foods are all fan favorites, but purchasing and preparing each one will get costly and time-consuming.
Instead, plan for just a couple appetizers and a main course. For example, chips and vegetables with dip make for perfect starters, pairing well with soda and beer. The main course can be as simple as pizza, though opting for homemade over delivery will save you a bundle. You can also create a pizza "bar" by providing all the popular fixings for personal pies created by your guests. This option is especially popular for kids with picky palates and can serve as additional entertainment.
Related: The best Super Bowl moments.
Make it a BYOB event.
To save on the cost of beverages, have guests bring their favorite drinks to share. This way, you can focus on food and supplies, and your guests can enjoy an assortment of drinks in addition to their favorites. If children are attending your event, skip individual juice boxes in favor of water mix-ins like punch or lemonade.
While drinks are provided by your guests, storage is still up to you. Dust off your coolers and designate someone in the family to make an ice run before the game! Alternatively, you can plan ahead by packaging ice from your ice maker beginning several days before the game.
Shop smart for supplies and fan gear.
Despite what Pinterest wants you to believe, a Super Bowl party can still be a blast without AstroTurf coasters and mini pots of grass topped with decorative footballs. In fact, you can find most of what you need at the dollar store. Keep things festive with cups, plates and napkins in your preferred team's colors, and consider buying a few mini-foam footballs for kids to take home as party favors.
If you want to show your team pride with a new shirt or hat, skip the pricey jerseys and NFL Shop mark-ups in favor of department store alternatives. For example, Kohl's is offering several styles of men's, women's and children's fan gear for 20 percent off, plus you can apply coupon codes for extra savings of 15 to 20 percent off.
Include party games for the kids.
Watching the game is typically enough entertainment for adults, but children need a bit more stimulation. Free printable templates for kid-friendly party games are available online, and can be themed around the Super Bowl for an added touch. You can also designate a craft area (perhaps the dining room table) where kids can color, put together paper projects or even decorate sugar cookies with various toppings for a post-game treat. And depending on the weather in your region, a pre-game football toss will get both kids and adults on their feet.
Create a backup plan for overnight guests.
According to the American Institute of Food Distribution, Americans were estimated to consume an astounding 325.5 million gallons of beer during Super Bowl Sunday last year. While it's no question that barley and hops pair perfectly with Totino's and touchdowns, it's important for party planners to create a safe environment for guests. In addition to offering beverage alternatives like soda and water, make sure designated drivers are present and always have a backup plan in place for overnight guests.
Above all, Super Bowl Sunday is an opportunity to have fun and enjoy the company of friends. With a little careful game-planning, you can kick off the Super Bowl without spending too much.
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