If you’re like the 111.9 million other people who watched last year’s Super Bowl, this Sunday will find you gathering with friends and family for Super Bowl 2017 and that means a party!
Here’s how to keep your party under budget but over the top with these practical party planning tips.
Buckle up, buttercup! Here goes!
Each guest costs money. But more important than that, giving your guest the best experience doesn’t cost money, it requires thought. You know your home and how it flows during a party so be sure you can accommodate the guests you invite in comfort as they watch the game. Most people take the game very seriously and don’t want to miss a play because they can’t see. You don’t want your guests to wish they’d stayed home to watch the game. That’s a bad Diva.
You need the right TV.
You need a TV that’s up to the task. If your TV is smallish, hunt and gather the biggest TV you can muster. People will be coming with the assumption they will actually be able to see the game. Don’t disappoint.
In fact – plan on having several TVs because the best Super Bowl parties will spread out into several rooms. More on that later.
I’m not suggesting you run out and buy a TV! Goodness no! Ask around and borrow from friends if you need a TV larger than you have.
If your friends aren’t willing or able to schlep a TV across town, offer to co-host at their house.
You could even consider renting a great big TV. Contact short-term rental chains like Rent-A-Center. Stock is limited so you’ll need to do this as early as possible. You probably won’t be able to rent for just one day so be prepared to have the TV for at least a week. Costs can range from as little as $40 to $300. Get on the google machine and start making calls.
I do not recommend you purchase a TV with the intention of returning it after the game. Tacky, tacky, tacky. Just don’t go there.
Spread Out! Zone Out!
Designate three party areas or Zones and inform your guests as they arrive so they can choose the best place in which to watch. Remember to put out festive snacks and drinks in all areas.
Zone #1 – A television room for those who seriously want to watch the game. This should have the biggest TV in the largest area with the most comfortable seating. Give these hard core fans the space they need to watch undisturbed because truth be told; it’s their day.
Zone #2 – Is a second space for those who like to chat while they watch for the commercials. I like to set up this space in the kitchen and dining room. Just remember to save some food for the #1 people.
Zone #3 – A space is for kids or people totally not interested in the game. Set up this room with toys, cards and board games, video games and have movies or alternative entertainment in this third area. You may have some adults who fall into this category so be sure to think of them, too.
Be willing to rethink your living space to accommodate this party. Get creative and rearrange furniture and rooms as necessary. Spare bedrooms, office, basement, garage, patio – all fair game.
Diva Tip – If you want to be a total Diva; hire a baby sitter for the younger kids who don’t yet share a love of the game. Let guests know that their kids are welcome and will have a great time while they get to sit back and enjoy the party without worrying about the little ones.
Décor on a Dime
Because it changes yearly, find inexpensive ways to incorporate the colors of the teams that are playing. You can find lots of colorful tablecloths, serving trays, bins and buckets at your local dollar store. If they don’t have colors you want – spray paint, baby! You’ll find team logos on balloons and banners there, too.
If you want this to be a yearly event, spend wisely on décor that can be used again. So, don’t go nuts with team colors.
Some ideas for inexpensive reusable décor are:
Divide and conquer the cost.
To help keep costs down enlist a co-host or two, or three. You’ll save money and time by having friends help. Choose the house with the comfiest couch and the biggest TV and plan to divide the costs for food and drink and divvy up preparation time.
Food is arguably the most important part of a Super Bowl party.
- There are 27 other days in February to eat healthy so bust out the party food.
- The game is long so make sure you have enough food. It doesn’t have to be expensive food, just plentiful.
- By limiting the number of dishes, you can cut your food budget significantly.
- Serve items that are easy to prepare and self-serve so as the host, you can enjoy the party too.
- This is a time for disposable paper plates and plastic cups and large, well placed garbage cans. This will make your clean up much easier and save your glassware from being broken in the excitement of a touchdown.
- Two Don’ts – Don’t get tableware or décor specific to any team, that’s so you can use any leftovers next year. Don’t spend much money on items that end out in the trash.
- Make sure you have enough themed disposable tableware for all the snacks you serve.
A crock of nice hearty chili is probably the least expensive entree you can make for a frugal Super Bowl menu. To make it special put together an inexpensive chili “fixings” bar so your guests can customize their chili as they like. You can ask guests to contribute their favorite chili add-ins to help defray the cost.
Chili Bar ideas are: baked potatoes, corn bread, quesadillas, chopped tomato, shredded lettuce, cilantro, white or red onion, scallions, salsa, sour cream, hot sauces and various shredded cheeses. Serve tortilla chips so the chili can be a dip as well. Offering hot dogs with buns can accommodate those who don’t like chili but chili lovers can make chili dogs.
Plan an area for a buffet or entrees in or near the kitchen so food can be kept hot (or cold). Spread the snacks around the house.
Ideas for frugal party fare: Plan on having chips and dips and/or cheese and crackers. Popcorn is very inexpensive. Put out some carrots and celery to look like we care about veggies but don’t forget the dip. Nachos are also a very inexpensive dish everyone can enjoy.
Some other inexpensive dishes that feed a crowd are:
Diva Tip – A Quick Appetizer – Heat an 8-ounce block of cream cheese on a plate in the microwave until it begins to soften. Pour a sweet and spicy sauce, salsa, or my favorite – hot pepper jelly over the cheese and serve with crackers.
I encourage you to make your party a potluck buffet. Believe me, guests love to bring a dish because people really, honestly like to help.
Ask people what special dish they’d like to bring, and then mix it up to make sure you don’t end out with three pots of red chili and six bags of gluten free pretzels.
Get Your Beverage On.
As the host, you’re expected to have a selection of beverages available. Some inexpensive options include fruit infused water, iced tea, sodas in two liter bottles, inexpensive wine and beer.
Setting up a full bar is very expensive so I recommend limiting the alcoholic beverages you provide to wine and beer or offering one signature cocktail. To keep cost low, plan your signature cocktail around vodka as it’s usually the least expensive and least offensive store brand liquor. Ask people to bring beverage of their choice to help fill in.
To greatly improve your store brand vodka, watch this video:
Box Wine Sangria is a great way to stretch your beverage budget. Trade Secret from Professional Party Planners – How to Make Amazing Boxed Wine Sangria
A large capacity beverage dispenser is a hostess’s best friend, here’s one I love – Buddeez Unbreakable 3-1/2-Gallon Beverage Dispenser with Removable Ice-Cone
Let’s be honest, no Super Bowl party is complete without beer. To save money, only buy whatever selection of beer is on sale that week at your local grocer. Beer is always on sale before the big game.
If you’re having a large gathering, you should consider a keg. A mini keg contains 55 (12 oz.) servings. A pony keg contains 82 (12 oz.) servings. Keep in mind, very few people have only one beer. You don’t want to run out but you also don’t want a bunch leftover. Remember you return the keg whether it’s empty or not. Just in case; plan for storing leftovers with some empty, clean milk jugs or other containers.
Where can I get a drink around here?
- Set up a beverage station on any flat surface that guests can access without causing a log jam in the flow of traffic. If you have a large crowd, have more than one beverage station.
- Cover your beverage station with a plastic tablecloth and have a roll of paper towels handy for easy cleanup of the inevitable spill.
- Don’t forget lots of ice, plastic cups and lemon and lime wedges.
- If you’re serving bottled beer have several bottle openers. They tend to disappear.
- Put a Sharpie pen next to the cups so guests can write their names in their cups.
- When deciding where to set up – think outside the kitchen. For example, in my home, it’s convenient to dress up my utility room and use my washer and dryer as the bar. I’ve even gone so far as to fill my bathtub or clothes washer with ice to chill a quantity of beverages. When the ice melts I just pull the plug, or run a spin cycle and let it drain.
Be a thoughtful Diva
As the host, it’s your responsibility to anticipate the flow of the party from arrival to good night.
Arrival – Start your party at least an hour before the game. Plan a spot for coats and purses. As guests arrive be sure everyone knows about the zones and where to find food and drink. Start each guest off with a beverage in their hands.
Halftime – Here’s where the zones switch! Zone #1 will take a break and Zone #2 will be glued to the TV. Anticipate this with a fresh round of drinks and new snacks ready. Now is a great time to take photos, play some music and engage the Zone #1 people so Zone #2 can have their moment.
End on a sweet note – toward the end of the game put a big pan of brownies or chocolate chip cookies in the oven to bake and make the house smell delicious. Pass them out while they’re still warm. Chocolate makes winning (or losing) better.
After the game – Have coffee ready after the game to recharge everyone. If you want people to go home, let the house get quiet and start to clean up. Most of the world has work on Monday, after all.
But if you’re still up for a party, turn up the music, pop open a cold one and bust out your favorite board games!
Who won? You did! Go Diva!