But you didn’t. And you’re not alone. The Super Bowl season sneaks up on millions of Americans every year. And it’s not entirely your fault. All the other holidays are filled with helpful markers that remind us well in advance. We know it’s nearly St. Patrick’s Day when McDonald’s starts serving the Shamrock Shake. We know about Christmas when we hear the premature holiday music playing in October. We (should) know about Valentine’s Day when the supermarkets turn a violent shade of pink (they’ve turned pink, gentlemen). But the Super Bowl season will jump out and get you. So don’t sweat this last-minute planning. There’s still plenty of time to piece together a great and, more importantly, low-cost Super Bowl party that provides your guests with a quality atmosphere and delicious food.
Fill Up the Roster
Before we begin, let’s talk about the guest list. Your party should include more than just that uncle who hasn’t washed his team’s jersey since the early 90s. That would make for a lonely gathering, so spread out the net and invite those co-workers, neighbors and complete strangers to the party. They don’t even have to like the sport.
Super Bowl parties are no longer specialized events for die-hard football fans alone. Now is the time for the once-a-year party fans to jump on the bandwagon, paint their faces and stuff their gullets with as many mini corndogs as they can. These are the guests who come just to see the commercials and the halftime show and then spend the rest of the time on their cellphones. Don’t let this bother you; embrace them as an important element for the perfect Super Bowl party makeup. If your party were a human body, these guests would be the equivalent of a full head of hair: You don’t really need them, but they add a certain youthfulness and volume to your head-banging party.
Guard the Piggy
Super Bowl parties don’t have to be expensive. You won’t have to worry about activities or mood music for your guests because the content’s already provided on the television. You will, however, need to do some prep work for the food and atmosphere, so here are some ways to keep those purchases within the budget.
The best way to shave those expensive edges off your party is to make it a “bring your own thing” kind of event. Potlucking is an age-old tradition, so don’t worry about asking your guests to contribute food, snacks and beer to the festivities. It will lower the costs and alleviate some of the time commitment, allowing you, the host, to be calm, cool and collected while you enjoy the game.
Better yet, help organize the masses by divvying up specific foods to make a cohesive meal. You’ve all been to those potlucks where six people bring potato chips, one guy brings Bulgogi and then no one thinks to contribute plates or cups. Coordination is key. There’s even a free app that helps with this planning process called Thing to Bring, which allows you to set up the guest list, send out the invites via email and create a list of food items for your party people to bring. When your guests respond to the invite, they pick which type of food they want to contribute. It’s a perfect tool for larger parties.
Bulk Up with Carbs
If you want to serve snacks at your Super Bowl party, stay clear of those pricey, premade party platters. Veggie plates shouldn’t cost you $10. Spend a few extra minutes chopping up some broccoli, carrots and peppers, throw in a cup of ranch, and you’ll have a cheaper, better-tasting platter than any store could sell you.
But let’s not kid ourselves. No one’s showing up to this shindig for the veggie platter. Stock up on frozen, fried delicacies such as taquitos, nachos, mini pizzas and fish sticks. And if you have a membership at places like Sam’s Club and Costco, this is the perfect time to take advantage of those discounts.
And when in doubt, turn to the pasta casseroles. Add some shredded cheese and pepper. Sprinkle in some bacon bits and half-and-half. Top with bread crumbs. It’s a carb-lover’s paradise. These calorie-dense foods are perfect for feeding large groups of hungry guests. Fair warning, though: If you’re going this route, your CrossFit Paleo-Dieting friends probably won’t be staying past halftime.
Be wary of purchasing those fancy official team decorations that will likely throw a wrench in the cost-effectiveness of the party. The napkins and tablecloths don’t need to be engraved with your team’s logo. And you don’t need to provide replica jerseys or authentic football helmets as party favors.
That being said, decorations set the mood of the party, and you still want to be supportive of your team, so find the middle ground at your local dollar store. Football teams are suckers for primary colors, so it should be easy to find plastic tablecloths, streamers and utensils that match the colors of the professionals, all at a reasonable price.
But if you’re looking for that final touch to pull the football theme together, check out Fathead for their Super Bowl sales on quarterback decals. These peel-and-stick wall decorations are an excellent way to raise your party to historic levels while maintaining the weight of your wallet.
You don’t have to pay big bucks for a Super Bowl party. Using these tricks will scale back the prices while maintaining the high quality of your celebration. However, you will have to invest some of your time to pull off this celebration on a budget, so make sure you plan accordingly. Be creative, be smart, and always look for a better way.
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