The Ultimate Super Bowl Party

Some people flock to the food, some come to check out the commercials, and hey – some people even come to watch the football game.

This season, whether you’re rooting for your home team or you just want to see the halftime show, plan a Super Bowl bash that’ll make your guests feel like they’ve got the best seats outside of the stadium.

The Screen
The stars of the show here are the players, and the surest way to a super flop is to broadcast the big game on a tiny screen. Let’s face it: 20 guests and an old 20-inch tube with rabbit ear antennae just won’t make the cut. If you’ve been considering an upgrade, now is the time. Not the right moment for a new telly? Try renting one.

Several A/V rental companies offer one-day rentals on their big screens for occasions like game day, corporate events, and weddings. At Latta’s of Mesa, a 50-inch plasma will run you about $300 and the cost includes delivery and an elevated mount. According to owner Mickey Latta, football season is the busiest time of year for screen rentals; he suggests reserving equipment at least two weeks to a month in advance.

The Grub
When is comes to your chow, keep it simple. Place a variety of finger food options at a convenient grab-and-stuff distance from the seating area. Chips, dips, wings, popcorn, pretzels, and maybe even some crudités (translation: raw veggies) for the health-conscious should keep viewers fueled, at least until halftime. If you plan to serve a meal, let guests take it into their own hands. Think ribs, burgers, brats, or pizza – no one wants to fuss with a knife and fork or perform the old plate-on-knee balancing act when they’re focused on the score.

If you decide to order out, whether it’s through a professional caterer or from your local pizza joint, it’s a good idea to place your order beforehand. Many takeout restaurants allow customers to place advanced orders online, which could save you and your guests a wait of several hours on game day. Fred Renstrom, executive chef and owner of Fat Freddy’s Catering, advises hosts to give the pros at least a week advanced notice for catered events.

As far as beverages go, beer and football are a natural pairing. Make sure you have an extra cooler stocked with ice available. If guests ask what they can bring, have them bring a six-pack. It’s a simple play for even the most undomesticated football fan to complete, and you’ll be sure to have enough brews to go around.

The Spectators
The Super Bowl is the perfect excuse for a large, informal gathering, so don’t limit your guest list. It’s a great opportunity for old and new friends to meet and develop a little camaraderie – granted they’re not rooting for opposing teams!
Whether you plan to include the ladies and kids, or it’s strictly a ‘guys only’ event, keep in mind that some attendees will be more interested in socializing than watching the play-by-play. Kathleen Wulfert, co-owner of Themers Special Event Prop and Décor Designers, suggests creating a separate space for those who might otherwise be distracting to hardcore fans.

“We’ve done separate areas for the kids, or for guests that are less interested in the game,” Wulfert says. “You can even decorate those areas with another theme. Glam it up, ladies. This day does not have to be about football if you are not interested.”

The Arena
You may not be seated on the 50-yard line, but with a little creativity you can still generate some live game day excitement. Try dividing the room down the center with masking tape to separate the cheering sections, and decorate with each team’s corresponding colors. Provide your guests with props like foam hands or team banners to keep the rivalry going. Keep a foam football handy to toss among viewers in between plays. Consider placing radios broadcasting the game in bathrooms and in the kitchen for a more authentic stadium feeling, not to mention a guaranteed no-plays-missed experience for your guests.

To create some halftime fun of your own, Wulfert suggests erecting a goal post in the backyard to test guests’ skills, or creating a mini-field for play in the garage or driveway. “Absolutely decorate for the event, but go big; go unique.”

The Post-Game Plan
Your Super Bowl party doesn’t have to end just because the game does. But before you head outdoors or break out the video game controllers, practice a couple of quick post-game pick-ups to expedite your cleaning. Try circulating with a trash can and collecting all of the disposables; picking up those congealing plates and abandoned cups is half the tidying process, and you’ll be able to stash the trash before the smell of buffalo wings has permeated the whole house. Also, take a moment to check for food or drink ‘fumbles’ that may have gone unnoticed, and see to any spills before they have a chance to set.

Playing host on Super Bowl Sunday doesn’t have to be stressful or expensive, just remember it’s about the four ‘f’s: you provide the food and football; the friends and fun will follow naturally.