Are You Ready for Some Football?
Everyone watches the Super Bowl, even people like me who seldom watch sports. Super Bowl Sunday is an undisputed de facto American national holiday. If you don’t score coveted tickets, you’re most likely sitting at home or in a sports bar somewhere watching it on television.
In addition to championship football, there are the gotta-see commercials and half-time show that provide a lot of laughs and entertainment. Watching the game with good friends is always fun and makes for a great party. All you need is delicious food, plenty to drink, and a television.
Super Bowl parties are traditionally informal affairs. If you’re holding one at your house this year, and want to liven it up with a festive touch, here are some ways to score a touchdown.
The goal here is fun fun fun, hanging out, and having a good time. Invite anyone you know who’s even remotely interested in football, free food, and booze. The more the merrier, but consider seating when you’re deciding how many to invite. Your guests will want to sit in front of the television, near tables with food, so they can snack while watching the game. It’s been my experience that the rabid football fans take the seats up front and center, so provide plenty of seating on the fringe with extra tables nearby for snacks. Throw pillows on the floor and grab chairs from the dining room if extra seating is needed.
Informal or not, send invitations. Make your own or purchase them online. This Festive Super Bowl Invitation from Purple Trail can be customized and comes with envelopes. Be sure to send the invites out in time to allow at least ten days for an RSVP.
Start planning the menu as soon as the invitations go out. Chances are good, anyone invited will come. Keep the menu informal. Think finger foods . . . snacks and warm appetizers . . . and a simple main dish. Avoid anything requiring a fork. A buffet works best. Plan to have everything ready so your guests can help themselves. Chill drinks and make whatever you’re serving beforehand so you’re not stuck in the kitchen during the game.
Stock up on the classic snacks. Peanuts, pretzels, popcorn, and chips are expected on game day. Have a nice assortment on hand of both salty, to serve first, and sweet-flavored snacks, for later. For a special treat, try one of these delicious popcorn recipes: Marisa’s Garlic and Parmesan Popcorn, Alison’s Caramel Popcorn, or Nicole’s Naturally Sweet Popcorn Balls.
Serve a variety of dips. You can find party dips, salsas, and cheese balls at the grocery store. Or you can make them yourself—it’s easy to do beforehand, and your guests will notice the extra effort. Either way, go with 2-3 different kinds. Choose between chunky, smooth, cheesy, spinach, avocado, salsa, hot, and cold. You want a nice mix of colors, textures, and flavors. Variety is the spice of life, but keep in mind that one person’s “medium” could be another person’s “Holy crap, that’s hot!” Stay on the mild side, and put hot pepper sauce on the table for those who want to pack more punch. Dips can go on tables in front of the television so guests can snack while watching the game. Serve with crackers and hearty chips that won’t break when your guests go to scoop.
Set the buffet table with hearty appetizers. Offer an assortment of finger foods from which your guests can pick and choose. Keep it simple. Again, 2-3 different kinds. Have a fresh veggie platter with simple cool ranch dressing—so good in place of salad, it goes well with everything and is a healthy option.
Keep your main course simple. A chunky chili is always a good choice. It satisfies even the hungriest football fan’s appetite . . . you can make it the day before . . . and it tastes great reheated after it sits overnight in the fridge and all the delicious flavors merge.
Do yourself a favor and serve the chili in paper bowls or cups. Using sturdy disposable dishware and coordinating napkins is fine for an informal gathering and makes cleanup so much easier. At the same time, though it’s easier to toss out, don’t use plastic silverware—stick to the real deal.
Soup containers, the kind you get with carryout, are great for chili. You can find some online at Think Garnish. Use the corrugated as-is (sans the lids, of course) for a subtle, masculine feel—this is, after all, a football party, and what’s not masculine about football?—or dress the white cups up with a fun football sticker. Also, Plates and Napkins has 9-ounce First and Ten football cups, like the one on the right, that could be used.
Provide an array of decorative desserts. Cupcakes, brownies, and other treats with a football motif are easy to make and look great on the table. If you have a tiered dish, put a different dessert on each tier and use it as a centerpiece.
Vary your drink options. Beer is a must-have at any football game, but it might not be everyone’s first choice. Be sure to have plenty of soft drinks on hand and a couple of bottles of red wine . . . or a signature cocktail. Try a twist on the traditional Bloody Mary, garnished with shrimp, celery, and a spicy salt around the rim.
Keep everything chilled and handy for guests to help themselves. Instead of stocking the fridge or an ugly cooler with beer, Julie Mulligan of Celebrations suggests using galvanized tins. Fill with ice, arrange your beers—and soft drinks, too—and tack on a fun sticker to dress it up.
Don’t Go Overboard with Decorations. There’s a fine line between festive and tacky. It’s tempting to hang streamers in team colors or turn your table into a mini football field, but don’t. Instead, use a fringed cloth in a neutral color as a backdrop for your table; and keep decorations simple and understated. Try wheatgrass on the table alongside your decorative desserts or put personalized coasters out for guests to use. A few fun football reminders here-and-there will do the trick nicely.
For those who are interested, here are easy instructions for growing wheatgrass.
In a nutshell . . .
- Send invitations out early.
- Plan ahead so you’re not stuck in the kitchen during the game.
- Offer a variety of snacks—peanuts, popcorn, pretzels, chips—and dips.
- Serve finger foods buffet-style.
- Provide plenty of beverages, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic.
- Keep decor simple and understated.
- Have paper towels and an all-purpose cleaner on hand for spills.
- Send your guests home with a sweet parting treat. A chocolate candy bar, in a personalized wrapper from Party 411, is an awesome way to say “Thanks for coming!”
Enjoy yourself . . . and the game,