The Super Bowl, the annual championship game of the National Football League, has become a global event.
According to Nielsen, a ratings measurement firm, the 2013 game, which pitted the Baltimore Ravens against the San Francisco 49ers, drew an average of 108 million viewers, peaking at 113.9 million during the final 17 minutes of the broadcast, when the Ravens withstood a furious rally from the 49ers, ultimately winning the game 34-31.
Fans and non-fans alike typically spend at least some time watching the big game, and many people do so at parties geared around the game itself. A good Super Bowl party can make the game that much more enjoyable, and the following are some must-have items no Super Bowl party host should forget.
* Snacks: Snacks play an integral role on Super Bowl Sunday. Unlike other popular gatherings, Super Bowl parties do not typically feature a sit-down meal as part of the festivities. Though it’s customary for hosts to make one large dish or order pizzas for guests, it’s still necessary to stock up on snacks to keep guests from getting hungry as the party progresses. The game itself often lasts three hours or more, and many guests will begin to arrive an hour before kickoff, if not earlier. So be sure to have snacks like potato chips and pretzels as well as some healthier fare, like vegetable trays, on hand for guests.
* Dips: Of course, snacks always taste better when guests have something to dip them into. When choosing dips for the party, encourage guests with culinary skills to make their own homemade dips and bring them to the party, and make some of your own as well. Hosts hesitant to try their hands at making dips can always buy some from the store, just be sure to choose popular dips like onion- or cheese-flavored dips and even some salsa.
* Nachos: Certain foods have become synonymous with Super Bowl parties, and nachos certainly fall into that category. If hosts and guests all eat meat, cook up some homemade nachos with tortilla chips, ground beef (or even ground chicken), green peppers, red peppers, jalapeno peppers, shredded cheese, and salsa, be it homemade or store-bought. Exclude beef or chicken when hosting guests who abstain from eating meat or poultry. Nachos can be made in a snap, so hosts might want to wait until just before the game starts to whip up some homemade nachos.
* Beverages: Beverages are another important must-have when hosting a Super Bowl party. According to Nielsen estimates from 2011, Americans consumed roughly 50 million cases of beer in the two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl (the NFLconference championship games, which determine who will play in the Super Bowl, occur two weeks prior to the big game), a significant portion of which is consumed on Super Bowl Sunday. So hosts should anticipate guests wanting to enjoy a beer or two during their Super Bowl parties. But beer isn’t the only beverage hosts must stock up on. Have plenty of water on hand, as well as some beverages like iced tea and soda for kids and adults guests who do not drink alcohol. Hosts also should monitor guests’ alcohol consumption to ensure no guests overdo it.
* Chicken wings: Like nachos, chicken wings have become synonymous with the Super Bowl.
As the opening kickoff draws closer, here are some keys to Super Bowl party success.
* Know your playing field. Your home is only so big, and that means you will have to limit the number of people you can invite. Crowding too many people into the house can be uncomfortable and dangerous, never mind trying to talk and hear above the cacophony of too many people. Take inventory of how many you can seat comfortably. You may need to move out larger furniture and move in folding chairs if you plan to accommodate more guests. If you live in a warmer climate, you may be able to hook up the television outside and host an outdoor event in the yard. This will enable even more people to attend.
* Size up your competition. Super Bowl Sunday is a once-a-year event. There will be thousands of like-minded individuals planning their own parties and utilizing the same services in your local area. Those who need to rent tables and chairs and rely on a caterer (or the services of the nearest pizza joint) should plan early. If you would like to have a football gathering, start laying the groundwork a few months in advance. This way you can leave deposits for any vendors and be secure in knowing you will have what you need come game day.
* Is it adults-only or are guests able to bring their kids along? Make a list of questions that need to be answered and set up the party parameters. This way you will know what to stock up on in advance. Consider allocating a separate room in the house for kids’ play or for adults who are there for the social aspect of the party and will not necessarily be glued to the television.
* Check your equipment. What is the Super Bowl without a means to watch the game? Retailers often offer the best deals on new televisions this time of year because they know sports fans want to upgrade their televisions for the big game. If yours is a TV that has seen better days or doesn’t offer the high-definition picture guests have come to expect, this may be the time to cash in holiday gift cards for a new flat-screen. If buying new isn’t a possibility at this time, there are centers that will rent electronics.
* Watch the clock. Hardcore fans will not want to miss any of the action. Therefore, refreshments and other components of the party will have to coordinate to the timing of the game. Do the bulk of food preparation before kickoff and allow guests to mingle and fuel up before the game starts. Save finger foods and other snacks that are easily accessible for when the game starts. Guests can take a break at halftime and grab food and beverages that are set up buffet-style in another room. Hosts and hostesses also may want to consider serving as food “butlers” and constantly come out with new finger foods on trays and go around the room to ensure everyone doesn’t miss a moment of the game.
* Don’t run interference. There’s not much entertainment that needs to be scheduled on game day apart from the game itself. Ensure that the television is situated so nobody’s view is obstructed and that people moving in and out of the room need not cross in front of the TV to get food or use the restroom. While it may be customary to decorate your home with a few decorations, ensure any decorations do not obstruct views of the game. To make things comfortable for the largest number of people, consider having two TVs tuned into the game running in separate rooms. This way, guests can mingle and not be tied to one area.
Super Bowl parties are fun ways to enjoy the last football game of the season and have a houseful of guests celebrate and socialize.