Listen, Super Bowl LII is less than two weeks away. Much like how NFL players and Super Bowl halftime performers get ready for months leading up to the big game, there’s a lot to do to prepare as a football fan.
Putting together a Super Bowl party may seem like one of the easiest things to do. You order some pizzas, pick up a 12-pack of beer from your closest convenience store, text some buddies, make sure you’ve paid your cable bill, and that’s it. Or it it?
In order to have the ultimate game day party and experience, you have to put in the work. You need to get your house watch party ready by cleaning it and potentially preparing for overnight guests. And because no Super Bowl party is complete without food, you need to curate the perfect party menu with fried appetizers, dips, sliders, and barbecue. In preparation for Super Bowl LII, when the Philadelphia Eagles take on the New England Patriots, we’ve broken down every single thing you need to do this year to get game day ready.
OK, so not everyone knows everything about football. If you just want to get in on the Super Bowl party action but you’re not a longtime NFL fan, it may be time to quickly learn how many points a touchdown is worth, what a down is, and what in the world a tight end’s job is. Though the Super Bowl is often just an excuse to eat copious amounts of chicken wings and drink beer, there is a game on and you should maybe pay a little attention.
After you graduate from American Football 101, it’s time to catch up on everything you missed from this season of the NFL. Did you know the Cleveland Browns went 0-16? Can you name the teams vying for a win in the Super Bowl? Do some quick Googling and learn your stats so you’re as up to date as possible.
If you’re not from one of the two metropolitan areas that the final Super Bowl contenders hail from, deciding who to cheer for can be a bit of a conundrum. Think about classic football rivalries, who may or may not be the underdog, what team has better celebrity support, and whose mascot you like more. These are all valid reasons to root for a football team that isn’t from your hometown or state.
Super Bowl LII is going to be hosted at the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Though the stadium itself doesn’t get a lot of love, there’s a lot to appreciate in the worn turf, plastic seats, and history of this NFL stadium. For instance, did you know NRG Stadium has a capacity of 73,000 and opened in July 2016? Yes, it’s basically brand-stinkin’-new!
Following in the recent footsteps of Lady Gaga, Coldplay, Katy Perry, Bruno Mars, and Beyoncé, superstar Justin Timberlake is returning to the Super Bowl halftime show this year. You know “SexyBack” and “Cry Me a River,” but listen to the rest of his catalogue, including his new single “Filthy.” You definitely want to be able to sing along.
Of course, you want to be able to discuss past halftime shows with all of your party guests. Brush up on some Super Bowl history by tuning into classic performances from recent performers and the likes of Aerosmith, Prince, Michael Jackson, and U2.
This year, NBC will be airing the Super Bowl, and the major broadcasting network will be leading out the big game with what is sure to be a heart-wrenching episode of This Is Us. There may or may not be a major death, and a Crock Pot may or may not be involved.
Determining the mood and theme of your event is the first step for any party planner. The theme is easy: It’s a Super Bowl party. But determining the other general party details — such as whether kids are invited, whether you’ll have a potluck or make everything yourself, or whether you’ll serve beer or signature cocktails — are some of the major party details you need to sort out.
You don’t want to be watching the biggest sporting event of the year on a crackling old television set, do you? In the weeks leading up the Super Bowl, many major retailers sell TVs with major markdowns, so if you’re even thinking about buying a new TV, now may be the right time.
What TV system would be complete without killer surround sound? If you’re really looking to put together the ultimate Super Bowl viewing experience, a big home stereo system that connects to your TV can make all of the difference. Sure, it’s not the same as being at the Super Bowl, but it’s pretty close.
You don’t want your Super Bowl party to break the bank, but you definitely don’t want to be serving up $5 pizza and defrosted leftover Christmas cookies. Figure out how much you can spend on decorations, food, drinks, and decide whether you’ll be able to budget for things like a new TV or rental chairs. But even if you can’t spring for the big ticket items, you’ll definitely be able to throw a killer party.
You obviously can’t have a proper Super Bowl party without any guests. Before you do anything else (we’ll wait), invite folks over for the big game. Keep your Super Bowl party invitations casual. Invite people via Facebook event, email, text, or phone call.
You have to gear up if you’re going to watch the Super Bowl. An obvious outfit choice is a jersey, T-shirt, or sweatshirt featuring your favorite NFL team. But if you lack sports-themed clothing, dressing in the colors of the team you’re rooting for is festive enough. Also, be sure to wear comfortable pants with an elastic waistline. You’re going to be eating a lot.
Before you move forward in your party planning, double-check your guest count. That way, you know how much food to make, the amount of seating you’ll need, and how many various small things (plates, napkins, utensils, cups) to purchase.
If you or your friends don’t want to be looking after a bunch of children all night, consider hiring a babysitter to keep an eye on them while the adults have a good time. You don’t have to go for some elite babysitting service. If one of your friends has a responsible, older kid, that will do the job just fine. Just be sure to pay him or her generously.
If you’ve been bunkered down for the first few weeks of winter, your social skills may be a little rusty. Before you’re tempted to blurt out something awkward or forget how to make a proper introduction, brush up on your small talk and etiquette skills. It’ll make all the difference in being a gracious host.
Hosting a Super Bowl party is no small feat. As with any type of event planning, organization will be key. Schedule your time down to the hour, knowing when you have to do your shopping, cleaning, food prep, cleaning, reorganizing, and more. Be sure to give yourself a little wiggle room, too. You don’t want to be chopping onions for your famous guacamole as your guests start to arrive.
You don’t want your guests brushing crumbs off the couch, staring at spills on your stove, or stepping over piles of clutter when they’re trying to relax and enjoy your Super Bowl party. Be sure to clean your kitchen, living room, bathroom, and any other visible space long before your first friend steps through the door.
You never know what’s going to happen. One of your friends could drink a little too much winter ale, a massive snowstorm could hit, or some children could get a little too tired before the fourth quarter comes to an end. If you have the space, make sure to tidy up your guest rooms with fresh linens and towels, just in case.
You want to make sure that your house feels festive for the best possible Super Bowl party, so be sure to decorate. Of course, an obvious décor motif is to fill your home with footballs, faux grass, and goal posts to mimic a football field. But you can also get a little more creative with trophies and the colors of the Patriots and Eagles.
A football game isn’t exactly the kind of activity that gets the youngsters pumped. If you don’t think the children attending your Super Bowl party will be able to be behaved for the duration of the game, set up a separate space where they can play. Fill your kids’ room with age-appropriate games, movies, and snacks. Just be sure that a babysitter or adult is present to keep things in check.
Not everyone at your party is going to be incredibly interested in the game, so have a few alternative activities planned for your friends who love chicken wings and beer but not so much football. Turn the Puppy Bowl on in another room, have board games set out, or have an entirely separate space available with more traditional party elements and music playing.
Before the actual Super Bowl kicks off, there are hours upon hours of pre-game coverage. If you or your guests aren’t really into that, start your own party in a traditional manner with some pump-up tunes. Create a Super Bowl playlist filled with former halftime performers such as Michael Jackson, Prince, Madonna, and Katy Perry. Don’t forget stadium anthems such as Queen’s “We Will Rock You” or The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army,” either.
One of the best parts of any Super Bowl party is the food. So, you need to plan out your menu down to the T. Of course, you need classic Super Bowl party foods such as pizza, wings, chili, and anything made with beer. But feel free to get creative with a signature dish or two.
After you plan out your party menu, head to the grocery store. Depending on the size of your party and the number of dishes on your menu, you may need to make more than one trip. If you do, buy canned goods, sauces, and other non-perishable food items first. Then, when the game is just a few days away, buy your meats and produce to ensure they’re as fresh as possible.
Of course, you need to serve up some pizza for your Super Bowl party. Instead of waiting hours for takeout pizza, fire some pies yourself. Making pizza doesn’t have to be complicated; there are plenty of easy shortcuts from pre-made dough to jarred pizza sauce and pre-shredded mozzarella cheese. Just be sure to have some fresh toppings, and you’re golden.
Somehow, the brownie has become the go-to Super Bowl Sunday dessert. This rich, fudgy dessert is pretty satisfying for people of any age, so we get it. Break away from the boxed brownie mix and try making yours from scratch. The difference will be noticeable.
Beyond the brownie, give other desserts some love. Whether you decide to make a giant crispy rice treat in the shape of a football, bake up come cookies, or bake a cake, have something else sweet on reserve.
Listen, mistakes happen in the kitchen. Pizzas get burnt, chicken wings turn out dry, and black bean burger experiments can go awry. If this happens to you, make sure to have a pizza joint on reserve. You may have to wait a long time for your food, but at least it’ll be good.
You don’t want to be chopping onions, sprinkling garlic powder on your pizzas, or mixing up a batch of chocolate cookies as your guests start to arrive. Learn the art of “mise en place,” and prepare all of your ingredients ahead of time. In addition to washing and chopping everything before you start cooking, certain dishes, such as dips and desserts, can be made days in advance.
If you don’t already have serving platters, a chip and dip set, and some buffet food warmers, you should invest in these popular entertainment items. Trust us: When you’re serving food in big quantities, you’ll be thankful when you don’t have to run back and worth to put out new trays of macaroni and cheese.
After all of your food has been prepped and made, put all of your shiny new serving platters to use. Reserve the counter space in your kitchen for your massive food spread. Try and keep your foods organized. After the plates and silverware, start with appetizers at the front of the buffet followed by main courses and desserts.
You don’t want your guests to get completely lit, but it’s always great to have alternatives to the everyday beer and wine. Have basic liquors, such as vodka, tequila, gin, and rum, on hand along with a few simple mixers so your guests can make their own cocktails.
Not everyone at your party will be able or want to drink. Have a diverse offering of non-alcoholic beverages. Soda, juices, and some bottled water will go a long way to make your under-21 guests and designated drivers happy.
You know what party detail frequently gets forgotten in the shuffle? Ice. Americans prefer their drinks chilled, so be sure to make a ton of ice or buy one of those big ol’ bags from the gas station before Super Bowl Sunday.
You don’t want to prepare a massive menu only to find that you don’t have enough space to put out all of your dips, sandwiches, pizza, wings, and dessert. Long before the buffet goes out, make sure that you’ll have space for the spread. If you find that you don’t, don’t be afraid to rent (or buy) some folding tables.
You don’t want to leave any of your guests awkwardly standing while they’re trying to watch the Super Bowl. Make sure that your viewing space has enough couches and chairs so everyone can be seated comfortably. If you’re lacking space, you can improvise with pillows on the floor, dining room chairs pulled into the living room, or even a few rented chairs if you’re really lacking seats.
Some may frown upon disposable tableware, but for a big Super Bowl bash, easy clean-up is key. Invest in massive stacks of plastic silverware, paper plates, and disposable napkins. You’re going to be eating classic American junk food anyway; nobody is going to mind if they’re eating off of something that can be tossed in the trashcan.
During the Super Bowl, there will be dramatic and excitable moments, causing people to jump up and possibly spill food all over your sofa and floor. Understand that these things happen, and prepare yourself by stocking up on carpet cleaner, detergent pens, and paper towels.
There’s nothing worse than a party ending, getting ready to clean up, and discovering that you’re completely out of big trash bags, dishwashing liquid, and sponges. Long before kickoff, double-check that you have enough cleaning supplies for before and after the game.
There needs to be some friendly competition at your Super Bowl party, so don’t forget to organize a little betting pool. You can go classic by making some football squares or get a little creative with your betting pool by bringing in some Las Vegas odds and bets. Keep it all in good fun, though. Nobody wants to accidentally run an illegal casino out of their home.
Super Bowl Sunday falls right in the middle of winter. If it happens to be snowing in your area (which is very likely), make sure that your guests have a clear place to park. Shovel and salt your driveway and sidewalk. It’s an easy and courteous thing to do.
In addition to the snow, Super Bowl Sunday can get a little sloppy. Don’t let your friends drink and drive. Make sure that they all have safe rides home, whether they carpool, take taxis, or call an Uber. It can save lives and it’s simple enough.
The most important thing to do before Super Bowl LI is relax and have some fun. Yes, planning a big football party can be a little stressful, but don’t take it all too seriously. Make sure to take some time out for yourself and spread out the party planning among a few people. The second the game kicks off with the National Anthem, be sure to sit down, grab a big plate of food, and enjoy the spectacle. You are the ultimate Super Bowl host.