The matchup is locked in and the Super Bowl is less than two weeks away. Even if you don't care about the actual game, throwing or attending a Super Bowl party is an annual ritual. There are still hilarious commercials and an over-the-top halftime performance to watch, right?
If you're opening up your home to friends, family, and neighbors, here are nine tips for keeping the costs of throwing that Super Bowl party at a reasonable level.
Skip the "Party Trays"
It's so easy to buy a giant tray of celery and carrots with a tub of ranch dressing in the middle. But it is also costly. Consumer Reports' ShopSmart magazine found that you usually save a lot if you buy the unprepped versions of fresh grocery items versus precut products. One example: Precut green beans cost roughly 192% more than unprepped green beans! So buy uncut packages of the fruits or veggies you would like to serve and slice them up yourself. You'll save a bunch.
Make it a Potluck Party
Consider asking the folks coming to your party to bring a shareable side. Even if you feel uncomfortable asking all of your attendees to bring food, see if your closest friends can bring something. That way there's less of a burden (and cost) put solely on you.
Use That Costco Membership
If you've got it, use it. If burgers are on the menu, you really can't do better than buying your meat at Costco. It also has a substantial frozen snacks department for those whose skills are more of the warm-and-serve variety.
Lose the Name-Brand Food Items
Your partygoers won't know what brand of chips they are eating if they come out of a bowl. You can cut your party food budget like crazy if you are willing to go generic, or even better, shop at Aldi for your generic goods.
Make a List and Plan Your Shopping
You know what's stressful? Trying to shop at five stores in one day to get everything you need without blowing your budget. Make a list of what you'll be serving ahead of time, and use the sales flyers to your advantage.
Remember That the Crock-Pot Is Your Friend
You might even want to borrow a few extra Crock-Pots for your Super Bowl party. There is no shortage of free Crock-Pot recipes. Because, you know, you might actually want to watch part of the game! Frilly foods are not respectable Super Bowl fare. Keep the recipes casual.
The Crock-Pot will not only save you from pulling your hair out, it will ensure that your food doesn't become room temperature and therefore totally unappetizing. That way, you'll toss less food after the game and be in the kitchen far less, too.
Decorate for Under $10
Try to use what you already have in your house — maybe some markers and construction paper. Spend that money on streamers in Carolina Panthers or Denver Broncos colors. Your guests are there for the food, friends, and football. A few simple decorations go a long, long way.
Ax the Entertainment Budget
Your iPod and a halfway decent speaker will suffice for much of your entertainment needs, besides the visuals coming from your television. There's no reason to spend money for additional entertainment.
You will want to, however, have a large enough TV for your friends to gather around. You are already throwing the party, so it's likely that you have that taken care of, but if not, check out these TV deals to avoid overspending.
If you want something else besides great food and football to get your guests excited, get them to write down their game predictions, winner and score. The person with the best prediction could win something fun, like an old trophy with a sticky note indicating the Super Bowl party score-guessing championship!
Get Creative With Additional Seating
Depending on how many "yes" responses you've received to your invite, you might need to procure some more seating. There's no need to buy another couch just for one party. You can bring your occasionally used camping chairs indoors for your party as additional seating. If that's not enough, a piano bench or ottoman could work.
Many people will be at a Super Bowl party on February 7, regardless of their interest in the actual game. If you've decided to host your own party, bank on these ideas to save you big money and hopefully some hassle, too.
And remember, perfection isn't necessary. Creating the atmosphere for your guests to have fun starts with having fun yourself. Coming up with an easy game plan and divvying up some of the tasks makes it easier to let loose and enjoy time with your friends during one of the most fun party days of the year.
This article first appeared on DealNews.