Your Secret Super Bowl Party Playbook

January 17, 2014

bag of wise potato chips

We have a friend who sets out a cake when guests come over and calls it a day. Or a bag of chips and salsa or dip, still in their respective bag and jar (gasp!). And if that's not enough, she actually looks like she's enjoying herself. The nerve.

Jest aside, we love this about her. We admire her ability to put the act of gathering first and the presentation a solid second or third. We envy her this clarity and confidence. And we always have fun. Which is why we think it's worth a try. Say, for a Super Bowl XLVIII party. So we're going for a historic first: a simple and personal party for another historic first, the first outdoor, cold-weather Super Bowl.

Here's the thing: you can do simple-the laid back party with a hint of Pinterest -- but stick to the little flourishes that give you real joy.

football snack stadium

So the Snackadium that we pinned to the Wise Super Bowl Party Board does not instantly smack of ease or joy. But given enough time and enough restraint (no straightening up crooked yard lines or snack improvising), this is the kind of project that could inspire some real fun (if not a few pre-kick-off stories) with the kids. Joy. Or not. You decide.

Some other things that might spike the simple and joy meters in equal measure? Grab a can of flat black or green chalkboard paint at your local hardware store (it comes in both spray or brush on). Paint a piece of foam core board, an old picture frame or mirror or even one side of a large cardboard box (you get the picture). Let it dry then welcome your guests with a chalk-written message. Plug your team, add some Xs and Os, print out your 'menu' (however simple or elaborate), or use it to create a Super Bowl scoreboard.

You can also print up a quick stack of these football bingo cards and put out a jar of pennies or bingo chips.

Another idea for the chalkboard paint since you already have it? Paint over some stickers (any sticker large enough for a two-digit number), adhere to glasses and let people write the winning score on their glass as they get their drinks. No one loses his or her drink and the winner scores a little prize. (Be sure to leave out a box of chalk near the glasses.)

Use things you already have like serving baskets, trays and bowls and don't think they all need to match or be football themed. Add ice to a clean galvanized tub or bucket for bottled drinks or juice boxes. Throw in some football napkins or napkins in team colors. And without much additional work, you can also choose some of your snacks, decorations or favors to coordinate with team colors (juice for kids, M&Ms or other candies, frosting for cookies or cupcakes, balloons, beads or nail polish).

silverware caddies

Grab some football coloring books or pads of construction paper at a discount store, haul out your ginormous pile of crayons and let the kids go at it. You could also get the kids in on the bingo fun if they're old enough to follow along.

You can football-ize almost anything, like these football silverware caddies, by painting/icing/adding white football laces. Have the kids paint tin soup cans with flat brown paint, then add the white lacing with chalk or white paint. Use the cans to hold utensils, rolled napkins, votive candles, chalk or crayons. You can draw the same white laces on lunch-size brown paper bags then fill with popcorn and line up the bags in a big basket or on a tray.

Best advice we've gotten over the years: ask your guests to bring something. Mix it up and ask some for dessert, others for chips and dips, side salads, pasta or even beverages of choice. It'll take the pressure off and you can focus on enjoying your company and watching the game.

If all else fails, remember our friend and the cake. She's on to something.

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