It’s that time of the year again, the leaves are changing, the air is crisp, and football is back on to monopolize your Sunday afternoon rooting for your favorite team. We Americans love our football, and we love to watch the games together with friends and family. You already have the big TV, the sound system, the comfortable couches, and now you’re ready to have everybody over to watch your big rivalry game. There are plenty of ways to spend too much prepping for your watch party but with a little thinking ahead you can have a great time with great food and fun for not that much money.
1. Do Things Yourself
It’s awfully easy to just run to the store and pick up pre-made party platters of sandwiches or veggie trays or whatever your favorite football foods are. Giving in and going the easy route can cost you way more than taking a few minutes to do things yourself. Instead of buying veggie platters, cut vegetables yourself and make a quick dip for them. You can buy pizzas and buffalo wings from the frozen food section and make them yourself instead of ordering delivery and save yourself the delivery fees and tip. Buy store brand chips, salsas and dips and save a few extra dollars.
2. Go Potluck
I can’t deny it, my friend makes hands down the best guacamole of anybody I know. Whenever I have a watch party I make sure to ask him to bring his famous guac and chips and he’s happy to oblige. You can cut down on costs when you host a watch party by asking guests to bring their favorite food and beverage items with them. In your invite state what you’ll provide, whether it’s sodas and beer with some chips and finger foods, and ask guests to bring either specific items or to just bring their favorite thing. It can be fun to see what your friends bring over and you might be surprised, like I was, to find that you never knew your buddy makes an unbelievable side dish. A last tip here, don’t say you’ll provide alcohol. Go ahead and buy a 12 pack of something you like to drink, but tell your guests to BYOB and you’ll save a ton of money and will avoid promoting over-consuming during your game.
3. Only Serve Finger Foods
You’ve probably tried to do burgers and brats for your parties in the past but found yourself running in and out of the kitchen and to the grill and you end up missing a big chunk of the game. Think about serving super easy items like finger foods or larger batches of pre-made items that you can just pop in the oven or crock pot for people to graze on during the game. One of my favorites is to make a fantastic chili in the crockpot and let guests grab some if they want something hearty, or they can nibble on chips and dips and home made vegetable platters. You can also opt for buying a big bag of chicken tenders from a warehouse store and heating those in the oven and serving with celery and blue cheese dressing, or as I mentioned above you can do frozen pizzas. The whole point of your watch party is to have a great time with your friends while actually watching the game so by planning ahead and avoiding big meal items you can stay out of the kitchen and save some money for game day.
4. Decorate Creatively
There is no lack of official branded team items you can buy to decorate for your party, but many of these items carry a price tag that shows they’re officially licensed. Why not get creative and stick make your own decorations? Stick with generic team colors and look for discount items at a dollar store or discount retailer. You can probably find flags to hang or you can buy construction paper and make football helmets or banners to hang for a few pennies instead of a few dollars. If you have kids this is a great activity to get the little ones involved in your party planning and give them something to work on before and even during the game.
5. Buy Sale Items
Companies know that football season is a huge opportunity to get consumers to try their products for football parties and want to entice you with deals or special offers. Keep your eyes open for the store circulars to see what items will be on sale the week or two before your party. Everything from chips, drinks, frozen foods and party platters may be on sale, though as I mentioned before it’s almost always cheaper to make your own platter. Most sales do not exclude coupons so you can double up on your savings by combining coupons you find in the newspaper or online with the sale prices for extra savings.
6. Plan Far in Advance
Unless this is a last minute get together, plan well ahead of time for your party and you can save time and money. Once you’ve sent out your invites get out a pad of paper and a pen and start writing down the different items you plan on buying for your party. When it’s all down on paper you can quickly take stock of the items you really want and cross of things that you don’t need. Starting two or three weeks out, start looking for sales on the items on your list. Check with grocery stores, warehouse clubs, and dollar stores to find the best deals on the food and items you’ll need like paper plates and plastic cutlery. Giving yourself more time to shop sales will allow for you to get the best possible price on your party supplies.
7. Check Your Guest List
Before you send out your invites, take a look at your guest list. It’s tempting to invite all your friends over but things can quickly get out of hand if you have too many people at your party. The more people you have over the more food and drink you’ll have to purchase and prepare which will cost you more money. Inviting the people who are most important to you can help you have a more relaxed time preparing for and enjoying your party and save you a bit of money on buying fewer party supplies.