To be honest, my interest in football is modest at best. But I am quite fond of the Super Bowl. Maybe it's the national excitement, with parties popping off around every corner. It's also, no doubt, in part to a love of game day foods (BBQ, nachos, and hot wings!). And the week leading up to the game is also a culturally accepted period to upgrade to a newer and bigger screen (the fiscally responsible may disagree). Here's a checklist we've devised to convert your living room into Super Bowl central...even if it's only because you want nachos.
Of course, we've got to start off with the most important part of hosting and viewing the big game: the screen. If you're a sports enthusiast, it's not unreasonable to consider a 50" screen a starting point. At this size, viewers sitting both near and at the rear of a living room can enjoy the game without having to interrupt with, "what happened?, every few minutes. In nearly every other instance I promote the Apartment Therapy mantra of "small is cool", but not when it comes to sporting events and screen size, where a Texan "bigger is better" rules.
- Samsung 55" Class LED 7000 Series Smart TV - One of my own "tech top 10s" of the last year, this slim bezel HDTV sports a midcentury modern pedestal base puts out a big image while somehow disappearing into the background while off. As someone who lives in a space where ambient light control is an issue, this unit's high contrast ratio, fast refresh rate, and LED backlighting (dialed down a bit) puts out a fine game time picture.
- Optoma HD20 - if 55" still seems too small and you're hosting a large group of friends, a HD projector could prove to not only provide a LOT larger picture (how does a 300" screen sound?), but also be a lot more affordable compared to high-end LCD LED and some plasma models ((Staples is selling the HD20 for $50 off right now). The Optoma HD20 is rated for 1080p images, which is actually overkill for most broadcast sports, but it's still nice knowing you can enjoy every throw, kick, and fumble in the highest resolution. You'll just need to make sure you purchase the addition of a screen and have sufficient window shading for the best picture.
As amazing as modern HDTVs are for crystal clear video, they're a big step back when it comes to sound. There's just no physical way manufacturers can cram a sufficient audio system into these increasingly slimmer form factors. And because we think many households aren't necessarily looking to add a slew of audio components to the household, we're big proponents of sound bar speakers. These space saving, all-in-one solutions aren't audiophile capable, but they're more than well equipped to handle Super Bowl duty and fill the average living room with the grunts, whistles, and celebrations from the game. I've never pushed my sound bar beyond the 1/3 point, and when I did, I got a complaint from the neighbors below!
Not all of us are fortunate to have expansive sectional couches. And sometimes even when you do, game day poses an issue of where to fit everyone. An affordable and easy to store solution are floor cushions. Guests can both sit on them, and also use them as pillows to lay onto or across. They also make fantastic projectiles to throw at opposing fans when necessary.
Drinking and drinking games have always been a part of the Super Bowl experience. And everyone knows beer on tap taste better than doling out individual cans or bottles. Impress guests and keep cleanup duty of trash at a minimum by purchasing some (many?) kegs of your favorite beer and dispense using a Kegerator. The Avanti CB350S-IS is portable and offers LED lighting and electronic temperature controls for a hi-tech update to an old fashioned tradition.
There's a good chance not everyone in attendance at your Super Bowl party could explain a first down from an extra point. But everyone can tell you Super Bowl game day means snack foods galore, most notably an excuse for us to partake in vast quantities of nachos (at least at our household).
But if your Super Bowl party aspirations are a bit higher than my queso-meets-chips recipe, and you're planning for some backyard grilling, homemade dips, or maybe even baking NFL themed sweets for guests, you'll want to check out The Kitchn's list of Super Bowl themed recipes. Mmm-mmm, the Super Bowl Baked Potato Bar sounds awfully delicious.