The Super Bowl Party: Lessons from the Holidays

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No shiny decorations, no sit down dinners, no elaborate invitations, no fancy attire. But a Super Bowl party, marooned in the middle of the longest stretch of winter, may be the most festive thing going -- liberated as it is from the formality and glitz of the holiday season, now all but a distant memory. From the TV to the libations to cleaning to guests, we've rounded up some of the tricks that transfer to fete the Giants & Patriots matchup.

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In descending order of importance, the crucial elements of a Super Bowl party are: the TV, seating, drinks, snacks and cleaning.

  • The TV. It may seem superficial, but we know people who will choose which Super Bowl party invitation to accept based on the quality of the TV over any other element -- comfort, location, cleanliness, food, or whether or not they even know or like the host.
  • If you weren't among the hordes that bought flat screen TVs (apparently the most reliable and greener TV option) on Black Friday, here's a handy guide for buying one (though the best day of the year deal-wise for buying a new TV? The day after the Super Bowl).
    Since it's what your guests will be staring at for 3-4 hours, you'll want to set it up in an appealing way. But more important than the decor is the viewing distance and angle. This guide can help, as can this calculator: input your screen size and shape, and/or viewing distance and it spits back your viewing angle, minimum and maximum viewing distances and screen widths.

  • Seating. providing enough seating for your guests has never been more important. Bean bag chairs and floor pillows are better than folding and occasional chairs if you have to augment, and arranging them against a wall provides more back support. Use trays on the floor instead of side tables to prevent spills.
  • Based on your TV setup, make sure all seating has an optimal view of the screen. If your furniture is arranged with the TV off to the side, reposition at least the couch to face the screen directly -- creating separate party "zones" is less important here (with potential exceptions, see below).
  • Drinks and snacks. Don't run out! Use this calculator to figure out how much alcohol to buy (beer is fine, and there's no need to go expensive; your guests will likely only notice its presence or absence). Of course, have plenty of non-alcoholic options, and food doesn't have to be a full meal -- for us West Coasters, the game is on during that dead zone between lunch and dinner. Snacks can be anything, but we appreciate a balance of healthy (veggie/fruit plate) and indulgent (potato chips, cookies), sweet and salty.

  • Cleaning. This may be more of a concern after the party than before it, but a basic cleaning will do. Save any special touches (like candles or pretty towels, say) for the bathroom, as this will likely be the only time when your guests take a break and look around. This isn't the kind of party where you take guests on a mini house tour, so close off any rooms that won't be used during the party and forget about them.


Of course, these tips are predicated on guests who are all into football. But we know that's not always the case -- there's often a significant other or friend who's along for the party but bored to tears by the game. We suggest making a stack of magazines or photo albums part of your room arrangement, as well as a deck of cards and Jenga, something that can be enjoyed solo or with a like-minded partner. As a host, try to be aware of who the non-fans might be, and be sure introduce them to one another.

Images: BestStuff.com (top) and Viking.