We don't know yet who will be playing, but we do know this about Super Bowl LI: You'll have to throw a sweet party, and soon. Even if you don't care about sports, there's still commercials to watch, right? Here are nine tips to make sure your shindig is fun and affordable.
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.
Another big cost of throwing a party is booze. If you love to do all the food yourself, let your guests know that you'll be providing a couple of nonalcoholic beverages, but that everything else is BYOB.
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 or another membership club. These places also have substantial frozen snack departments for those who prefer warm-and-serve food prep.
Lose the Name-Brand Food Items
Your partygoers won't know what brand of chips they're eating if they come out of a bowl. You can cut your party food budget like crazy if you're willing to go generic, or even by shopping 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 sales circulars to your advantage.
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 floating around. 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'll ensure that your food doesn't become room temperature — and totally unappetizing. That way, you'll toss less food after the game and be stuck in the kitchen less.
Decorate for Under $10
Try to use what you already have in your house — markers and construction paper can be "borrowed" from your kids, for example. If you must spend money, use it on streamers in one of the teams' 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 tablet or smartphone and a decent speaker will suffice for much of your entertainment needs, besides the visuals coming from your television. There's no reason to spend money on additional entertainment.
You will want, however, to have a large enough TV for your friends to gather around. You're already throwing the party, so it's likely you have that taken care of. If not, check out these TV deals to avoid overspending.
Looking for another way to get your guests excited for the big game? Get them to write down their game predictions, including the winner and score. The person with the best prediction could win something fun!
Get Creative With the 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 works.
Many people will be at a Super Bowl party on February 5, 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.
Readers, what are your plans for Super Bowl LI? Have you found other great ways to save money on your own Super Bowl party? Let us know in the comments below!