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Super Bowl LI is Feb. 5 at NRG Stadium in Houston. Anyone hosting a shindig to mark the 51st anniversary of the big game probably fears having to fork over hefty sums of cash to properly entertain family and friends.
Fortunately, you don’t have to blow your budget. Nor do you have to spend the whole day in the kitchen.
Here are some low-cost Super Bowl party ideas that will make your life easier, and leave you with the energy to cheer on your team come game time.
1. Host a potluck
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Deciding to go potluck is one of the easiest ways to make party planning a little less intimidating. You can even create a theme that gets everyone excited to participate. Just make sure you keep track of who’s bringing what: There’s nothing worse than too many pretzels and not enough beer.
2. Plan a backyard tailgate
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Just because you’re staying home doesn’t mean you can’t tailgate. If you live in a relatively warm climate, all you have to do is take the party outside for the hours leading up to kickoff.
Throw some brats on the grill and paint your face with your team’s colors. As a bonus, you’ll keep some of the rowdier behavior outside your home.
3. Create a sports bar experience
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Some people rent out part of their local sports bar to throw a party, but that can get pricey. So why not replicate the experience for a fraction of the cost at home?
Move all your televisions into the designated party space, set up a makeshift bar and, voilà, you have your very own sports bar. Extra points if you have a large drink selection or a keg.
4. Set up snack city
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Super Bowl parties are not dinner parties. There’s no need to go all out with the food you serve. Try getting a variety of snack foods and skip the prepared platters of meats and cheeses, veggies and dips from the grocery store. Instead, make your own.
5. Cut down on food prep time
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Everyone loves a make-your-own-nachos bar, and it saves you a lot of time in the kitchen. You can also apply the same idea to other foods.
Sundae bars are always popular, as is allowing guests to decorate their own cupcakes. Or simply put out skewers for meats, cheeses, fruit or any other foods that might otherwise be eaten with a fork.
6. Stagger the food
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Don’t put out all your food at once. At the end of the game, you’ll probably want to throw away any meats or cheeses that have been sitting out for hours.
So instead, put out food only as needed. That will cut down on waste, leaving leftovers for lunch in the coming week. Just make sure you keep an eye on what guests are eating and keep the most popular snacks coming.
7. Shop strategically
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Think about what you want to make before you go to the store, and create a list so you don’t end up with some expensive impulse buys and without any of your essentials.
Then, look through your local supermarket’s circular, or go online to find deals and coupons. Look for generic brands — if you’re not serving them straight out the box, your guests probably won’t notice the difference.
8. Buy your alcohol wholesale
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You can purchase alcohol at any Sam’s Club in the country, even if you don’t have a membership. Costco and BJ’s Wholesale Club have similar policies in some states.
Just keep in mind that not every employee will be aware of the store’s policy, so do your research. Shopping at one of these clubs often can save you big money on your alcohol purchases.