Most Super Bowl parties start out with everyone excited to join in the biggest televised event of the year. But the mood tapers off some time in the 2nd quarter when the relentless ad breaks dissolve the tension of the game, and people realize only one or two die-hards care about the result while everyone else is simply there to hang out, drink beer, and eat wings. (Upgrade your spread with this recipe for awesome grilled shrimp po’boy sandwiches.)
The solution? Throw a creative, memorable event on the cheap with a clever theme and activities that keep even the most apathetic party-goer involved until the end of the fourth quarter. Check out these ideas from television writer and producer Dominic Russo, co-creator of Comedy Central’s Workaholics and co-author of The Party Bible.
Pick a theme
It’s the same reason why Halloween and St. Patty’s Day are always a blast: When people stop trying to look cool, they loosen up and enjoy the party. If it looks like one half of these themes might be more popular than the other, Russo suggests splitting people into teams by birthday, so that everyone born in January to June is on one side, July to December is on the other.
Full House vs. The Wire
Even if you’re not a fan of Baltimore or San Fran’s football teams, you probably have a soft spot for the iconic TV shows set in those cities: HBO’s critically adored police drama The Wire (set in Baltimore), and sappy 90′s family sitcom Full House (San Francisco). Asking your guests to dress up couldn’t be easier, since all they need is a rumpled suit and an empty whisky bottle to look like Detective McNulty, or a cheesy old button-down to play Bob Saget’s Danny Tanner. “The idea of Danny Tanner talking to Omar on a street corner just makes me laugh,” says Russo. “On Full House, everyone is honest and does the right thing, and The Wire is the absolute opposite of that.”
Football vs. Football
We’re talking about American football versus the rest of the world’s football: soccer. This is ideal if your friends include a mix of guys who love the gridiron, and sports agnostics who claim to be there “to watch the commercials.” Your invite should advise friends to either wear something representing their favorite NFL team, or dress as a soccer fan—or even a European clubgoer. “You’re making fun of the European dude culture a little bit, which everyone enjoys doing,” says Russo. He suggests being prepared for people who show up without the proper attire by heading to the thrift store and grabbing anything sports related that you find—especially if it’s a South American soccer team you’ve never heard of.
“Giving people an activity keeps everyone engaged in the party,” says Russo. That’s an important ice-breaker for any crowd, but especially when you have a mixed group of work friends, older friends, and all their significant others at your Super Bowl gathering.
Fantasy football party
This little competition determines who really does know how to party. Write everyone’s names on a white board, and keep track of points as the night goes on. For example, you can give 1 point for each drink refilled for a fellow guest, 3 points for making a cash prop bet, 7 points for chipping in for food; subtract 1 point for every little spill, 3 points for a full spilled drink, and minus 7 points for being in the bathroom during a scoring play. Award a prize after the game to the winner, such as a bomber of excellent beer—even the really good ones top out at only $15 to $16.
Super Bowl Jenga
Write out easy dares on the blank side of Jenga blocks, such as “take a shot” or “post a picture on Instagram of your goofiest face.” (Google “drinking Jenga” for more ideas.) “Everyone takes turns drawing a block from the Jenga tower during in-game events like first downs, turnovers, scores, and penalties, and they have to do what’s listed on the other side,” says Russo. Whoever knocks over the tower has to bring everyone else drinks during the next round.
Serve great brews
Just because your party is cheap doesn’t mean the beers have to be bottom shelf. Lagunitas Brewery is based just outside of San Francisco and puts out several excellent, reasonably priced beers such as their Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Pale Ale and Pils, a lighter pilsner. From the Baltimore area, try Flying Dog’s Underdog Atlantic Lager—appropriate for both teams’ hard-won trip to the Super Bowl—or the Doggy Style Classic Pale Ale. Or you can drink to neutrality with a craft ale from New Orleans. Sip the excellent suds from Abita, such as the Turbodog, an English-style ale, or the Restoration Pale Ale.
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