The Super Bowl is the biggest event of the year for football fans. But even for those who really don’t care about who may be playing (and even who the winning team may end up being), they probably have plans to attend a viewing party.
The Super Bowl viewing party is almost as popular as celebrating a holiday, and in a lot of ways, the planning is just as high pressure. The goal though is to have a night that is fun and casual, and has lots of great food.
“Keep things fun and easy with a few football-themed decorations, and you can use streamers and balloons in the colors of the teams playing,” said Maggie Gillette, a fashion and lifestyle expert.
That means, having an informal getting-to-know you plan. “If you have a lot of guests who don’t know each other, provide name tags and add a sticker so they can pick which team they’re rooting for to get conversations rolling,” said Gillette.
Also, since this is a social event that draws people who might not usually watch a football game, have a game that focuses on the other big attraction of the night-the commercials. “You can have people vote on their favorites in different categories, like the funniest, sweetest, or best overall,” said Gillette.
Planning the Menu
When hosting a Super Bowl viewing party, it’s important to consider the reality that your guests will include a range of different tastes and dietary preferences. “With that in mind, make sure to serve a variety of options! If you go with just bar staples, you may alienate those trying to eat healthier. On the other hand, if you’re choosing to continue with your New Year’s resolution diet, you may be disappointing people who look forward to fun, fatty bites on this specific day,” said Joshua Resnick, chef-instructor of Culinary Arts at the Institute of Culinary Education.
As a football fan himself, Resnick (who has hosted Super Bowl and playoff watch parties before) also thinks it’s a good idea to make dishes that don’t require too much cooking at the last minute and are instead more prep heavy. “That way, I can still be a good host and also enjoy the game and commercials,” said Resnick.
You can’t go wrong with chicken wings for the Super Bowl. However, the key is to have an assortment of sauces. “One I love to make is a mix of sweet Thai chili sauce, sweet soy sauce and a drop of pineapple juice. A simple chipotle BBQ sauce is another great option, as well as a creamy cilantro curry sauce,” said Sodexo Live! Executive Chef Jonathan Cowan, Hard Rock Stadium (home of the Miami Dolphins)
Of course, as popular as wings are some great sliders. “Sliders are another one of my favorite dishes for the Super Bowl, and they’re easy for any type of at-home chef. I put a nice seasoned Wagyu beef patty or a fried chicken thigh on a soft potato roll with roasted garlic aioli, thin sliced tomato, shredded lettuce, and pickle slices to give it some crunch,” said Cowan.
But have fun with your menu, and appeal to what your guests and the area you are in most enjoy. “Being based in Miami, a Super Bowl staple here is fresh made empanadas stuffed with beef picadillo or coconut braised chicken, served with sofrito sauce. It’s something that might be a fun surprise for your guests if you want to branch out beyond the traditional dishes you’d expect at a Super Bowl party,” said Cowan.
The Drink Options
Since the Super Bowl takes place in the middle of winter, some hot drinks may be appealing. “You could set up a hot toddy bar with a few different spices like cloves, star anise, and cinnamon to infuse into their beverages as well as different fruit garnishes or to muddle in so guests can put their spin on this classic winter drink. Another great option for a family-friendly party is a hot cocoa bar with toppings like marshmallows, crushed candy canes, whipped cream, and sprinkles that is sure to please kids and grownups alike,” said Gillette.
Pre-batching cocktails saves the host a ton of work. “My go-to tip is batching the spirits together and keeping the mixers separate,” said Farow restaurant co-owner + chef Patrick Balcom. “For margaritas, I love a margarita bar, I would put the tequila and triple sec together in one bottle, then I would keep lightly sweetened lime juice in another container for the guests to mix themselves. I leave out a jigger and recipe for people to make the perfect marg at the drink station,” said Balcom. For a leveled up margarita bar, you can leave out purees to make some different flavor margaritas like mango, coconut, pineapple or strawberry.
It’s Better To Have Too Much Food
There’s nothing worse than running out of food before the game is even over! “When planning, keep in mind that there will be at least 4+ hours of gameplay, commercials, and Rihanna performing. It’s essential to have enough food to last at least 5 hours for your guests to nibble on throughout the excitement. I typically like to have 3 to 4 appetizers, 2 to 3 protein and alternative protein-centric dishes, 1 to 2 vegetable dishes, and at least 2 dessert options for the party,” said Celebrity Chef Kai Chase.
That means having a lot of food to graze on, even aside from the big bites. “I’ve found that the most popular appetizers and hors d’oeuvres that are always a hit to have around at parties are homemade chips and dips, such as guacamole or hummus, cheese and charcuterie boards, and, of course, party wings,” said Chase, who said for the entrée dishes, her go-to’s typically include a hearty chicken chili with all the toppings, a pot of Creole seafood gumbo with mini corn bread muffins, or a taco bar with all the fixings and diverse salsa options.
Plan For Leftovers
Ask your guests to bring their own reusable to-go boxes or Tupperware to take home extra food! “Nothing tastes as good as leftover seven-layer dip once all the flavors have marinated,” said Chase.
All in all, planning is key. Prep as much as you can the day before so you’re not spending all day in the kitchen. “Have all the food ready to fire up, and have your platter and garnishes ready to go so you can enjoy the game and your guests!” said Cowan.
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