Score big with a frugal Super Bowl party

If you’re planning to throw a game-watching party Feb. 5, as the New York Giants face the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI, you’re not alone. According to Bloomberg News, an estimated 34.9 million Americans threw Super Bowl parties in 2011, and 61.2 million people attended a Super Bowl party.

So whether you’re hosting a large group of people or you’re having an intimate gathering of your closest friends and family, the following are a few tips to ensure you score big without spending big bucks.

  • Set a budget and stick to it. The best thing about a Super Bowl party is that it doesn’t require a lot of planning in the way of entertainment and decorations – as long as you own a TV. So when you are determining your budget the only things you really need to account for are food, drinks and plenty of napkins. So once you determine how much you can – and are willing – to spend, stick to it!
  • Make your own pizza and wings. Let’s face it, pizza and hot wings are a staple on Super Bowl Sunday. In fact, according to the Huffington Post, Americans are expected to consume 1.25 billion chicken wings on Super Bowl Sunday alone. While there are sure to be plenty of deals on take-out pizza and wings on the big day, you may be able to save money by making the items yourself. Download our free Cheap Eats eBook for a great, inexpensive pizza recipe. And if you’re planning on serving wings, it’s a great time to break out the slow-cooker. You can prepare them ahead of time and keep them warm throughout the entire game.
  • Avoid pre-made snack trays. You know those convenient trays full of high-priced fruits and veggies at the grocery store? You can create the same spread for a fraction of the price if you’re willing to take a few extra minutes to cut up the veggies yourself. The same goes for those meat and cheese appetizer trays. You would be shocked at the mark-up on these products compared with the cost of making it yourself. You could avoid the cost of appetizers altogether by making your Super Bowl party a potluck. Simply have each guest bring an appetizer or dessert to share with the group.
  • Make it BYOB. The biggest cost you will incur for the big game is bound to be alcohol, if you’re planning on serving it. One of the easiest ways to cut back on this cost is to make your party a BYOB. Make it fun and have everyone bring their favorite beer or wine to share with everyone, or simply say you’ll supply the first round, but if your guests plan to drink they should bring their own. Have a few two-liter bottles of soda handy for those who don’t plan on partaking in alcoholic beverages. The two-liter bottles cost a lot less than cans, and if you stick with store-brand soda you can save even more.
  • Use real dishes and flatware. While disposable dishes are more convenient, you are literally throwing way money at the end of the night. Why not save the money and use your own dishes and flatware? If you don’t have enough, you can always borrow some place settings from family and friends.

Remember not to stress too much over the details. Sit back and enjoy yourself — it is a party afterall. And even if your team doesn't win, at least you'll know you've won big by pulling off a bash without breaking the bank. So start practicing your endzone dance now!

Jessica Horton is a former copywriter and community manager at MMI.