This Sunday is to sports fans like what the Academy Awards is to movie aficionados. It's the Super Bowl, my friends. And where there is a Super Bowl, there are Super Bowl parties. Even if you aren't a Peyton Manning fanatic or a Russell Wilson diehard, it doesn't matter. Super Bowl parties are the best way to beat the winter blues, a time when even if you don't know your tailback from your lineman, you gather, chat, eat and have some fun.
So, maybe you fall into that category of folk that hosts said Super Bowl party for your crew. And this year, like every year previously as far back as you can remember, is no different. And this year, like every year previously as far back as you can remember, the Super Bowl has snuck up on you and nestled itself right when you are knee-deep in the school's Cultural Bake Sale (which you are a co-organizer for), your mother's birthday, and the third grade science fair. And this year, like every year previously as far back as you can remember, you pledge to keep it simple and make a few shortcuts so you don't end up spending a crazy amount of time prepping, setting up, and cleaning up.
Those other years? That "short cut plan" didn't work out so well. Never fear! We've rounded up some old reminders and new ideas for entertaining shortcuts that will make this Super Bowl party go smoother, but still have your guests saying, "Wow!" (and not just at how amazing the Red Hot Chili Peppers are).
-- Clear the room. Instead of placing food on coffee tables and all around the abode, move your dining table to the side and make a buffet food station where all of the food is available. It's easier to set up, and folks can move about to grab a plate of munchies instead of reaching over others. This leaves the coffee and side tables free for drinks and such.
-- Think paper (sometimes). This is definitely an occasion to use some paper products, like plates, cups, napkins and so on. Keep it simple, in the colors of the teams or what not. But, don't skimp on the utensils...nothing is more frustrating than trying to cut with a plastic knife or stab a meatball with a fork that's bending.
-- Clean up as the game goes along. Every hour or so, make a sweep for trash and empty plates. Another good shortcut: place one or two trashcans in strategic locations in the main area. You can have fun with this, maybe have some trashcans out, but decorate them with cut-out helmets or footballs.
-- Make those apps easy, but elegant. Yes, chips and dips are a must, but why not load up on fun, new options. Think blue corn tortilla chips with a variety of different salsas and dips (those you can whip up the day before). Or go with wrap apps, like mini mozzarella balls wrapped with slices of roasted red peppers with a cute football toothpick securing it. Again, can be done well ahead of time, yet looks more festive than the usual fare.
-- Ditch the baker's hat. We know that folks love sweets, but baking enough cupcakes for everyone is just too much work for little payoff. Don't think twice about grabbing some store-bought cookies or brownies and placing them on a platter. Folks would love a mountain of cookies, I'm telling you. Even easier: grab two big bowls and pile in some small individually wrapped candy.
-- Think outside the (pizza) box. Though folks fill up on the appetizers, you usually end up calling the local pizza place for a heartier meal. An easy, but more festive idea: get out that crock-pot and make some hearty chili. So simple to do and it can be done ahead of time! Put out some toppings like cheese, little crackers, and sour cream along the buffet and just have folks ladle up that heat into some bowls.
-- Limit the drink choices. Sure, you can have a variety, but you don't need every type of soda or beer or liquor. Offer one or two soda options, a pitcher of water, then two beer options and two wine options -- done! Also, if folks ask what they can bring, encourage them to bring their own beverages, especially for their kiddos, which will cut down on what you have to buy.
Share your easy shortcuts and hints you take when entertaining!