The biggest sporting event of the year in the United States is almost here. That means it’s time to start planning how this year’s Super Bowl party is going to take it up a notch. After all, there’s nothing better than building a reputation with friends and neighbors that on sport’s biggest stage, when it matters most, your skills are off the charts and your patio is the place to be!
Whether you’re just starting your tradition or you’re a seasoned pro, here’s a list of sure-fire ways to plan the best event you’ve ever put together
It might sound silly to mention that you need a TV to watch a football game, but it’s not just needing the TV. It’s making sure it’s the right size – and that it’s working! When it comes to televisions, bigger isn’t always better. They’re different sizes for a reason. Different sizes accommodate different sized rooms or areas. So if your patio is a small, covered, 10’ x 15’ space, a 71” television is not only overkill but it doesn’t provide the best viewing experience. A TV that big requires a greater distance between the screen and the viewer, and 15’ just isn’t going to have enough room for enough seats. Check with your AV pro at a store like Best Buy and get a good feel for the size you need to maximize the viewing experience in your space.
Once you have the right TV outside, you have to protect it. Unless you’re mounting and dismounting it every time you use it, a custom-fit television cover will keep your TV safe and sound all year round. And that not only protects your investment but gives you the confidence to know you can plan a viewing party every Super Bowl. You can even take it a step further and put your favorite team’s logo on your TV cover. It’s pretty easy to do – and it’s all part of the easy ordering process for a custom-made TV cover.
What’s worse than going to watch the game only to watch the back of the head of the huge person sitting in front of you? Or the only seat left is on a couch that faces AWAY from the TV? Answer: nothing. That means you have to plan accordingly. Rearranging the furniture is critical to Super Bowl party success. Every seat should both have a quality viewing angle AND plenty of space in front of it for ample room to adjust the view just in case Lurch sits down in the front row. Consider also getting stackable seats that you can easily store and cover when they’re not being used.
If you have two outdoor sofas, in addition to making sure they stay in pristine condition in the offseason with bespoke covers, consider building a quick and easy riser to create a stadium seating effect. All you need is some 2”x 4”s and a sheet of plywood. If you’re going to store it outside, use pressure treated (PT) wood. A 16’ PT 2”x4” is about ten bucks at any lumber supply store. Wherever you store it, build it with at least an extra foot on the front and both sides to have a step so no one gets hurt. Use excess wood to put a lip on the back – and you’ve got a stadium on the patio! Great part about it is you can build a riser in about 30 minutes with just a computer to pull up the directions, radial saw, screw gun, and a bunch of screws.
In the words of the great philosophical sage Shaggy from Scooby Doo, “Duh.” But it’s not just the concept of food. No, a Super Bowl party isn’t a Super Bowl Party with a capital “P” unless it has the right kind of food. The basic appetizers are your core and then you can add the flourishes you want:
- Chips and Dips. Lots and lots of dips. And chips. And the perennial crudités so the carb conscious can dip veggies instead of chips. Must-have dips include:
- French onion dip (which requires potato chips unless you’re a philistine) and Ranch.
- A Mexican 7-layer dip will draw the oohs and aahs. It’s way easier than nachos and the chips don’t get soggy.
Hummus is a classic vegetarian/vegan guest favorite and a 21st century requirement.
- Also required is a cheese dip of some kind. You could go queso, crab and artichoke, chicken + hot sauce and cream cheese – any of these are good. Put out two and you’re gold. Go for the 2-point conversion and make TWO cheese dips.
- Add a couple dip ideas of your own and your snacks will be a hit. Try some with goat cheese so your lactose intolerant friends aren’t left out.
- Chicken Wings. Here’s the trick with the chicken wings: most store or pizza joint-bought wings are weak. If you have a go-to place nearby that you do like, grab yourself a mess. Figure it at two wings per person because not everyone is going to eat a wing. And don’t get ‘em too spicy – not everyone like-a-da-spice. If you make them at home, use this age-old restaurant trick for succulent, crispy wings every time:
- Dry season your wings and par bake them in the oven. That means, cook them about 75% of the way. When you’re ready, fry those bad boys to finish cooking and to give them that crispy crunch. Should only take about 1 minute in the fryer. Then toss them in your favorite sauce in a large mixing bowl. Boom. Done.
- The bread bowl with spinach dip? Gets eaten every time.
- Salami/sausage & cheese platter. Guys will love you. To. Death.
For main dishes, sandwich-style food is the best. Sliders of any kind – burgers, fried chicken, French dip, pizza rolls – are easy to prep, easy to handle while watching the game, and not too big so that guests can also enjoy the dips. Other options include pizza, firing up the grill for burgers, sausages, and hot dogs. Take that up a notch with a trip to Costco for some nice steaks or Tri-tip in your favorite marinade. Maybe ginger sake prawns? Sky’s the limit.
Place the dips out on your patio’s table a solid 30 minutes before guests arrive and use your custom table cover to keep them fresh. Make sure you put a candlestick, plastic cup – anything at least 8” high – at each corner of the table and one in the middle, then slide the cover on. These will keep the cover raised, off the food, and when you’re ready, simply pull it off. Keep the sandwiches in a warm oven and serve when ready.
Honestly – this one? There’s a little thing called BYOB. KIDDING. Kind of. But the key here: fridge or cooler full of a mix of beers from the standard American lagers to microbrews, some sodas, and bottled water. Add in a good bourbon, a good gin, and a good vodka with classic mixers like tonic and soda. Slice up some lemon wedges and lime wedges. You’re done.
Take care of these and your party will be a hit. And next year, change up the food a bit – everyone will be wondering just what delectables you’ll be serving this year!