How to Throw a Super Bowl Party on a Budget

A group of friends watch tv as they celebrate a Super Bowl football game.
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Super Bowl weekend is primetime for sports fans and party enthusiasts — last year, more than 103 million people planned to host a Super Bowl gathering.

They spent an average of $85.36 each, but spare funds have dwindled for many people since then.

This year’s Super Bowl party doesn’t have to take a hit because of rising prices. Here are tips from expert party planners to help you host a memorable Super Bowl party for less on game day, which is Feb. 11.

Create Your Own Stadium

A top priority for your party plan should be your entertainment setup. It’s likely out of the question to invest in the latest and greatest big-screen TV, but if you’re putting together a Super Bowl party, make sure you have enough seating, especially if you’re expecting a large crowd.

Lacking in furnishings? Don’t waste money on top-of-the-line seating. Consider borrowing furniture from a neighbor or family member.

You also can rent furniture for a weekend, then return it when the Super Bowl party is over. Some comfortable folding chairs from a local party rental store could do the trick.

If you do need a better way to watch the game, you may not need to bear the entire financial burden. Friends could chip in for a projector rental to elevate the experience.

“You could look into a group rental of a projector for a more immersive experience, especially if you’re having lots of people over,” said Sally Gibson, founder and owner of Someone Sent You A Greeting, a party content website. “It’s more affordable and can make the game enjoyable for a larger group.”

Decorate for the Theme

The decor can set a festive tone from the time guests walk through the door — igniting their team spirit. Head over to a local craft store and pick out a few football decorations. You can add to the ambiance by encouraging guests to wear team colors.
“A green tablecloth can double as a football field,” Gibson said. “Print out team logos for makeshift coasters or wall decorations. Balloons in team colors are a cheap and good way to add to the festive atmosphere.”

Offer Classic Super Bowl Party Food

Let’s face it: A Super Bowl party is all about the food. Guests will arrive hungry, and they’ll probably head straight for the snack table.
Luckily, there are plenty of snacks you can buy that won’t break the bank. Here are a few affordable Super Bowl party food options to help with your planning.

1. Finger Foods

Snacks like chicken wings and nachos are a Super Bowl party favorite.

You could also keep it simple and buy a stack of frozen pizzas. Bonus points if you can get them on sale or track down a coupon. Some pizza delivery places offer specials for Super Bowl Sunday.

Don’t forget something for guests to snack on while they’re watching the game. That bowl of pretzel rods on your coffee table is sure to be a hit. A budget charcuterie board can satisfy those snack cravings while also livening up your Super Bowl party food table.

2. Main Dishes

Finger foods and snacks can only get you so far. If your guests expect a main course while enjoying the football game, you’ll need an affordable entree for your gathering.
The key to feeding a group affordably is to look for items to make in big batches, such as chilis and soups, which you can set to simmer throughout the game. Look for a recipe that doesn’t call for expensive ingredients and stock up.

3. Themed Food

Don’t forget to tie your Super Bowl party foods into the sport itself. Start with your favorite team’s colors. Choose foods that fit the color scheme or buy food coloring and make your own cakes and cookies.
Football-shaped foods also are a fun way to feed your guests. You can buy cookie cutters to make football-shaped cookies or use melted chocolate to make mini footballs. For a special touch, pipe icing in thin strips to make football laces.

4. Sweets

Speaking of desserts, you’ll want to make sure you set aside a section of your food table for those who have a sweet tooth. The above-mentioned football-shaped cakes and cookies are always a Super Bowl party hit, but you can also add in a few affordable treats to go with them.

Look for recipes with minimal ingredients. You can input ingredients you already have into a site like SuperCook and reduce your shopping list. Certain treats can better feed a large group of people. Divide baked goods like brownies and fudge into small squares to make a little go a long way.

5. Have Guests Chip In

Planning a potluck-style Super Bowl party can quickly cut costs. You can assign a few items like desserts or drinks, or, better yet, have everyone pitch in.
“To feed guests without overspending, consider potluck-style arrangements,” Gibson said. “You encourage each guest to bring a dish. This not only eases your financial burden, but also adds variety to the menu.”

Switch Up Your Beverages

If your Super Bowl party is like most, some attendees may indulge in a few drinks. Stock up on affordable beer and have one signature cocktail for partygoers who want something a little different.

Alcohol isn’t the only thing people may want to sip on during the big game. You’ll earn major hosting points for having nonalcoholic beverages around, especially as the night wears on.

“Be sure to have a lot of water available,” said Virginia Frischkorn, founder and CEO of Partytrick, a party-planning resource. “As more people are sober or sober-curious, you’ll find that offering more non-alcoholic options appeals to your guests… and your wallet.”

Organize Super Bowl Party Games

Not all guests want to catch every minute of the game and commercials. Super Bowl party games can keep the fun going for people who want a break from the TV.

“Organize simple games during halftime or breaks,” Gibson said. “Football trivia, betting pools (just for fun) or a ‘best touchdown dance’ contest can be tons of fun and really engaging without any cost.”

You also can keep the festivities going during the game. Super Bowl Bingo is a popular way to keep the group engaged. Download cards on Etsy and print them out for instant, affordable Super Bowl party fun. Another printable online game is Super Bowl squares.

Football-themed cornhole also provides an activity outside of watching the game. You can do this on the cheap using bean bags and mason jars or by tracking down an affordable cornhole set.

Whether you play Super Bowl Bingo or spend most of your time at the snack table, all that matters is that you and your guests have a great time. With a little extra planning, you can host a Super Bowl party to remember without emptying your wallet.

Stephanie Faris is a professional finance writer with more than a decade of experience. Her work has been featured on a variety of top finance sites, including Money Under 30, GoBankingRates, Retirable, Sapling and Sifter.