If you’re looking for January’s silver lining, it’s called the Playoffs: day after day, game after game of quality professional football, hockey and basketball.
We are pumped. And we’re gearing up the preparations for our Playoff parties. They’re like the rehearsal dinner to the Super Bowl’s wedding: casual, fun, and all about food, drink and laughter. Here’s a few of our picks for planning the perfect Playoff party:
1. Draw Up Your Invite List
Make your list and check it twice (too soon?): have you forgotten any football fans? Once you’re sure that all who should be on the invite list have actually made it onto the list, it’s time to extend the invitation. You could call or text, but we prefer online invites, which track RVSPs. So we know exactly how many 6-packs to buy. (Fun fact: Evite offers free sports-themed party invites.)
2. Create a Game Plan
Whether your party is a mini-version of your annual Super Bowl fiesta, or something altogether different, jot down some notes. What will you serve? (Or will you ask your guests to go potluck?) Think drinks. Do you have enough plates, cutlery and napkins? Have you planned kid-friendly food, if you’re hosting a family-friendly party? Your plan doesn’t have to be complicated, but it should help organize your thoughts.
3. Create a Menu
The game may be the main draw, but game food definitely comes in a close second. Creating a Playoff-Day menu can either be stressful or fun, so try to lean toward the second. Don’t plan on overly complicated dishes or food you’ve never prepared; instead, opt for old favorites like pizza, BBQ shredded beef, burgers, tacos and other party food that’s easy to prepare (and serve) in bulk. For inspiration, check out these menu ideas from Martha Stewart, the Food Network, and Kitchen Parade.
4. Think Snacks, Finger Food & Drinks
Once you’ve planned your main dishes, it’s time to think finger foods – snacks for before, during and after the game. If you want simple, go for chips and store-bought dip. If you’re willing to do some prep, whip up a fresh fruit salad, popcorn, or homemade dip. Or, if you’d like the best of both worlds, head on down to your supermarket; many have created to-go game-day menus, so you can chow down on homemade chow you didn’t have to make yourself. Wash everything down with soda and beer. (And don’t forget to buy a few bags of ice!)
5. Tech it Up
What better excuse for upgrading your A/V equipment than the coming sports season? If you’ll be hosting plenty of game-viewing parties this year – or hey, even if you’ll be hosting just one party (but love good sound and picture) – consider upgrading your surround-sound system. Buy the HD Sports package from your cable/satellite provider. Make sure your newest, biggest screen adorns your party room.
6. Have Fun
Remember what we said – party planning can be either stressful or fun. Choose fun. No one will care (or even notice) if things don’t go quite to plan. The point is you’re watching the game, eating good grub, and enjoying the day with your friends and family.