Few things are as American as the Super Bowl. In fact, it's surprising the Monday after the game isn't a national holiday! This year the big game is happening on Sunday, February 3, when the Los Angeles Rams will face off against the New England Patriots.
Whether you're a die-hard football fan or just in the mood to throw a party, you can host a fun fete for Super Bowl LIII without spending a fortune. Here's how to do it.
Hit Up the Dollar Store
Stock up on napkins, plates, cups, aluminum pans, and decorations. "If you want decorations, Dollar Tree stores are loaded with football theme decorations," says Tom Nathaniel, who runs the personal finance blog LushDollar.com. "You should be able to decorate for less than $10."
Buy in Bulk
With bulk purchasing, you'll typically pay a lower price per unit than you would when buying in limited quantities. So if you're going to throw a big party, consider buying in bulk at Costco, Walmart, or BJ's Wholesale Club. And don't forget online retailers like Amazon, too. Just remember to compare prices to make sure you're saving money on each unit, and stick to items you're actually going to use.
Get Help From Grocery Apps
When buying Super Bowl party food, you can save money with the help of free apps like Ibotta and Checkout 51. "Both of these apps offer discounts on certain products at grocery stores," says Marc Andre, personal finance blogger at VitalDollar.com. "Some of the offers (especially with Ibotta) will allow you to buy multiples of the same product and get the discount on each one (the offers will list a quantity limit). You can even stack these offers with sales and coupons from the grocery store.
"There are always a lot of sales before the Super Bowl, so if you're able to stack a few of these offers, you could save quite a bit," he adds.
Check out Basket, too. This app allows you to punch in your entire grocery list, then comparison shop online stores and those in your area to see where you can get your items for the lowest price possible.
Capitalize on Cash Back Rewards
Several credit cards offer a generous cash back reward rate when it comes to buying groceries. Plus, many are available with no annual fee. "This means that, so long as you pay off your statement balance in full before each due date, you're paying less than the full price on your favorite Super Bowl foods," says Sean Messier, a credit industry analyst with Credit Card Insider.
Don't wait until the last minute to figure out your menu. If you plan ahead of time, that will help slash the likelihood of impulse buys, and you'll be better able to take advantage of sales, saving by ordering online, and coupons.
Be Creative With Seating
Everybody has to have a place to sit. But if you don't think you have enough seating, that doesn't mean you have to go out and buy a bunch of chairs. "Make like your kids again and toss a bunch of blankets and pillows in the space between the TV and couch. ... Otherwise, ask your neighbors to borrow some dining chairs and invite them over," recommends Kristen Han, a certified financial planner with Millennial Estates Financial Group.
Have Guests Pitch In
There's no shame in asking folks to bring something to the game, be it alcohol, dessert, or another item. Or do as Han suggests: "With Venmo, PayPal, or cash, have everyone chip in $5 or $10. You're letting them into your home, feeding them, and providing them with entertainment."
It's not a bad idea to ask a friend to co-host. You two can split the costs. And the two of you might have more resources so you don't need to find additional chairs, for example.
Serve Party-Cut Pizza
Pizza is an easy crowd pleaser that isn't too expensive or tricky to make. If you want to stretch your dollar even further, buy deli pizzas from Sam's Club or Costco. Then instead of cutting them in traditional triangle-shaped pieces, "party cut" them into small rectangles instead. If you order pizza, you can ask them to cut it in this manner, too, says Cherie Lowe, author of Slaying the Debt Dragon.
Be Strategic With Buffet Food
If you're going to set up a buffet, plan out where each type of food will go. "After years of funeral dinners and church pitch-ins, I learned an essential law of the universe. What you place at the beginning of the buffet line always disappears first," Lowe says. "So place more affordable (and healthier!) snacks at the front, saving higher-priced items until the end. You won't run out of the items that are in limited quantity."
Skip the Premade Party Trays
While the cheese, meat, fruit, and veggie trays your grocery store sells may look like a great deal, you could pay up to twice the price for the items placed on the tray, compared to making your own. And many times, some of the foods on them are outside of your family's taste preferences and will get tossed anyway. "Make your own trays and save the money," Lowe says. "It really doesn't save you that much time either."
Keep the Menu Simple
Don't feel like you have to prepare a full meal for your guests. "If you want to cook, stick to budget-friendly finger foods, snacks, appetizers instead of a full meal," Nathaniel says. "I prefer dips, meatballs, or a soup."
Caterer Andrea Correale, founder and CEO of Elegant Affairs, says to stay away from expensive chips and instead, serve homemade popcorn. "You can also break out the grill and make hot dogs with all the fixings. Make the hot dog bar your main dish."
Create a Budget
By all means, set a budget. If you don't have a firm idea of how much you plan to spend, you're much more likely to have regrets after the game.
Readers, how have you saved money when throwing Super Bowl parties — or parties in general? Share your tips in the comments below!