You may not know the difference between Peyton Manning and Tom Brady (hint: one of them will be watching the Super Bowl from their couch just like you), but you know the Super Bowl is Sunday, Feb. 7. Essentially a national holiday, Super Bowl Sunday brings people together and this year they’re all coming to your house. Before you start sweating thinking about everything you need to get together (food, seating, booze, plates, more food, more booze), take a breather.
Celebrity caterer and CEO of Elegant Affairs Andrea Correale who’s coordinated events for some of Hollywood’s biggest A-list stars including Mariah Carey, Russell Simmons, Kevin Spacey, Billy Joel and Jimmy Fallon, helped us come up with your game plan for throwing a legendary Super Bowl Party.
Keep the Crowd Small
Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, where Super Bowl 50 will be played, can hold up to 75,000 people. Your living room cannot. Keep this in mind when deciding how many people to invite. “You want to make sure that everyone that is invited will be able to see the game, so the amount of people you invite should dictate the amount of televisions that you have and the seating,” Correale said.
Choose a Start Time
Kickoff is at 6pm, so Correale suggested a 4pm start time for your party. “Everyone knows that whatever time you tell people to come, they’ll always come within a half hour to an hour late,” she said. “The majority of the people will get there around five so that gives you a good hour, hour and a half of people mixing and mingling before the game starts.”
Get your guests amped days in advance by going old-fashioned with a written invite. “Everything is so tech-driven that when you get a written letter or something that’s tangible it’s the first impression of the party and I think it adds something to it, it makes it a little more special.” To put a fun twist on it, Correale recommended getting a junior-sized football and writing the information on it in Sharpie and giving it to guests.
Set the Stage
Make your home look like a football wonderland. “You can really work off the colors of the team, so looking off the uniforms, you can come up with a color palette and go all out with the table cloth, plates, napkins and cups.” (For those who don’t know, Denver’s colors are orange, navy blue and white and Carolina’s are blue, black, silver and white.) Add a festive touch to your buffet table by using a sheet of green Astroturf as a tablecloth. You can get them at Home Depot. “Home Depot also sells entire sheets of blackboard. I will cover an entire table with the blackboard, lay down all the items and then with chalk write ‘chicken quesadillas’ and have an arrow pointing to the platter.”
A Winning Seating Strategy
When it comes to laying out your living room or den, “it’s all about comfort and viewing,” Correale said. Put as many TVs in the room as possible. “If you have a cable wire that’s in a bedroom upstairs, it’s really easy to extend the wire and bring a television downstairs.” You can even create a separate viewing area around an additional TV by putting comfy seats around it. Clear out small cocktail tables, standing lamps and anything else that gets in the way. Put food on a table where people are going to mix and mingle, and let them graze and replenish rather than dashing between the fridge and the kitchen so you can enjoy the party too.
Manage the Clock
With only a couple days until the big game, you may find yourself scrambling to get everything together. Potlucks can take some of the load off you, but make sure there’s some organization otherwise you’ll have people bringing 30 bags of chips or, worse yet, 50 trays of foods that need to be heated in one of your two ovens. “Ask people to bring food that is room temperature or desserts, things that don’t really need to go in the oven so that when they come, they can simply take off the wrapper and put it out.” To prevent duplicates, make a list of what you need and have people sign up. Another timesaving tip: buy alcohol days in advance and stash in your garage, which might as well be a fridge this time of year.
Super Bowl Sunday is all about comfort foods like wings, fries and chips, but you’re not just throwing any old party. Take those classics and make them special. “Think outside the box and take some of the classic traditions and make them your own.” Instead of serving that six-foot hero everyone’s had for the last two decades, Correale loves the idea of going to the bakery and picking up some homemade bread, using basil sauce instead of mustard and mayo and stuffing with grilled chicken and four or five types of mushrooms. Wing bars with five different types of wings and a meatball bar with traditional, blackberry Pan-Asian and buffalo chicken meatballs are other ways to win over the hungry crowd. Also, keep in mind that some guests may still be on the New Year’s Resolution wagon. “Have some healthier, cleaner options.” Think grilled chicken wings, basked sweet potato fries and a salad bar with chopped veggies, protein and dressings. “People can make a meal out of it or make it a side dish to the other staples.”
“You absolutely want to have all the basics but I like to keep with traditions and give it a little twist.” Create a winter beer garden with the classics plus lagers, stouts and porters. “Make a sign with the featured beers that you have, and put a cooler out and have some frozen or frosted mugs next to it. Or, instead of breaking the bank and having a fully-stocked bar, you can easily take the teams that are playing and make signature cocktails that you can put in punch bowls that are named after the teams.” Match the signature drink colors to the uniforms of the Panthers and Broncos or find a drink created in the state and serve it.