The big game is almost here; are you ready for some hosting? Plan your menu and every move with your own Super Bowl playbook. The party will go more smoothly when you have a plan and enlist the help of your team (read: family and friends). Like any good quarterback, be prepared to go in with a game plan, but don’t be afraid to change it up as the situation dictates. Consider this your flexible starting playbook for navigating your way down the hostessing field.
One Week Before the Super Bowl
Finalize your menu and what your guests are bringing (besides their cheering voices). Use the weekly grocery circular to find deals on meats, snacks, frozen snacks and produce.
Mix up the batter or dough for your baked goods and freeze it in an air-tight container.
Cook any dishes that can be easily and safely frozen and reheated. Make your own homemade meatballs using fresh not frozen meat.
36 to 24 Hours Until the Super Bowl
Double check everything, recount the number of guests you’re expecting and make a list of any last minute or extra items you need from the grocery store. Don’t wait until the day of the party, instead go two to three days before the big game. You’ll be less stressed and you’ll run into less of a crowd at the store.
Buy your fruits, vegetables and deli meats at most two to three days before the party. The deli will be swamped if you wait until Super Bowl Sunday, and if you buy a pre-made platter you’ll get less meat for your buck.
The Day Before
Bake your chocolate chip cookies, brownies or cupcakes one day before the party. For easy storing, don’t frost any baked goods until the day of the party, when you’re ready to set them out for guests.
The Night Before
Prepare any sour cream or yogurt-based dips with your favorite seasonings. The flavors will be stronger. Store the dip in the same container and label it.
Parboil your chicken wings, removing the tips. Cook them with celery, onions and spices. Marinade them with your favorite hot sauce recipe or infuse them with citrus and vodka flavors. Refrigerate them overnight.
8 Hours Until the Super Bowl
Prepare your crock pot dishes and let them cook. Homemade meatballs, chilis and ribs need to cook for a good 8 hours.
5 Hours Until the Super Bowl
Chill any wines you have if they are not already in the refrigerator. When chilling wine outside, check it frequently if the outside temperature is nearing 15 degrees. You could always wrap it in a blanket.
Set up your drink or bar station, which should include plenty of water, sugar-free, alcohol-free an caffeine-free options in addition to your alcohol-based beverages. If you’re having a BYOB party, supply the standard mixers including orange juice, cola, ginger ale and seltzer water.
2 Hours Before
Wash, rinse and dry fruit and vegetables for cold appetizer trays. Slice and dice at will and arrange on platters or plates. Refrigerator cramped? Use dessert plates or salad plates to serve small amounts of vegetables. By serving smaller plates, you can also keep the food fresher longer, simply replace the small empty plates with full ones throughout the pre-game show.
1 Hour Before
Place snack bowls out but don’t open the snacks yet. Wait until five or ten minutes before guests arrive to keep salty snacks tasting fresh.
Serve your salty snacks, vegetables and cold dips and finger sandwiches. Now’s the time to pour on the drinks, rather than later.
The first quarter brings out the warm appetizers for your guests. Serve your wings, roasted vegetables and nachos. Put away any cold dips and vegetables that people aren’t eating.
Set out the bowls, spoons, crock pots and casserole dishes for a hearty half-time meal. This is the best time to serve your stews, chills, macaroni and cheese, rigatoni and sausage, or your infamous ribs. Slice up fresh bread or set out rolls just before half-time, to keep it all fresh.
Third Quarter into the Fourth Quarter
By the fourth quarter, start putting away the hard liquor and closing down the bar. Make a fresh pot of decaf coffee to serve with dessert. Depending on how the game is going, you may want to bump up the fourth quarter desserts to the third quarter. If you’re Super Bowl party has been going since the afternoon pre-game coverage and the game is turning into a blow out, guests may start skipping out before the game ends.
If the game is close and exciting or you guests are already planning their late-to-work phone calls, you can do most of the clean up before serving the dessert. Set out individual servings of your brownies, cookies or chocolate covered strawberries decorated to look like mini footballs, complete with white icing laces. Have plenty of napkins and refresh the stock of bottled water.
One Hour After the Game
Party on if you’re team won! Leave whatever mess is left after the game and get some sleep!