How to Throw a Super Bowl Party on a Budget

Here's how to throw a Super Bowl party with food on a budget.

I don’t know how Super Bowl Sunday got to be one of the biggest parties of the year, but I’m glad it’s almost here. Even if I have no interest in any of the teams participating, I find any excuse to get together with friends to be a good one.

Hosting a Super Bowl party can be a lot of fun, but if you’re not careful, you could end up spending way more than you expected. Between the delicious appetizers and frothy adult beverages, it’s easy to get carried away and put your budget in a bind for the rest of the month. (You can keep tabs on your spending and debt levels by viewing your free credit report card, with updates every 14 days, on

Here are a few suggestions on how you can host a Super Bowl party on a budget.

1. Start With a Budget

How much do you want to spend on the Super Bowl party? If you want to stick to a budget, you need to know how large it’ll be. The party you throw when you have $5,000 to spend is different than the one you throw when you’re looking to keep it to under $100. Once you’ve established your budget, you can start employing some of the strategies below to keep your spending within limits.

2. Limit the Guest List

Much like a wedding, keeping costs low while having a great time involves getting the right people together. Parties are fun because of the people. The more people you invite, the more expensive the party will be, and the longer the cleanup afterward. Fortunately, a Super Bowl party isn’t a personal marquee event like a wedding, where people may feel slighted if they aren’t invited. Feel free to keep the group small if you need to.

3. Potluck Meals & Appetizers

Food is one of the biggest expenses of any party, and a Super Bowl party is no different. The easiest way to reduce that expense is to host it potluck-style — that is, have each of your guests contribute a dish to the party. We use a Google Doc to coordinate who brings what so we don’t end up with eight bowls of crab dip.

If you want to make a signature “meal” while leaving the appetizers to your guests, you can always go with something like a stew or a chili. Stews and chilis are typically easy to prepare, relatively cheap, very filling, and delicious. You can buy meat in bulk from a wholesale club like Costco, and with so many people coming over, you won’t be stuck with a ton of leftovers. Bonus points if you prepare it in a slow cooker so you can leave it alone during the party.

As back up, we also pick up a few frozen pizzas. If you are afraid you’re going to run out of food, it’s probably going to happen late in the game. At that point, anyone who is hungry will happily welcome a slice of fresh oven-baked pizza.


For adult beverages, have your guests bring their own. If you’re hosting and responsible for coordinating the party and cleaning up afterwards, the least a guest can do besides bring a snack is bring their own beverages. It’s unlikely anyone will balk at this.

The party will likely go for about four to five hours, and if everyone shows up with at least a six- or 12-pack, and no one gets too rowdy, you won’t need much more to keep the party going. As the host, you might want to supplement with your own supply just in case, but you know your friends best.

Alternatively, you can always make a delicious punch. It can be simple, like some champagne and fruit juice (think citrus) that your guests mix on their own. Or you can get more elaborate and look up some boozy punch drinks on sites like Pinterest.

5. Skip Decorations

You might be tempted to go out and buy Super Bowl decorations because they exist, but don’t. It’s a waste, and you’re better off spending that money on food or drinks.

Instead, focus on what might increase excitement in the game. For instance, you can coordinate a game of Super Bowl squares. It’ll turn people with zero interest in the outcome of the game into raving fans. Super Bowl squares is simply a 10×10 grid where each person picks a square. You put the numbers at the top and side of the square, and they correspond to the score after the first, second, third, and fourth quarters. You can have each contestant contribute to a pool prize or just do it for fun.

5. Remember Seating!

One last thought: If you’re hosting a lot of guests, chances are you won’t have enough seating. Ask some of your guests to bring folding chairs. Not everyone will be seated at all times, so you won’t need as many chairs as people, but it helps to have a few extra just in case.

Remember, a Super Bowl party can be fun without being expensive if you’re smart about it. Just try to keep your budget in mind.

Image: dszc

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Going Broke Because Your Kid Plays Travel Soccer (or Some Other Absurdly Expensive Activity)? Here’s How to Save


Getting your kids involved in extracurricular activities helps them both socially and physically. It teaches them the importance of teamwork and discipline. They have an opportunity to develop skills and learn self-confidence.

While these are great for kids and often activities parents encourage, they can be a bit taxing on the wallet. There are ways to save money on both fees and even equipment and items needed for participation.

Saving Money on Fees

Join School Activities  

Many times, the events sponsored by the school have little-to-no fees at all. These are a great way to get to know kids in the school, with whom children may not have other classes.

Register Early

The saying goes “The early bird gets the worm.” So is the case if you get your child registered early. Many programs offer a discount of upwards of 30% if you sign up early.

Check Out Community Centers/City Groups

Were we live, there is a parks and recreation department. This group puts together classes and sports teams. The idea is not to compete to win, but rather, to teach and educate kids on the principals of the game. It also allows kids to explore ideas and showcase talents they may not have a chance to use otherwise. The cost to join is often less than high-end or competitive leagues and is the perfect way to introduce your child to something new.


If you know dance, you might be able to volunteer to help out at your daughter’s dance class in return for reduced lesson fees. You might even find a way to help them advertise for free, help with the front desk or other ways to get a discount on lessons for your child.

Try it First

Before you commit to a contract, check to see if your child can try a class or two first. Once you and your child get a feel for the class and the instructors, you will feel better about making the financial commitment.

Saving Money on Equipment

Check Out Second-Hand Stores

If you need to purchase any type of sporting equipment, stores such as Play It Again Sports, are the perfect way to save money.  Since kids tend to lose interest fast, this allows you a way to afford the purchase, without too much investment. In addition, you can turn around and sell items your child no longer uses.

Ask a Friend or Family Member

Check around with other friends and neighbors who may have children who have played the same sport. They might find the ballet slippers are sitting at the bottom of their daughter’s closet and might just give them to you.

My daughter wanted to learn to play the fiddle, and so we were able to get my aunt’s sent to us and just paid to get it restrung (and for a new bow).

Check Online Marketplaces or Auction Sites

You can find just about any type of equipment needed for any sport or activity on online auction or classifieds sites. From baseball bats to tap shoes, you can often find what you need at a discount. When you are done, you can also use these same sites to sell your own items.

Rent Items

Don’t necessarily rush out and purchase a brand new instrument for your child’s band lessons. Look to rent one for a few months to ensure it is something your child really wants to do.

Getting your child involved in extracurricular activities is a way to help them grow and develop skills they will need later in life. However, don’t allow yourself to get so caught up that you end up spending more than your budget allows. By taking a frugal approach, you’re teaching them good money habits.

[Editor’s Note: You can see how your debt levels are affecting your credit by using’s free credit report card, and by pulling your free annual credit reports each year at]

Image: majorosl

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