The Lists

How to Throw a Luxurious Super Bowl Party This Year

Super Bowl Sunday is – like Thanksgiving – one of those great American traditions that brings nearly everyone to the same table. Regional, class and political issues tend to fade, at least for one day, in the raucous ritual of watching the game, the ads, and the half-time show. And consuming lots of food and drink.

That led us here at Dandelion Chandelier into a lively discussion about how to make this annual event even more special. We set out to round up the best/most fun/most over-the-top party ideas from our far-flung correspondents. The Sports Desk went into overdrive (many thanks, you guys!) and we’ve got lots of good input to share.

But first, a few fun facts about the event itself. The first Super Bowl was played on January 15, 1967 (the Green Bay Packers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs with a score of 35 to 10). A warm weather location is clearly a priority for the NFL: New Orleans and Miami have hosted the game the most of any other cities, with ten apiece. This year, it’s in Houston’s NRG Stadium; Fox will carry the game.

This year’s match-up is Super Bowl LI (that’s 51). The AFC’s New England Patriots will face off against the NFC’s Atlanta Falcons. This is the 9th time that the Pats will be in the Super Bowl – the most of any team in history. They’re 4-4 in the big game so far. The Falcons have only made it this far once before – in 1998. The Pats are currently favored to win by 3. The Falcons have the league’s highest-scoring offense and the Pats have the league’s top defense (the belief is that in a big game, “defense trumps offense;” we’ll see if that holds true). Pats QB Tom Brady will take on Atlanta QB Matt Ryan. The over/under as of this posting is 59 points – the highest in Super Bowl history. Meaning Vegas expects a high-scoring game. Epic.

According to Statista, last year for Super Bowl 50, American consumers spent $15.5 billion related to the game – that’s up from $8.7 billion in 2007. Super Bowl 50 was watched by more than 112 million viewers in the US (that’s been a stable number for the past five years). The average cost for a 30-second ad last year was close to $5 million. Anheuser-Busch InBev, Fiat Chrysler and Pepsi were the largest advertisers in last year’s game.

Super Bowl parties are a big part of the day for almost half of all Americans. A survey in 2016 reported that almost 18% of respondents were planning to host a party, and 29% were planning to attend one (only 4% reported that their plan was to watch at a bar). Those party numbers have been steadily increasing for the past four years – apparently, we’re becoming more sociable as a nation. Interestingly, only 30% of people surveyed last year said that they went to a party to see the game itself. 45% were there to be with friends and family, and 12% were there to see the ads. That has some interesting implications for the host.

So if you’re in the partying half of the crowd, what’s the best way to throw down luxury-style? Should you be trying to replicate a great tailgate party? Or the owner’s box? Or something in-between? Here’s what our luxury-class experts had to say:

Have lots of food. The consensus on the Sports Desk is that it’s essential to have ample nachos and various dips and toppings (salsa, onion, cheese, bean and guacamole); Buffalo wings; maybe a big hero sandwich; and pulled pork or barbequed brisket sandwiches. You could also lay out some crudité, in case anyone is actually trying to eat healthy. A couple of people voted for a chili bar (the nacho toppings could do double-duty there).

The foodies in the crowd opt for gourmet comfort food: bison and ostrich burgers; surf and turf (lobster tails and filet mignon); gruyere mac and cheese; Nieman Ranch hot dogs; and organic nachos. ‘Cause that’s how they roll. The uber-rich often bring in a caterer, and have wait staff properly attired to pass hors d’oeuvres and refill empty glasses. Some have a carving station, and many have a full bar staffed by a bartender.

One sage member of the Sports Desk advises making the food selections portable, since a Super Bowl party is basically a cocktail party in disguise – most people will be moving about almost constantly (he also noted that the host should expect spills and protect valuable furniture accordingly). There was strong unanimity on dessert: a Super Bowl themed cake or cupcakes with the helmets of the two teams on them are a must. Decorated sugar cookies also get the thumbs up. Although if offered a piece of pie, we don’t think anyone would say no.

Have lots to drink. Even people who don’t regularly drink beer seem to do so on Game Day. The luxury class ups the game by bringing in kegs of craft beer and providing icy-cold mugs freshly frosted from the freezer on demand. If you want to have some fun, you could serve a good Belgian ale from Atlanta (Wild Heaven Craft Beer’s “Ode to Mercy” might suit) and an English-style ale from New England (Mayflower IPA or Hill Farmstead Brewery’s Edward Pale Ale would work well).

Another host suggests serving a signature cocktail for each team. We’re thinking “New Englanders” (Moxie soda, gin, lime and Worcestershire sauce) for the Pats fans, and for the Falcons in the house, “Bitter Southerners #5” (BroVo Amaro Macquarrie, vermouth, sherry, rye whisky and Angostura bitters – we’re told it has the flavors of Atlanta’s own Coca-Cola). A couple of bottles of wine and some good whiskey won’t go unopened. And it would be classy and gracious to end the evening with a champagne toast to the winners.

Note to all hosts: according to Statista, in 2016, 38% of people surveyed said that buffalo chicken wings are the best food for a Super Bowl party. And only 1% said that they were not planning to drink any alcoholic beverages. The people have spoken. Plan accordingly.

Provide more than one television. The Sports Desk is adamant that you need multiple TVs tuned to the game throughout the house so that people can move around. Remember, most are there to socialize, not to actually watch every play. An experienced party host offers this thought: “there is often a gap between fans who want to really watch the game and others who want to nosh and socialize.  They need different zones.” His advice? Designate one TV for the hard-core types who actually do want to watch every play (they want to concentrate, and they can get ornery if people try to talk to them, so it’s best to leave them be). Have another couple of screens where people can casually check in on the game. Aiming to please everyone? You should have a designated TV for the consumer marketing types, so they can watch and critique the advertising in peace.

Create some ice-breakers to make it fun for all. One host has a required rotation of seats for the halftime show so that the guests who don’t actually care that much about the game can fully participate (last year the half-time viewing broke out into a spontaneous dance party in many homes – the Chris Martin-Bruno Mars-Beyoncé group rendition of “Uptown Funk” was basically irresistible). Asking guests to dress in the colors of their favorite team will get people talking to those they don’t know well.

Support some friendly wagering. Lots of people have football pools with friends and family, and there are so many things to bet on (including “prop” bets, like the outcome of the coin toss, the length of the national anthem, and who will score the first touchdown) that anyone can play, even if they know little or nothing about the sport. One friend suggests creating a door prize for the person who gets closest to the final score of the game.

Leverage technology to resolve disputed questions. Our Silicon Valley Bureau Chief weighed in with the view that Amazon’s Alexa or Google Now’s OK Google should be cued up on a device near the TVs to resolve the inevitable statistical disputes. He also keeps a couple of iPads around for the queries that can’t be addressed verbally. Nice way to keep the know-it-alls in check!

The consensus was that a proper Super Bowl party should begin between 3:00P and 4:00P Eastern. Some start as early as 12 noon, with the pre-game show, but most begin in time for some friendly socializing before its go-time. As one member of the Sports Desk put it: “you need time for people to warm up and exchange pleasantries. Be sure to get there early enough to stake out a good seat in front of the TV, in one of the good chairs.”

No one offered any particular guidance for guest etiquette at a Super Bowl party, so we’ll chime in: do offer to bring something; do help clean up; don’t taunt people supporting the opposing team; and under no circumstances should you be a sore loser or a loudmouth winner. Oh, and have a designated driver.

Also, you know we feel strongly that attire is a crucial element of any great party, and a big part of the fun, so put a bit of work into what you’re wearing. Refined casual is the idea here. You never know who you’ll meet, or what might happen. Twenty years ago, my brother-in-law met his future wife at a Super Bowl party. Just sayin’.

We’re already psyched for a fun time this year, and the Sports Desk is buying the beer.  There’s just one cloud on the horizon: the dreaded morning after. You can check out our luxury hangover cures in advance. And you might want to ask for a vacation day on Super Bowl Monday, which will be one of the least productive days in the American workforce all year if recent history is any guide.

A Kronos survey on Super Bowl 50 revealed that 77 percent of American workers planned to watch the game, and 16.5 million said they might not go to work on Super Bowl Monday (10.5 million requested the entire day off in advance, with the rest planning to call in sick). Another 7.5 million said they might show up late. Millennials and their younger siblings were even more slothful than their elders: 20 percent of all employees aged 18-34 (32% if you just look at responses from the men) said they probably weren’t going to work on Super Bowl Monday because of the game.

Bosses of the world, you’ve been warned. Go Pats! See you on Sunday.