Plan a Super Bowl (or Sports) Bash without Going Broke!?

The tree is down. The halls are undecked. The presents put away. The bills have arrived… ugh. Thought you were in for a lazy January? Before you decompress completely, remember that football season kept truckin’ on through the holiday festivities, and the Super Bowl is just ONE MONTH away!

We know – you’re exhausted. Us, too. But you’ll get your mojo back in 4 weeks, just in time to gear up to cheer your favorite team to victory in style. But back to the bills: Can you really afford to do a Super Bowl party this year and risk piling more on to your holiday debt?

Before you rule it out, here are a few ideas for throwing a super cool party without breaking the bank. First, can you coerce your best friend into having the party? Done! (Skip to item #2, below.)

If not, here’s a great start to hosting one at your home, without spending a fortune.

1. Start with the TV—Is your current TV up to the task of hosting the most visually engaging and most-watched show on the planet? No pressure there, right? You might ask yourself: “Should I buy a new TV right before the Super Bowl?” There goes your budget. You might want to go for it if you find a great deal AND you were planning to purchase one anyway.

According to Consumer Reports, a window for snaring great deals starts a few weeks before the Super Bowl and runs through March. During this time, average TV prices rise as new models enter the market, but prices on the preceding year’s TVs hit their low point as retailers work to clear out old inventory and create shelf space for new arrivals. That makes this the second-best time of the year to score a deal on a television, right after Black Friday. However, while retailers tend to hawk subpar no-name brands before the holidays, Super Bowl sales are all about quality, favoring brand-name large-screen sets that are ideal for game-day parties. No matter how you look at it, it’s a great time of year to buy.

If a new TV is not in your budget, consider a cheaper, temporary option: Rent a big screen TV for game day. Many rental centers offer much more than power tools or lawn equipment. Rent-A-Center is one of several national chains that offer a number of high-definition TVs for reasonable weekly rates. There’s a minimum time you’ll need to rent it for (usually a week), and you should expect to shell out about $130 for a top-end, big-screen 4K model. Check around for the best deal near you.

2. Next Up: Food—Who doesn’t love Super Bowl food? Even if you’re not into the game, the next best thing after the funny commercials is the spread. You can take care of it all yourself, but another option is a potluck party—where everyone brings a dish to share. If everyone brings individual snacks (chips and salsa, side dish, veggie tray, dessert) this will help cut down on your costs. (Your guests will likely be thrilled to bring something because they are elated that it’s not their turn to host.) You can make some main dishes, like a pot of chili or wings, and have others bring the sides. Here are a few links to recipes to get you started: buffalo wings, taco dip, jalapeño dip, pigs in a blanket, and pizza ring.

If you want to avoid the hassle of making food or asking guests to bring a dish, you have other options. Popular Super Bowl takeout foods include pizza, subs, or chicken wings. Say you plan on having 10 people over for the game. If you ordered five large pizzas (50 slices), that’s enough for five slices per person. At approximately $10 per pizza, you’re only looking at $50. Throw in some small side snacks, and you can cover the food with $70.

Additional recipes may be found here:

14 Cheap and Easy Super Bowl Recipes for Game Day

8 Slow-Cooker Apps to Bring to Every Party

3. Paper Products & Decorations—Save money by using real plates and glasses. Or, buy some paper products at your grocery store, or even at the dollar store. Keep decorations simple to save money – some football items from the local party or dollar store plus some crepe paper streamers in team colors. Again, guests are coming to watch the game and eat. Less is more in the decorations category.

4. Beverages—If you’re on a tight budget, this is where you implement BYOB when it comes to alcohol. If you’re providing the venue and the food, is it really asking all that much for your guests to bring their beverage of choice? You could provide sodas and bottled water, or even pitchers of tea and lemonade, but anything else is the responsibility of your guests. Beer aficionados will be ok with bringing their favorite brew. Don’t forget the ice! Get a couple of large bags and a large plastic tub and call it a day.

5. Games—You can have a few lined up for the pre-game festivities, or to keep kids entertained while you’re cheering on your team. Consider Super Bowl Trivia, Rate the Super Bowl commercial (numbered signs glued to popsicle sticks), Super Bowl Cook-off (kills two birds with one stone – game PLUS food), and Super Bowl Hot Potato (for the kids). You can also have some paper, colored pencils and markers on hand to have the kids draw or color in the team logos for fun. For more game ideas, click here.

Whatever you do, keep it simple, and don’t be afraid to ask for help from your friends, which will make for an awesome and memorable party – one that doesn’t break the bank.

Resources: Consumer Reports, Quicken Loans, GenX Finance.com, Realtor.com