Having a horde of hungry football fans to your house this Sunday? Some 62 million people are hoping to go to a Super Bowl party this year, according to the National Retail Federation. And that can cause welcoming friends like you to spend a small fortune hosting.
Officials at bargain-hunting web site BeFrugal.com estimate that a Super Bowl host with an "average" group of 17 could spend well over $500 on pizza, wings and beer. But don't fret if that's more than you budgeted for game day. There are ways to host a party on a pittance -- without even appearing cheap.
Create a game plan, suggests Kendal Perez, a blogger with HasselFreeSavings.com. That requires assembling a guest list and contemplating whether any of your party-goers have dietary restrictions or will be bringing children or pets.
The size and scope of the party will help determine whether you should use your own plates, glasses and utensils or buy disposables. Naturally, it's cheaper to use what you've got, but not if you risk breakage or spills on your clean carpets. If you need disposables, consider shopping at a discount store like Party City or Costco, where you're likely to get everything you need for less than $20.
Collect coupons for discounts on pizza and wings, suggests Jon Lal, founder of BeFrugal. These are far and away the most popular snacks on game day and could cost a party host as much as $130, if purchased retail. But BeFrugal has already amassed dozens of discount codes for cut-rate deals from the likes of Pizza Hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Papa Johns. Domino's also has a discount deal for people who sign up for web alerts. If you're going to order out, order smart with a coupon.
Cook. Okay, unless you're Bobby Flay, you may not want to spend your game day futzing around in the kitchen, but there are cook-ahead menus that can feed hordes of people for a relatively small amount. Think chili, for instance. With some ground beef, beans, tomatoes and spices, you can put a pot on the stove for less than $1 per person. Better yet, it's easy to freeze if you make too much.
Budget Byte's author Beth Moncel offers dozens of meat and pasta options on her blog, including a taco soup that only takes 30 minutes to make and a tomato and spinach pasta that costs less than $1 a serving.
Delegate. Another way to save on food is to make the party a pot luck. However, the biggest expense for a Super Bowl gathering is typically the beer, says Lal. So, instead of springing for the keg, contemplate making sharing fun by, perhaps, asking each guest to bring their favorite craft beer.
Designate. If your friends are likely to drink too much, pre-plan how they'll get home. Your savings on the Super Bowl bash will evaporate quickly if you end up serving half the party breakfast. Get your guests to consider designated drivers or start pushing water an hour or two before the party's over to make sure everyone gets home safe.