Kick off your Super Bowl party in style

Friday, January 25, 2013 - 9:47pm

(CNN) -- Are you ready for some football?

You may not be as ready as you think if you're planning to have folks over to watch the Baltimore Ravens face off against the San Francisco 49ers in New Orleans on February 3.

All any Super Bowl party needs is a television, chips and dip and a cooler full of brewskies, right? Well, don't start Kaepernicking in victory quite yet.

While event planning professionals agree those are key ingredients, they say that trinity is not necessarily all it takes to throw a party worthy of a touchdown dance.

Just ask Bill Furtkevic and Stephen Pino from Party City. Aside from a big screen for the big game and a table with food and drink, they offered a slew of other essential components for stylish Super Bowl soirée.

Eye-catching decor, a unique menu, custom entertainment, wearable favors and fun invitations can make your party stand out from the standard last NFL season hurrah, Pino said.

The Super Bowl is the second-largest food consumption holiday of the year, according to the USDA, behind Thanksgiving and ahead of Christmas Day.

Stadiums sculpted out of meat products or complicated dishes that won't be savored during a gripping game might not give hosts the bang for their buck that they're hoping for. The Food Network's Sandra Lee, known as much for her tablescapes as for her creative use of packaged food, advises, "think 'do-able,' and take smart and simple shortcuts when possible."

Although team loyalty can divide a party, a welcoming buffet spread can unite it. Use what you have at hand to present the burgers, hot dogs, chips and dip in a creative way, said Atlanta party planner April Trigg, founder of Eventologie.

"Go get your kids' footballs and put them on the table," Trigg said. "Anything like that that you already have in your house, why not put it on your buffet tables? You've got instant party."

Natural turf is another easily accessible accessory. Go outside and dig up some grass to decorate your Super Bowl tabletop, Trigg recommends.

The food, too, can be great décor. Trigg offers guests guacamole served in avocado halves, reminiscent of the shape of a football.

Lee said she takes at least two weeks to plan casual gatherings in order to give herself enough time to shop for the best decorations and centerpieces.

Her party supplies for a Super Bowl shindig might include team color tablecloths, pom-poms, cheer sticks, craft paper and Astro Turf, she wrote in an e-mail.

Trigg and Lee agree that, aside from great decorations, hosts should consider who's coming to the party and how they might commune. Lee calls this the "energy of the room."

To keep the party exciting, Trigg plans games for kids (such as a best team cheer contest) and competitive BBQ throwdowns for the adults.

Pino suggests turning the big game into a party game. Provide guests with penalty flags to throw during the famously high-concept commercials. "Bad commercial! Bad commercial!" he shouted with glee.

Not everyone will be glued to the tube or the grill the entire time, Trigg said. She makes sure to provide multiple areas for guests to mingle.

"The Super Bowl is more than just football," Lee wrote. "It's a fun celebration, and everyone can appreciate that."

"At the end of the day, it might not be your favorite team in that last final game, but it's more about bringing your friends and family together, honoring that tradition," said Trigg, whose Atlanta Falcons just missed out on a trip to the big game New Orleans this year.

"Guests come to the party to watch the game AND see the host," Lee wrote. To that end, hosts should dress the part. A team-colored feather boa or tutu helps make Super Bowl party photos truly memorable, Furkavic said. Party City also stocks photo booth kits for the Instagram crowd.

If you're not interested in buying a bunch of themed favors and prefer to have your party leave a small environmental footprint, that's possible, too.

Trigg, who plans small gatherings as well as big blowouts, finds ways to make her events environmentally sustainable. She reuses materials as much as she can when planning and decorating, and uses compostable paper plates and cups at her parties, as well as recyclable cutlery.

No matter what kind of Super Bowl party you choose to throw, a quick glance at one's homeowner insurance policy is another smart step in the party planning process.

Wait, what? It's just a Super Bowl party, right?

And yet, according to the American Bar Association, if a guest gets food poisoning, is injured at your home or drives drunk after a party, the host could get sued.

It's important for hosts to plan for the unexpected.

"I'm a big proponent of safety," Trigg said. She's a fan of the car service Uber -- which can pick you up based on your smartphone's GPS -- for those over-imbibing. "I like to have it be part of the game, have people drop their keys right away," she said.

Especially, if, like Trigg, you tend to hold cocktail contests.

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