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Throw the ultimate affordable Super Bowl party

Like a professional quarterback’s salary, throwing a Super Bowl party can be expensive. So how can you be sure—affordably—that your party is the one everybody will be talking about at work the next day? With these tips for some fun party perks that everyone will remember long after the play clock winds down.

Don’t break the bank on party supplies—The dollar store is your best friend when it comes to decorations and serving dishes. It’s just as much fun (and a lot cheaper) to grab hot wings out of a generic football-shaped dish as one with an officially licensed NFL logo. If you absolutely want those team colors in your decor, check out your local party supply store for paper plates, bowls, cups and tablecloths in solid colors.

Make it fun for non-football fans, too—We know it’s heresy, but it’s possible some of your guests might not care as much about the game as the rest of you. Consider setting aside a corner of your party space for games (video or board) or setting up a small TV or computer to watch other things between commercials.

Have a few fun games ready to go—Before the game starts, show your team spirit by seeing who can create the most die-hard fan costume using face painting supplies, crepe paper, spray-on hair dye and anything else you might have on hand. Your guests can vote on the best costume. And when things slow down during the game, re-energize the party by breaking out Super Bowl commercial bingo (you can find free printable cards online) or team/city trivia matches. Pick up some fun, inexpensive prizes on your trip to the dollar or party store to hand out to the winners.

Work up a game plan for food and drinks—A potluck and bring your own beverage party can help defray costs and can give you a wider assortment of goodies to offer. You can supply the ice, water and soft drinks, while guests bring their own beverage of choice. Pizza and wings might be a good option, too; many places offer great Super Bowl deals. Crockpot food like sloppy joes, meatballs or little smoked sausages can be inexpensive and easy. Oh, and don’t forget a few healthier options for guests who need them.

Create inexpensive swag bags—Just like on the Hollywood red carpet, send your guests home with some affordable but fun swag: Gift bags filled with candy, cookies, nuts (check for allergies first!), football-themed tchotchkes, a small bottle of water or Gatorade—even a small tin of pain relievers for the inevitable first few rough hours of Monday morning.

Two final tips: First, while it’s fun to cheer with a crowd, make it comfortable (and possibly healthier) for your guests by not over-inviting for the size of your home. Even if February wasn’t smack in the middle of cold and flu season, it’s no fun tripping over your friends’ feet with a full plate of chips and salsa in your hand.

Second—and most important—keep an eye on your guests so you can be sure that anyone who’s over-imbibed makes it safely home, whether you need to ask someone to give them a ride or call an Uber. In fact, why not take a cue from stadiums nationwide and suggest guests switch to water for the final quarter of the game?

Keep things safe and healthy so you and your favorite party guests will all be back at the same time next year for another fun Super Bowl celebration. Touchdown!