Saving Money / Entertainment
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The Cincinnati Bengals last played the Super Bowl a generation ago – 1989. Without a doubt, their faithful are ready to throw some of the biggest parties Queen City has seen in a long time.
You don’t have to be a fan of the Bengals or the Los Angeles Rams — their Super Bowl LVI opponent on Feb. 13 — to invite friends over to watch the big game with you. But how to organize a winning evening with a limited budget? The same way players and coaches will prepare for the game: with preparation and teamwork.
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As the day of the game approaches, send your invitations as soon as possible. You’ve probably already sent a verbal invitation or texted family and friends, but followed up with a festive (and free!) email invitation.
Greg Jenkins, partner at Bravo Productions in Long Beach, Calif., and seasoned event planner, suggested doing a quick search online to find graphics, such as Rams and Bengals helmets or their team logos. , to brighten up your invitations.
Before sending your invitation, finalize your message. Let your guests know, for example, that they must wear the colors of the team they want to win, a jersey or other NFL clothing.
It’s also acceptable to ask your guests to bring food or other necessities to keep costs down. Jenkins recommended setting a budget to figure out what you can provide and what you’ll need help with.
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When you email your invitation, add a link to a spreadsheet that lists what you want invitees to contribute so they can register.
“Don’t tackle the whole deal on your own — host a potluck instead,” said Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst at DealNews.com. “Have an informal check-in with all your guests and let them note if they are bringing drinks, desserts, snacks or anything else to have during the party. Don’t forget other supplies, too – ice, plates, cups, napkins and cutlery can also be provided by you or your guests.
Also consider asking your guests to provide their own alcohol.
“Drinks can get really expensive for a party, especially if you’re providing alcoholic beverages,” Ramhold said. “Rather than stocking up on booze and beer, consider asking your guests about BYOB; this way they can bring their own favorite drink, which means they’ll have something they know they’ll enjoy and potentially introduce you and your other guests to something new.
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You don’t need to make a major investment to add a festive flair to your party or table, Jenkins said. Start by printing some Bengals or Rams action photos.
“Put those photos in thrift-store frames and display them on your bar,” Jenkins said. “Decorate the catering table and bar with team pennants, mini helmets and banners in each team’s colors — orange/black (Bengals) and royal blue/yellow (Rams). Any party supply store such as Party City will have these items. Team colored balloons will add to the atmosphere.
And don’t forget the party table, which you can turn into a miniature football field.
“Decorate banquet tables 6-8 feet long with a piece of green AstroTurf and use white tape to create football field markings. The AstroTurf serves as the party linen,” Jenkins said. “You can make goal posts out of cheap PVC pipe and put each team’s logos” in what would be the end zone.
If you have a garage, use it for the tailgate before the game, just like you would in a stadium parking lot.
“Guests can arrive early, eat snacks and chat before the game starts,” Jenkins said. “It’s a prelude to the match. If you have a van or van, use it to serve a keg of beer. Put some music (fanfare) in the background and the excitement is already created.
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When the game begins, your guests will be ready to fill their plates. And you don’t have to spend a bundle to keep them full and happy.
“It can be tempting to go overboard for the holidays, but one way to cut costs is to streamline your menu,” Ramhold said. “Pick a few starters, maybe burgers or hot dogs for main, with a side or two, then a simple dessert like cookies or brownies. Make sure most (if not all) of the items can be prepared ahead of time, so you can get ready a few days before the party itself and relax on the day.
And then there are the snacks.
“You can have the fries, dip, and guacamole, but also consider buying individual bags of peanuts, popcorn, and pretzels that guests can easily help themselves to,” Jenkins said. “You can find these inexpensive items in large quantities at Costco or Smart & Final.”
Ramhold said promotions could abound as the game approaches.
“Watch for traditional Super Bowl snacks on sale, such as chips, dips — both ready-made and ingredients to make your own — and wing sauce,” she said. “Stores like Target will be a good place to look for notable deals, but don’t forget Amazon. Last year, they cut 20% off snacks for the big game and even included things like energy drinks and granola bars.
“If you use grocery delivery services, be sure to watch for deals from them as well. You can find something like 35% off select brands of chips and dips.
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Ramhold had another recommendation for saving money on game day food.
“Consider signing up for ibotta, especially if you’ve never used it,” she said. “For new users, they can purchase select snacks and receive 100% cash back. Different snacks include things like Red Baron Pizza, Bubly Water, Mission Tortilla Chips, Kraft Shredded Cheese, Litehouse Dip and Spread and Nestle Toll House Cookie Dough.
“If you are not a new user, you can also benefit from it. All you need to do is refer a friend and get them involved. The offer is available nationwide while supplies last at stores like Target, Costco and others.
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