Super Bowl Sunday is arguably the United States’ most celebrated holiday of the entire year. People of all persuasions and backgrounds attend parties or tune-in to “the big game,” regardless of how they feel about watching the NFL. Whether it’s the football, the halftime show, the high-priced advertisements, or a combination of the above and the rest of the presentation, there’s something for everyone.
Even the most disinterested viewers spend Super Bowl Sunday – the ultimate celebration of unfiltered, unadulterated capitalism – at parties and BBQs with friends and family.
Of course, the real heroes on Sunday are the brave souls who agree to host Super Bowl get-togethers.
- You’re the ones responsible for feeding the masses and keeping everyone entertained during an event that features maybe 15 total minutes of actual in-game action, sandwiched between hours of commercial blocks bought at a premium by the world’s most powerful corporations.
- If you’re not careful, a once-promising Super Bowl party can quickly devolve into football “fans” — with only the slightest grasp of the sport’s X’s and O’s — regurgitating plagiarized “tactical” talking points from ESPN Radio at each other. With a pinch of “what they should have done is…” sprinkled in for good measure.
- Then you’ll have 3-4 guests who legitimately want the entire room to quiet down for the commercials – and only the commercials. These parties are often promptly taken hostage by people’s annoying kids, which inevitably become the center of attention for the rest of the night.
- In the absence of kids, similarly boring Super Bowl parties rapidly devolve into a group nap – it just depends on the group’s makeup and stage of life. (In my early 30s, most Super Bowl Sundays became second-half food comas; in my later 30’s, the children have taken over.)
You’ve got to give people something to do…but not too much! Overplanning can be as detrimental to Super Bowl party vibes as mindless droning and rambunctious kids.
To avoid spending your day listening to debates over who would have kicked a field goal or gone for it on 4th and 6, or whether Tom Brady is “the greatest QB of all-time” — a conversation that will take place no fewer than 80 million times on Sunday — you must prepare.
Besides an excellent spread of food (the most important ingredient), a great Super Bowl party needs complementary entertainment – side activities peripherally related to the action on the screen, without distracting from the broadcast.
On this page, we’re going to discuss some ideas you can use to host the best Super Bowl party possible.
Betting Makes Everything Better
In a vacuum, football is an exceedingly boring sport.
The problem isn’t the action — while the ball is in play, it’s thrilling; it’s a matter of volume. The rules and strategies create conditions no less intricate than chess. The jobs of every single player on both sides of the ball are influenced by – if not dependent on — all their teammates’ actions.
Mix it all together, and you have a sport with so many moving pieces, — so much variance and uncertainty — it baffles the same analytics gurus who already conquered and tamed the other leagues with their “money ball.”
Those are all positives, though; why would I call football “boring?”
Because, despite its complexities, the ball is still only in motion for approximately 11 minutes total per contest!
NFL broadcasts routinely last for 3-4 hours, and they’re only actually playing for eleven minutes! The rest of the time, they’re setting up for the next down or on the sidelines while broadcasters babble and commercials run.
So, how has football become the most popular sport in the US?
The National Football League owes a substantial chunk of its unrivaled market share to two peripheral enterprises:
- Fantasy Football
- Sports Betting
The TV networks merely follow the ball around the field; broadcasts almost always ignore all the nuances that make football so fascinating.
Forget about being boring; a breather between snaps is welcomed when there’s money (or bragging rights) on the line! Especially in a sport where any play could turn the contest on its head in an instant!
So, if you want to maximize the enjoyment factor of watching the Super Bowl, do what always works:
Introduce betting into the equation!
Fortunately, the Super Bowl is the biggest sports betting weekend of the year. The oddsmakers go completely insane for it, setting odds on every aspect of the whole presentation that they can – including all sorts of weird, otherwise-unrelated factors.
Every year there’s a bet on whether the two Super Bowl teams combined will score more points combined than some star NBA player with a game on Sunday.
Even if you don’t want to bet actual money, the lists of crazy prop bets are perfect for friendly “bragging rights” wagers — or even just conversational pieces.
I mean, – watching the Super Bowl is 100% more thrilling when there’s cash on the line (doubly so if you’re the kind of maniac who bets on the coin toss and length of the National Anthem), but I digress.
Our Detailed Super Bowl Betting Guide
Super Bowl Squares
Super Bowl Squares is the most common form of wagering on the NFL action for party-goers. Excluding March Madness brackets, the grid-based game likely generates more cash than all the top NFL betting websites and sportsbooks combined.
Gatherings full of casual football fans — who’d otherwise never consider visiting real oddsmakers — bet on squares in droves each year. There’s just no record of the action since it’s all being done in private residences amongst friends.
If you’re unfamiliar:
Playing Super Bowl Squares consists of picking boxing on a grid, depending on the numbers assigned to their corresponding columns and rows. A 10 x 10 grid is most common – giving a party 100 squares from which to choose – but much larger versions exist.
Here’s are some excerpts from our latest article all about Super Bowl Squares (including alternative templates and betting options), explaining the basics:
- “Assign one team to the columns and one team to the rows. Each column and row will be labelled 0-9. Each square represents a specific score in the game.”
- “A typical price per square would be $1, for example. As the game is played out, winners are determined after 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and final game scores.”
- “To determine winners of each quarter, take the last number in each team’s score, match them on-grid and see which square intersects the two numbers.”
- “FOR EXAMPLE: If the AFC team’s final score is 36 and the NFC team’s final score is 45, the square with AFC with number 6 and the NFC with number 5 is the winner.”
- “Traditionally, payouts are determined as follows: 20% of the prize pool money is distributed to the winners of the first three quarters and 40% for the ultimate winner of the final score. At the end of the day, there are no hard rules. Players can use other methods the distribute winnings.”
Added excitement and investment in the outcome of the big game for guests?
Simple enough for anyone to play, no knowledge of football or sports handicapping required?
Super Bowl Prop Bets
Super Bowl Squares is a decent appetizer, and it’s always nice having that pot of potential winnings in the back of your mind.
However, for my money, the wealth of Super Bowl proposition betting lines — issued by football betting sites and in-person sportsbooks alike — are the best thing about the whole ordeal.
Some of the annual Super Bowl prop classic are:
- The coin toss.
- Over/Under odds on the length of the National Anthem. (You can also wager on how long the word “brave” alone will be sung. The line is at 6.5 seconds.)
- Halftime show guest appearances and song choices.
- The color of the Gatorade poured on the winning coach’s head.
Those are tame compared to some of the betting lines out there.
- Will either head coach have a dicknose in the 1Q? (Note from MyBookie: “Dicknose” is defined by Urban Dictionary as a “person whose nose is exposed outside the mask he wears.”)
- Will Tom Brady exit the game with a broken hip?
- Will any player wear a MAGA hat on field?
- Who will tweet more during the game? (Options: Brittany Matthews, Gisele Bundchen, and Bridget Moynahan – Tom Brady’s wife and two exes.)
- Will a streaker run on to the field during SB?
- What will take longer: the Super Bowl LV anthem or the Jake Paul v. Ben Askren fight?
- Will Jazmine Sullivan’s outfit show cleavage? (“Yes” is a –220 favorite, so way to go, Jazmine! I don’t know who you are, but it sounds like I will this Sunday!)
And there are hundreds more – thousands if you collect Super Bowl props from a variety of oddsmakers!
For as many bizarre and hilarious novelty bets there are, you’ll find even more proposition markets dealing with the actual gameplay.
Who will score the first TD? Will there be a safety? Who will throw the first interception?
Stuff like that.
As for your little shindig…
Super Bowl betting sites provide printable prop sheets.
I recommend visiting a few online sportsbooks and printing out a few copies of each. Have them readily available around your sitting areas.
If you’re taking the hosting duties to the next level, you can actually offer friends the ability to wager on the props markets. Maybe you already have an online betting account, a tablet for people to use, and a way to work out the money part. The more realistic option is to use the Super Bowl prop sheets to set up bets with friends.
At the very least, the betting odds give you a decent idea of the probabilities of various outcomes occurring on a wide range of topics.
- On the question of whether Gisele will publicly blame a Buccaneers receiver if the team loses, “No” is a –200 (or 2-to-1) favorite.
- Another prop is offering +700 (7-to-1) odds if any player wears a MAGA hat onto the field.
- There are also betting markets covering whether The Weeknd will mention Donald Trump or Joe Biden during his performance.
Engaging, often hilarious, conversation starters that make even the most trivial moments of Super Bowl Sunday worthy of your attention.
What could be better than seeing a streaker on the field and realizing that at that moment, someone somewhere just multiplied their money by 5.5?!
But Seriously…the Food
Look, what will ultimately determine the success of your Super Bowl party is the food. If you aren’t worried about providing a memorable – or even pleasant — experience, pizza, wings, 7-layer dip, and Coors Light is fine.
Honestly, if your group’s primary focus is genuinely the game, not the spectacle of the Super Bowl, there’s no reason to do more than the bare minimum.
Better yet, maybe all you care about is spending time around people you care about and enjoy, and any other aspect of the experience is secondary.
If so, you sound like a very mature human being, and I admire how you balance your priorities.
All of that said, if I’m leaving my house and laying around on someone else’s floor or couch all Sunday, I need there to be a decent spread.
If you’re inviting couples, you can ask invitees to make appetizers and side dishes and do it pot-luck style.
- When each guest has only one responsibility, the likelihood of the contributions being tasty and unique increases significantly.
But if you’re dealing with a younger crowd – especially one mostly consisting of single guys – this tactic won’t work.
- Whatever snacks end up arriving, if any, will be chips, grocery store cookies, and just the lowest-effort items possible. Chips are a Super Bowl staple, but if that’s all I’m working with, I promise I’m dipping out with a “headache” or some other “emergency” around halftime.
I think you need the right mix of homemade and convenient snacks. You don’t need to spend a fortune on catering or spend all week preparing to cook everything yourself.
- If you’re going with pizza for the main course, pick up some meats and cheeses and a few items that require cooking (or at least heating in the oven).
- If you’re making something like barbeque for your company, you can get away with neglecting the snacks more.
A Very COVID Super Bowl Party
It occurs to me that I’ve neglected to consider the coronavirus!
Good God, we almost made the mistake of enjoying something – time with PEOPLE, no less! Well…unless I can figure out a way to classify Super Bowl parties as protests, I’ll need to switch some things up (the virus is known to avoid spreading through groups congregating for worthy enough causes).
Okay, new plan:
- Individual bubble pods spaced at appropriate distances throughout the living room?
- Or maybe it’d be more suitable for everyone to wear hazmat suits – make it a post-apocalyptic themed Super Bowl party.
Or there’s always ol’ faithful…
Everyone stays home and does a “virtual” Super Bowl party on Zoom. What a treat.
It’s up to you, but here’s the calculation I would use:
A gathering of my favorite people, the snacks they made, and some lively conversation (relating the action on the screen to various Super Bowl prop bets included) on the other hand?
I’ll take my chances with the Super Bowl party, socially-gathered friends, and a mask — for good measure.