Throwing an epic NCAA March Madness party can be the highlight of tournament season. Whether you are rooting for your favorite team, cheering on the underdog, or just love watching sports, gathering with friends can make the experience even more fun. I have been to many NCAA parties, and even thrown a few myself and had great success. Follow these tips and recipe ideas to make your March Madness party a hit with your friends.
Pick Your Game
Early on in the tournament could be a fun time to throw your party particularly if your favorite team is an underdog or low-seeded team. Others like to wait til the Final Four games or even the championship game to get their festivities on. A friend of mine throws a party for every game that a team from her home state plays in, which means some years there is a lot of partying. I recommend picking a game that is on a weekend or airing in prime time so more people can attend. Send out invites well in advance on Facebook, via email, or even text message and get the buzz started.
Get Your Gear
Every party needs basic essentials: napkins, plates, cups and cutlery. To make your party memorable, pick the team colors for the opposing teams and set them at opposite ends of your food buffet or kitchen. This makes it feel even more festive. Buy more items than you think you will need, you never know when someone will drop a plate or someone may bring along more friends for the fun. Make sure to have plenty of coasters, cleaning supplies and trash bags around the house so you are left with less mess to pick up. Make sure every bathroom is well stocked with toilet paper-you don’t know how essential that is until it runs out.
Select Your Snacks
The first thing I would suggest is picking snacks that represent each team’s colors, like cupcakes with color frosting, frosted cookies or even team color candies. If the state your team is from has a regional specialty, hop online and recreate the recipe. Make a lot of tiny appetizers, like pigs in a blanket and other finger foods to keep everyone satisfied. Classic party standbys like pizza, chips, soda and beer if you want alcohol are always a must have. I have been to too many parties where food ran out fast, so be sure you have a lot of extra snacks on hand to keep everyone happy.
Set Up the Viewing Area
Make sure that the area with your TV is guest ready and that everything with your television is in good working order. Make sure that there is plenty of extra seating, whether its folding chairs or floor pillows within easy access to accommodate all your guests. If you will be having a large party and have more than one TV available, set up two viewing rooms or move everything to a garage. If you’re fortunate to live in a warm climate, set up an outside party with the television in the yard, but check the weather ahead of time to avoid rain. Clear the viewing area of breakable items and keep anything you don’t want turning up missing secure. And lastly, decorate with team colors to give it a real party feel. I have have attended parties that I remember every detail of because the host made the experience truly fun.
Have everything done at least an hour before guests are supposed to arrive and keep snacks warm in a low temperature oven. You will have people who show up very early and will want to start snacking before the rest of the crew arrives. I have thrown parties where guests came up to two hours beforehand, so if you’re slammed with guests early, put them to work helping you cook or prep the house. If you have everything planned and ready to go, you’ll get to enjoy the game too.
If your party is a success, you might want to keep the party rolling and throw more tournament parties until the championship game. With a little work and planning, your party will be one your friends talk about for years to come. And you’ll probably be the designated tournament party house for next years tournament.