Football season is here again, and since most people prefer to watch the game in groups, that will mean gatherings and parties.
If those events are taking place at your home, and happening on a regular basis, you may be finding that your budget is stretched tighter than normal.
That’s never a good position to be in – especially since the holidays are just around the corner!
If your home is the place where your social circle meets regularly to watch football, here are some changes that you can work into your routine that can save you hundreds of dollars over the course of the season.
Keep it Low Key
If you’re hosting events regularly, you don’t need to make it like the Big Game every week. Having a few friends over to watch the game, munch on some snacks, and drink a few beverages can be just as fun as some of the other suggestions below.
Ultimately, it’s about the product on the screen and the company in the room.
If, however, a big bash each week is more your speed… here are a few more suggestions.
Host a Potluck
Do you like your football gatherings to include food – like a meal? Make the meal preparation into a “team sport” – just like the game everyone is coming over to watch. You’re providing the house and the incidentals, so it won’t be imposing on anyone if you ask them to bring their favorite dish. Some people may even have football food traditions that they may want to bring along.
One of the best ways to do this is to provide the main food item for the meal – whether it’s hot wings, hamburgers and hot dogs, or pizza – and ask your guests to bring a hot or cold side dish or a dessert. You can also provide soft drinks, or you can even ask one or more of your guests to bring some along.
To help coordinate, I recommend using a shared Google spreadsheet so everyone can pick what they want to bring without duplicates. Or, if technology isn’t you, or your friends’ strong suit, everyone brings the same thing each week. You don’t want two people bringing the same dip!
Avoid Pre-packaged Foods
Those frozen/microwavable snack foods that you get at the grocery store may be convenient – and sometimes they’re even tasty – but they’re expensive.
You’re typically buying relatively small quantities at high prices. And truth be told, they’re not usually very satisfying either. We’re talking about mozzarella sticks, bite-size pizzas, pigs-in-a-blanket, and similar snacks.
If you are having a meal, you really don’t need appetizers. And even if you aren’t, it may even be less expensive to serve chips and dip, and just order a couple of pizzas when everyone gets hungry. That will almost certainly be less expensive than buying 21 boxes of freeze-dried snacks at $7 a box.
BYOB – Bring Your Own Beverage
Alcohol can be the single biggest expense involved in football parties, particularly if some of your friends are heavy drinkers. Don’t be afraid to ask your guests to bring their own bottle, whether it’s beer, wine, or hard liquor. Even if you all agree to the same beer, and order a keg, you won’t be out of line asking your guests to contribute to that purchase. After all, you’ll be supplying the venue, the main entrée, and the incidentals.
This can work out well on a non-financial level too. Many beer drinkers are devoted to a specific personal beer brand, and by bringing their own, they’ll have exactly what they want. After all, it won’t be possible or practical for you to supply the favorite beers of every person who comes to your home to watch the game, and in sufficient quantity to meet everyone’s expectations.
Shop at a Dollar Store for Incidentals
Personally, I think non-disposable utensils, plates, and cups are the way to go. Running the dishwasher is cheaper than buying disposable… but if you don’t have enough or simply don’t want to do the dishes, go to the dollar store for those items.
This will include paper plates, plastic cups, plastic utensils, and even disposable tablecloths. In addition to napkins, paper towels, and cleaning supplies, the cost of these incidentals can mount, especially if you’re hosting multiple events.
Since all of these items are incidentals – and in no way the main event of your gathering – this is an area where you can save a lot of money. For that reason, you should favor shopping at dollar stores to buy incidentals. Not only will you save a lot of money, but it’s unlikely that your guests will pay much attention to the quality of these items. Brand names are completely unnecessary, as all of it will be thrown away immediately anyway.
With these simple steps, football season won’t bankrupt you!