Big Game Blitz

The big game is big. For diehard fans, it’s the excitement of the World Series, college basketball’s March mania and the Olympic women’s gymnastics finals distilled into one game of heart-pumping, fist-pounding football.

It’s the day of the year when 111 million of us crowd into the national living room and nobody wants to change the channel. The best part is you get to party instead of play, so there’s no blown-out knees, groin injuries or concussions. Well, to be honest, there is always the possibility of a concussion when the boys get together, but the odds are low.

Nothing about the Big Game is super-serious or expensive, except tickets to it. So set up your party for fun — no persnickety rules, TSA pat downs or mother-in-laws.

Your Big Game gathering should have an atmosphere similar to an afternoon at your favorite sports bar, without that obnoxious guy in the back. Whether you choose an elaborate affair — the sort that people will talk about for years, tricked out with flags, banners and pom-poms — or watch with a couple of close pals, you’re going to need a game plan. Here’s how to pull together your super day:

  • Invite guests. Last minute invites cause chaos, so two weeks before the game send out digital invitations. This is easy through websites such as or
  • Plan food and drink. You can’t go wrong with all-American sports bar favorites — wings, ribs, potato boats, chili, subs, chips and salsa, a few styles of beer and soda. You get the picture. You’ll find everything you need at your local Hy-Vee, including disposable tableware in team colors.
  • Serve snacks with shelf life. It’s a long time from pregame to the final whistle. Celebrate with slow-cookers (where are your outlets?) and keep the buffet clear of aging vittles. When the lettuce gets five o’clock shadow, it’s time to deep-six the subs.
  • Provide plenty of comfortable seating. Scatter some cushy, rump-friendly floor pillows and ditch the bun-bruising dining room chairs.
  • Plan a back-up activity in case the game’s a real snoozer. If the commercials become the only memorable moments, check out the free app ADBOWL that lets you watch Super Bowl ads and vote thumbs up or down.
  • Liven things up with a trivia tournament. Start with some of the trivia questions scattered throughout this story. If these questions don’t put enough snap on the ball, you may download some quiz apps, such as the free Super Bowl Quiz or Super Bowl Know It All.

If all else fails, make sure you’ve recorded Animal Planet Puppy Bowl during halftime. There's nothing quite as exciting as a frisky Boston Bull Terrier who... may... go... all... the... way!

Gameday Playbook

Don’t get called for illegal procedure. Here are a dozen ways to stay in the game.

  1. Keep the eats, drinks and TV in the same room. Nobody wants to lose their seat on the sofa while trekking to the kitchen for guacamole refills.
  2. Avoid spillage by setting out side tables and trays. Unless you’re a master at Twister (or some kind of circus freak), it’s impossible to reach for a beer while balancing a bowl of chili on one knee and a brownie on the other.
  3. Purge the guest list of anyone with a dog small enough to fit into a fanny pack. They tend to bark at doorbells or anything threatening—like a potted plant. That goes for cats, too. Hair in the dip … yuck!
  4. Salt your guest list with some folks who are allergic to alcohol. Enlist them for pick-up and delivery; let other guests know rides are available.
  5. Don’t go nuts if a plate of hot-wings slips from a pair of greasy hands. Just smile: “Oh, that’s OK. It’s only a $2,100 chair upholstered in Casanova silk.”
  6. Consider splurging for a limo if your gathering is small. It’s fun and eliminates driving concerns.
  7. For the buffet, put out baked chips and crackers, a fruit bowl and/or crudités. (Oh, and don’t call them crudités. They’re veggies to your chums.)
  8. And speaking of chips, mix ’em up—some multigrain, kettle-cooked, white and yellow corn. Buy ’em brawny enough to handle oversized loads. Nobody wants to fish a chip out of the cheese dip.
  9. Spills happen. Accept it. Keep a damp cloth handy (tucked in your pants, like a center), and casually blot a mishap. Do the deep scrubbing later.
  10. Ban all Tim Tebow jokes. They are stale by now and the poor guy’s got enough troubles.
  11. Go easy on the cutesy décor, but if you must have cheese-ball busts of favorite players or a playbook piped onto a cake, go crazy. By the way, tabletops of artificial turf are really cool. Just sayin’.
  12. You may like chili hot as magma, but it’s not all about you. Tone down the fire, but set out jalapeños, Tabasco, Sriracha and other hotties for those with cast-iron stomachs.

Source: Hy-Vee Seasons Health 2013.

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