The first Sunday of February is a national holiday. Everyone gathers around the neighborhood’s biggest screen to watch the two best teams duke it out. However, just because everyone has a Super Bowl party to attend on Super Bowl Sunday doesn’t mean that everyone enjoys the event. In fact, sports cynics and kids usually spend the holiday muttering sullenly to one another while the game of the year rages on for three-plus hours.

super bowl party

This year, while the nation’s teams continue to battle for a chance at the playoffs — let alone the Super Bowl — you can start planning a football party sure to engage every attendee. With a little forethought and some preparation, you can ensure everyone wins on Super Bowl Sunday.

Make Food — and Continue to Make Food

Snacks are an essential part of the Super Bowl experience. Most partygoers will come expecting the regular spread: chips, dips, and a sad-looking vegetable platter. However, you can surprise and astound your guests with incredible culinary creations — and continue surprising them even after the game begins.

By keeping your kitchen busy while the game rages on, even your non-sports-fan guests will feel the suspense of waiting for your latest and greatest appetizer. Plus, you can enlist a few of your most dispassionate guests as chef’s helpers, giving them important tasks to distract them from their Super Bowl Sunday blues.

Distribute Awards

There is no better way to keep people invested in the festivities than to contrive a competition — or several. You can arrange several contests throughout the night, some sports-themed and some not, and promise your guests that winners will earn amazing awards for their efforts. The items you hand out need not be expensive or elaborate; for more competitive categories, you might offer real Super Bowl memorabilia, but most awards can be small, like candy bars or gift cards. Some contests you consider might be:

  • Best Team Spirit
  • Worst Party Foul
  • Best and Worst Sports Jokes
  • Best Appetizers
  • Worst Sports Knowledge
  • Make (Friendly) Wagers

It is hard not to make predictions on the biggest American sporting event of the year, so you might as well formalize your guests’ wagers. Of course, if you live in a state that prohibits gambling (which is to say, most of them) you might keep your sports bets small and friendly, ideally risking small favors instead of big money to stay within the lines of the law.

Betting who will win and who will lose is too simple — everyone at your party has a 50/50 chance of succeeding, with is ultimately uninteresting. Instead, game-related wagers should be especially specific and ideally unconnected with the final outcome. For example, these bets make the game truly nerve-wracking:

  • Penalty yards. Which team will incur more penalties? How many yards will they incur?
  • Challenges. Which coach will call the first challenge? Will the challenge succeed?
  • Yardage totals. Which team will accumulate more rushing and/or passing yards? How many will they total?
  • Anything else you can think of. Come up with unique or odd-ball bets.

More importantly, you should encourage wagers that are totally separate from the game. Non-sports-fans are not only at a disadvantage when it comes to football-related bets, but they are less likely to get engaged with the action. Therefore, the following wagers should also be present at your party:

  • Halftime performance. Which performer will have the best act?
  • Commercials. What brand will have the funniest/most poignant/most creative ad?

Host a Trivia Game

It isn’t risky to assume that those dispassionate about sports have little sports knowledge — but it could also be true that your more ardent sports fans lack familiarity with topics your non-sports fans are proficient in. Thus, at regular intervals throughout your party, you can pit partygoers against one another with opposing trivia questions. Like the board game “Battle of the Sexes,” though not divided on gender lines, this game will keep everyone interested and show that there is more to life than football, even on Super Bowl Sunday.

Keep Up the Chatter

If all else fails, you can always keep your non-sports-fan guests happy with some comfortable conversation. Chatting about current events, personal problems, or even just the goings-on at the party can keep most guests contented while their loved ones are consumed by sports. More than anything, Super Bowl Sunday is an opportunity to spend time with the people you care about, and while the contests and snacks are fun diversions, you should absolutely take some time during the holiest of sporting events to celebrate each other.