Throwing a Big Game party on a budget requires just a few deft plays.
Nearly 39 million people plan on throwing a Super Bowl party this year, according to the National Retail Federation, and another 62 million plan on attending one.
It’s big business: Spending among those watching the game is expected to top $1.23 billion, or an average $68.27 per viewer.
Fortunately, if you’re not in the market for team gear or a new TV, that total is likely to be lower.
Much lower, with these 7 smart spending strategies.
Prep a buffet.
“If you just eat during the entire game your friends are going to run up quite the grocery bill,” says Richard O’Malley, event planner and the owner of TheOMalleyProject.com.
He suggests a buffet dinner during halftime, with simple dishes such as ziti, meatballs and garlic bread.
“Everyone can serve themselves buffet style with a salad, and it doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg,” he says.
Take the party out.
“Look for local Super Bowl viewing party specials at bars and restaurants,” says Jon Lal, founder of coupon site BeFrugal.com.
“They may have free food or offer one low price for the duration of the game. Depending on pricing, this may be a more cost-effective alternative to hosting a Super Bowl party.”
For example, Bludso’s Bar-&-Que in Los Angeles has a $20 all-you-can-drink party.
Or order in.
Fans are likely to see plenty of specials for takeout and delivery foods as well as dine-in.
Plus, there are plenty of other tricks to employ to cut takeout prices.
Look for football-friendly fare in your local supermarkets’ sales circulars.
Erin Chase, The $5 Dinner Mom, says MVPs, or “most valuable purchases,” include 2-liter bottles of soda, salsa, tortilla chips, smoked sausages and frozen pizza.
Use an app like Favado, she says, to figure out which supermarket has the best prices on items on your list.
Drop by the dollar store.
It’s a cheap source for plastic serving trays, disposable utensils, and paper plates, says Andrea Woroch of GiftCardGranny.com.
And the warehouse club.
Premade platters of sandwiches and other finger foods are often much less expensive than buying premade foods at your supermarket, says Woroch.
Beer and liquor can be up to 40% cheaper than local liquors stores, too.
Ask each attendee to bring a dish. Or even just ask them to bring beer, says Lal.
Think of it as a team effort to throw the party. “You’ll have much less food to purchase,” he says.
Frugal Foodie is a journalist based in New York City who spends her days writing about personal finance and obsessing about what she’ll have for dinner. Chat with her on Twitter through @MintFoodie.