15 Budget-Friendly Tips for Hosting a Winning Football Party

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Unleash the fun (not the cash) with these creative ideas for a game-day bash.
Updated Jan. 17, 2024
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Is your team in the running to make it to the big game? Or are you just there for the snacks?

Regardless of why you’re hosting or showing up to the big game party, everyone’s ready for a good time and great food. You can save money shopping and throw a winning party at the same time.

Here are 15 fun and clever ways to host a football party on a budget.

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Make it a potluck

Jenifoto/Adobe football theme food table scene

You’ll save money if you’re not making all the dishes yourself, but that’s not the only benefit of a potluck.

It’s fun to see people’s favorite football recipes, especially if they come with a fun backstory or tradition.

Ask people to sign up beforehand so you don’t end up with multiple desserts or more than one guacamole (not that anyone will complain).

Keep it simple

gorynvd/Adobe man taking a potato chip

While it might be tempting to go all out with the most complicated snack recipes you can find, your guests will enjoy eating football food regardless of whether it’s simple or fancy.

So keep it simple and cheap. Chips and dip. Chicken tenders. Brownies. When you’re sticking to a budget, stick to the classics.

Choose a crock pot meal to feed a crowd

MyPixelArtStudios/Adobe hearty vegan chili delight

The cheapest meals can be the best, especially when served warm in a crock pot.

Try an easy chili recipe with lots of beans for cheap protein. This goes a long way, costs only a few dollars, and is a fun football party meal.

Create a topping station with cheese, sour cream, and green onions for a budget-friendly and interactive spin.

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Skip the football-themed decor

motortion/Adobe football competition on big screen

Unless you already have football decor ready, skip it. Don’t get tempted by the seasonal aisle at Target or even the cute football plates at the dollar store.

You don’t need them. Use your own dishware or scour your shelves and home for decor in the team’s colors. It doesn’t need to be traditional tableware to add to the theme.

But if you spend..make it reusable

Olesya/Adobe party table for a football game

Sometimes, it’s too hard to resist the fun decor, even when you know you shouldn’t.

If you want to splurge on a few fun football-themed items, choose items you can reuse year after year.

Target and dollar stores have fun decor for any football game all year or a football-themed baby shower.

Decorate a plain tablecloth

bernardbodo/Adobe adorable artists

Grab a few markers and a white paper tablecloth, then go to town with football drawings and team logos.

It’s a quick and easy way to get customized football decor for the big game without breaking the bank on licensed items. If you have kids, let them loose. They’ll have a blast decorating for the party.

Incorporate cheap or free activities

Artur/Adobe game night on notebook

Some people are going to be glued to the TV, while others will want entertainment beyond the screen and the snack table.

Have a few free, fun activities at the ready. Create a football trivia quiz, bingo cards for ads, or a friendly “betting” pool.

Don’t have the time to make your own games? Pick up a downloadable one online; Etsy has plenty.

Make your veggie tray instead of buying one

IdeaBug, Inc./Adobe fresh vegetables on party tray with dip

Those pre-made veggie trays at the grocery store are usually assembled with basic veggies, yet there’s a significant upcharge because they’re made by someone else.

Instead, buy a bag of baby carrots, a bag of celery, and a couple of cucumbers to assemble your own veggie tray. Make a homemade ranch dressing using a dip mix and mayonnaise.

Look to Temu for supplies

Koshiro/Adobe temu website seen in an iphone

Temu is where you’ll find deals on nearly everything. You can pick up a set of fun and vibrant football plates, cups, and napkins for just $1.98.

That’s worth the cost just for the soap and water you’ll save.

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Use a free Evite software or just text

Kannapat/Adobe hand of businessman using smartphone for email with notification alert

Some digital invitations cost money, and you may not realize it until you’re too far in the process.

Choose a free software, like Evite, send an email, or just text your friends and family to invite them over. Keep it super easy and casual.

Plan your menu around the sales

Seventyfour/Adobe looking at frozen foods in freezer

No one has to know you waited until the week before the big party to plan your menu for the big game.

Look at the sales that week and decide what you’ll serve based on what’s on sale at your local grocery store.

Is there a sale on rotisserie chickens? Chicken salad sandwiches are always a favorite.

Skip the babysitter

lithiumphoto/Adobe children making DIY volcano model from kids play clay

Kids may not want to sit through a whole football game but don’t splurge on a babysitter. Instead, have supplies ready to entertain them.

Coloring books, paper, and crayons in a designated area should keep them busy — or at least busy enough that you won’t feel bad about not shelling out $15/hour for a sitter.

Put BYOB on the invite

georgerudy/Adobe friends at the pub

Guests are usually happy just to have someone else's house to run amok in, and they won't mind bringing their own alcohol — in fact, they'll probably expect to.

Ask your guests politely to "Bring a dish and whatever you'd like to drink." This lets them choose their beverage, whether beer, wine, or a fun mocktail.

Meal plan with the leftovers

fahrwasser/Adobe pulled pork tacos

Don’t throw away the mountain of leftovers after the big game. Choose dishes that you’ll be able to use throughout the week.

Buffalo chicken tenders can turn into a buffalo chicken salad on Monday, while guacamole and pulled pork are perfect for a taco night.

Set a budget

fizkes/Adobe Man working on laptop

If you do want to spend on the party, set a budget from the beginning. List out how much you want to spend on food, decor, and drinks, and stick to it.

Don’t get tempted to overspend, and if you find yourself hitting your budget but still needing help, look to your guests. Most people are happy to pitch in bringing food, decor, and more.

Bottom line

Davide Angelini/Adobe watching soccer world cup

You can stick to your budget and still host a great football party. Also, use one of the best cashback credit cards to get rewards for your next grocery run.

It doesn’t take much to have a good time during football season. People are happy to gather and have a fun time, and they often expect to pitch in with a dish or two.

The most important lesson to learn when entertaining on a budget is not to be afraid to ask or delegate. Your guests want to help. Let them.

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Author Details

Heather Bien Heather Bien is a writer covering personal finance and budgeting and how those relate to life, travel, entertaining, and more. With bylines that include The Spruce, Apartment Therapy, and mindbodygreen, she's covered everything from tax tips for freelancers to budgeting hacks to how to get the highest ROI out of your home renovations.

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