Super Bowl Big Game™ party can be daunting. What all do I need? How much beer is enough? Why are does everyone say the phrase "Big Game"? Why can't we just say Super Bowl?
Lucky for you, would-be party host, I've done most of the legwork. Below is a list of all the "must-haves" for a Super Bowl party, sorted into three helpful categories for novice, intermediate, and insane hosts. You already know which one you are.
Host level 1: Novice
In our consumerist culture, the phrase "must have" gets thrown around pretty loosely so as to create an artificial sense of need and prop up a capitalist society based on needless widgets produced in foreign countries and sold at rural gas stations. To provide the best service for first-time hosts, we're adhering to the most literal possible definition of "Super Bowl Party Must Haves."
By definition, a party is comprised of multiple individuals. If other people aren't present, you don't have a party—regardless of your intent. But that's easy enough to address, as you don't need people you like or even know. Just put out a call, maybe on Craigslist or oDesk, for people willing to watch football in a stranger's house. They're out there.
Grab whatever's in the fridge. If there's nothing in there but a pack of ketchup, put that out, and then read up on the Freeganism movement.
Water is free, and sufficiently meets the drink requirement (unless you're an American abroad).
OLD TV (Free, from your aunt's garage)
The Super Bowl is on Fox, so don't waste your money on cable. Find someone in your family with one of those old rabbit-ear TVs and jiggle the antennae until the dulcet tones of Joe Buck begin to cut through the static.
Host level 2: Intermediate
What's that—you want your guests to actually enjoy the party? And you want to actually know your guests? Why didn't you say so?
Inviting actual friends to your party is fun and considerably less awkward than strangers. If you need help with this step, here's a handy guide with helpful anime-style illustrations. Yes, I know those guys are watching the wrong kind of football.
A RELATIVELY GIANT TV ($479.99)
Select cable providers will allow individuals to stream the Big Game™ on their iPads, but that obviously won't fly once you've got a friend or two. You'll need a big flat screen if you want to see grown men concuss each other in stunning high definition. I suggest any number of Samsung models, with the 40" option highlighted here.
A BIG COUCH ($999)
You're going to want a sweet corner sofa for this shindig, and the Internet tells me that the IKEA Ektorp is a solid under-$1000 option. Bonus for Broncos fans: It comes in beige, so you can match it to Peyton Manning's personality.
DELIVERED PIZZA (~$10.00 per pie)
The national pizza chains almost always feature pizza-and-soda specials for the Super Bowl. And for every other day. If you're not getting 18 large two-topping pizzas for the price of three, you're doing something wrong.
SOLO CUPS ($10.99)
Ever since that Toby Keith song came out, the nation's top scientists have been attempting to develop a viable replacement to the classic plastic cup. To date they've been unsuccessful, so get ready for someone to spill beer on your Ektorp while trying to do an Anna Kendrick impression.
There's a large swath of the population -- including Mormons, babies, and recovering addicts -- who enjoy football but can't drink beer. Serve those folks without fear of running out of pop with a SodaStream machine. Babies love carbonated beverages.
REGIONALLY-APPROPRIATE BEER (How should I know?)
For this we turn to SI baseball writer Jay Jaffe, who last summer wrote about his favorite beers in a handful of baseball stadiums. If Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale and Dale’s Pale Ale are good enough for Safeco Field and Coors Field, respectively, than they should be good enough for you, too.
FOOTBALL-SHAPED PLASTIC TRAYS ($5.00)
In case any of your party guests suffer from crippling short-term memory loss, this dish is a fun and festive way to remind them what they're doing in your home.
GUAC (~$0.30 per ounce)
Every Big Game™ Sunday, fans consume 8 million pounds of guac—a number that's sure to rise now that the national tastemakers at Subway have officially recognized the existence of the avocado. Wholly Guacamole is one of the better store brands if you're not keen to make your own.
SUPER BOWL DELUXE PARTY KIT ($59.99)
When your guests are unsure whether they're at a Big Game™ party or a Big Game™-themed five year-old's birthday party, something's gone horribly right. This "Deluxe Party Kit" from Party City features enough disposable plates and cups to serve 32 people. When you buy something from a company whose Super Bowl motto is "Rain Sleet or Hail Mary," you know they're serious about the Big Game, or illiterate.
SURROUND SOUND SYSTEM ($399)
Being able to hear everything the announcers say during a given Super Bowl isn't vital. In fact, with Joe Buck and Troy Aikman calling this year's game, you probably want to miss as much as possible. But missing the punchline of a clever ad? People go nuts. Make sure everyone in the back can hear the brilliant repartee of E*Trade talking baby with the Onkyo HT-S3500 speaker set.
Wings are the key food in any Super Bowl party worth its salt. Don't skimp here. Go with a quality meat purveyor like Omaha Steaks, rather than the cheap supermarket fare. And hey -- if you're feeding Broncos fans, there's an easy tie-in opportunity here (no, that link is to horse meat).
NFL DOORWAY CURTAIN ($7.95)
Nothing gets a party started like making it annoying to enter. This NFL Doorway Curtain achieves that in two ways: Obstructing party-goers, and reminding them that their crappy team didn't come close to the championship this season.
BANDWAGON TEAM GEAR ($27.95)
"Yeah, I'm a huge fan of Conference Champions." Convince everyone at the party you've heard of one of these teams before with any number of reasonably priced bandwagon swag from the NFL.
BOX POOL POSTER ($2.99)
You could print out a box pool out, but it's hard on a normal printer. You could draw one on posterboard, but you know it'll be a sloppy, wobbly mess. This 24" x 32" edition is a neat, cheap solution to both problems.
Host level 3: Insanity
Shhhhh. Don't ask questions. This is the Big Game™.
RENTED CELEBS (up to $15,000+)
Sports celebrity rental site Thuzio has a trove of personalities available for "Big Game" appearances. For just $5k, you can snag the Honey Badger or Santonio Holmes. Or for a measly $2,500, Jets fans can enjoy a night of verbally abusing Mike Tannenbaum. If you've just got to have a Super Bowl winner, though, be prepared to pay at least $15,000 for Brian Billick. Talking heads are going fast, so act now!
CUSTOM TEAM TUXEDO OR DRESS ($30-$76)
EDIBLE FOOTBALL STADIUM (Varies)
Few things are as simultaneously repulsive and impressive as a model football stadium made of junk food. Well, there are few things in the real world. There are a ton of things on the internet that could be described as equally or more repulsive and impressive. I could send you links, but I'd just as soon not.
INFLATABLE HELMET TUNNEL ($4275.00)
Nothing will get your party guests PUMPED for the Big Game™ quite like running through a giant inflatable helmet tunnel. For a cool $4,000-$8,000, Cogswell Creations will blow up a fake brain shield with whatever you want emblazoned on it. Of course, if you're going all out on the tunnel, you also need ...
FOG MACHINE ($79.99)
*Fog machine starts* "From The University of Ohio ... my wife's brother ... DONNNNNNNN."
YALOS DIAMOND TV ($130,000)
I'm not sure this can be purchased online. But do you really want a 103-inch plasma TV made out of white gold and 160 diamonds shipped in an Amazon box?
MARCHING BAND RENTAL (Prices vary)
The only true analog audio experience is live music. Bring the halftime show to your home by searching for Super Bowl-available outfits on Gig Masters.
KEGGERMEISTER KEGERATOR ($649.99)
"Another beer? Sure one second."
[Book case opens up]
[Batcave is revealed]
[Punches password into Batcomputer]
[Kegerator rises from under hidden floor panel.]
"Here you go."
FATHEAD DECALS OF ALL 106 ACTIVE PLAYERS ON EACH TEAM (~$10,000)
Not every player has a prefab Fathead ready to go, so you're going to have to file a lot of custom orders. Make your butler or personal assistant do it.
And remember: Have fun.