Are your ready to binge-watch some basketball? Between Selection Sunday and the One Shining Moment montage, there are few reasons to do anything else. Even if you don’t have tourney tickets to watch some of the games live, you can still put on your favorite team’s flat-billed hat and do some serious apartment entertaining.
As soon as the seeds are announced on Selection Sunday, decide which games would be most fun to watch with a group of people. The first and second round games are usually exciting because of the potential for upsets. Or maybe your alma matter is predicted to advance to the Sweet Sixteen and you want to have a party then. (Just keep in mind that there are no guarantees!) The Final Four games are also a popular time to host a party.
Once you’ve decided when to throw your party, get your guests excited by sending them an invitation. Create an online group on ESPN.com and ask guests to fill out a bracket before the first game tips off. A little friendly competition makes it more entertaining to watch the games even if one of the teams you were rooting for gets knocked out of the tournament.
Keep your decorations simple. A few strategically placed basketball paper lanterns and an oversized chalkboard with the brackets written on it are probably enough. Don’t have a chalkboard? Make one using four of these foam-backed chalk boards (one board for each region) and use it to write down the winners of each game. Few things are more satisfying than manually advancing your favorite team or crossing out a rival team.
No March Madness party is complete without food—lots and lots of food! This isn’t a fancy dinner party. Think beers, brats and hot wings when planning your menu. Eliminate the messy fingers that typically accompany hot wings, however, by serving this Blue Cheese Hot Wing Dip with some chicken strips and celery. It can be made in advance and combines everything you love about hot wings.
You’ll also want plenty of snacks to munch on throughout the game. Pretzels are a perfect, as are an assortment of sweets. You could even serve cupcakes or cookies frosted to look like basketballs.
A bracket challenge is a March Madness must, but you can up the ante at your party by offering a prize to the person who picked the most games correctly that day. Choose something funny like a Hoop Head hat or have guests put in $5 or $10 each to play and give the pot to the winner.