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4 Tips to Host a Game Day Party on a Budget

Football season is in full swing! While it’s a no-brainer that hosting a party at your place is cheaper than the costs that come with actually attending a game, it’s still possible to wind up spending way more than you intended as a host. Are you planning to be a host soon? Take a look at these tips to host a game day party on a budget. Your wallet will thank you.

20150920 - tips to host a gameday party on a budget

1) Encourage Participation

Most game day parties are potluck-style so that alleviates the pressure to prepare a full meal for guests. When my husband and I host, we share in the invite (usually an E-vite or email) that we will make a main dish and then invite guests to bring a side dish or dessert to accompany the entree. Sometimes people aren’t sure what to bring so I always share a few ideas so we don’t end up with 5 bags of chips and 5 jars of salsa and no other sides.

2. Start planning early

If you’re looking to host a game day party on a budget, don’t wait until the last minute to plan the food spread. If you do, you’ll likely make a lot of unplanned purchases as you shop. I recommend starting your planning session at least one week out. I’m a huge fan of list making so start by jotting down what you’ll need, like disposable serve ware and the ingredients for whatever recipe you are making. Check your disposable serve ware stock currently in your home; there have been a handful of times when I thought I had enough solo cups or disposable silverware but realized I only had a few left and had to make a quick trip to get more before guests arrived.

Don’t forget to multiply a recipe to accommodate the number of guests you expect to attend. A general rule of thumb is to make 10-20% more than you anticipate will be eaten. Worst-case scenario: you’ll have leftovers which makes for one less night of meal planning and prep during the week.

host a game day party on a budget3. Pick best value (time and money) meals

If you don’t want to slave in the kitchen all day and are looking for the best bang for your buck when considering what to serve guests, here are four main entrees that are in my usual rotation when hosting:

– Burgers & Brats
– Pulled BBQ chicken sandwiches (Bake a big pan of chicken breasts, shred it, cover it in BBQ sauce, and keep it warm in a crockpot)
– Baked potato bar (I make a huge pot of chili to go with baked potato toppings – green onion, sour cream, cheese, salsa…)
– Breakfast!

I haven’t met many people who don’t enjoy breakfast for dinner (we have breakfast for dinner multiple times a week). Eggs are one of the cheapest protein sources and it doesn’t take a chef to throw together an egg casserole. Our friends hosted a breakfast-style potluck for a new year party and asked guests to bring a waffle maker if they had one to avoid the long wait that would accommodate making one waffle at a time. They provided the waffle mix and toppings and people brought other sides like sausage, bacon, and fruit. Talk about easy prep! Your friends will cook their own meal!

4. BYOB – Bring Your Own Beverage

To host a game day party on a budget, you’ll want to eliminate the drink purchases. Fill up a few pitchers of ice water and ask friends to bring their own beverage. Alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks can quickly eat up your grocery budget but if everyone brings a 6-pack of their favorite drink to share then you avoid having to buy enough for everyone and you get more variety as a result. The variety usually offers interesting conversation since people are introduced to new drinks.

You don’t have to be a professional party planner to host a game day party on a budget (and that people will enjoy!). Skip the decor, plan ahead, and encourage participation to cut down on your workload. You’ll enjoy being with friends and actually watching the game.

How do you host a game day party on a budget? Do you have any more tips?

This post has been written by Jessica from

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My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.


  1. During the summer, we ended up hosting so often that we actually had a bring your own meat party. We provided salads and desert and our friends brought some of the most unique meats ever (including bison burgers, venison steaks, and pheasant “poppers”). That was pretty glorious.

    But like you suggested, we usually just provide the main meal and ask others to bring sides.

    • Great idea, Hannah! Our friends do a bring your own meat BBQ as well every summer. That would save so much money. Thanks for sharing.

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