Super Bowl XLVI promises to be an epic battle between the New England Patriots (Go Pats!) and the New York Giants, and we all know what that means – it’s time for a Super Bowl Sunday party! There’s nothing like watching a thriller in the company of good friends and good food, unless of course you’re lucky enough to get tickets to the big game. For those of us who’ll be stuck at home watching the game on TV, things can be just as fun with a few party tricks:

Food for a Super Bowl party

1. Plan Your Guests

The people you invite make up the bulk of your party’s atmosphere, so it’s really important that you get the right folks to come over. From my experience, it’s always good to have some of your loudest, most raucous friends watch the game with you. Noisy fans tend to have contagious energy levels, which is key to creating that stadium feel at home. Besides, who watches football quietly seated in the corner?

You have to make sure, however, that whoever you invite is a good sport. You want this in case your team loses (Brady isn’t going to let that happen, of course); bad sports make for bad company in these situations. They’re either big downers or so full of anger that their moods will actually spread throughout the party.

This is especially important if you have friends rooting for the opposite team. The occasional ribbing is part of the fun with sports, but you don’t want anyone starting fights in the heat of the moment – especially when you have the safety of your furniture to think about.

2. Put Up Some Unique Decorations

While the game and your guests set most of the party’s atmosphere, your decorations will go a long way into creating the mood, particularly during the pre-game.  Put things over the top by using a unique focal point to the decorations, along with some other unconventional items throughout the house. Not only do these pieces keep everyone’s minds on football, but their wow factor also serves as a conversation starter.

This year, I’m bringing out my red, blue and silver Christmas trees and setting up a sort of “Super Bowl nook”. It’s always fun to see your team’s colors where you’d least expect them. I even bought some cute tree ornaments from the NFL shop to spruce things up.

If you have kids, you can gather up some clothes in your team’s colors and dress up some of their stuffed toys. Give the toys their own “bleacher” – an unused chair or sofa – and craft up some handmade pennants and signs. This will give you a second group of adorable fans to watch the game with.

Feel free to experiment and indulge your creativity. The more out there your ideas are, the more interesting your décor will be.

3. Go Overboard with the Food

By “overboard”, I mean both in flavor and in quantity. Savory food like buffalo wings and pizza always add to the energy of the affair, and they taste fantastic to boot. You’ll also want to prepare food for more people than you’re expecting; people tend to get peckish before, during, and after the game. You also never know who’s going to bring a surprise plus one to the affair.

For my parties, I also like to toss in a quirky item into the menu. Last year, I made pierogi stuffed with 3 types of Wisconsin cheese and jalapeños in honor of the Steelers and Packers. This year, I’m baking up a batch of gingerbread men wearing Patriot and Giant uniforms. This way, the Patriots will be with us in more ways than one, and we can bite the heads off of the Giants. It’s win-win, in my opinion!

4. Have Extra Entertainment Handy

It’s crucial that you don’t depend entirely on the game to keep your guests entertained. Not everyone enjoys the halftime show, and some people tend to linger for a while after the game. We typically fire up the kids’ Xbox for a little football gaming after the final whistle, but I’m thinking of doing something different this year. We bought a couple of new board games recently, so I’m probably going to try them out with everyone once the game’s done.

Of course, what you do at your party is purely dependent on what your friends are interested in. If you have a bunch of budding singers at your party, renting out a karaoke machine is always a good idea. Cocktails are also always welcome, and you won’t have to strain your imagination too much. What’s important is that you always have something fun to break any possible lull moments with.

Hopefully, these tips have given you a few ideas on how to make your own Super Bowl party extra special this year. Let’s hope Sunday’s game is just as good!

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