March Madness officially started on March 16th with “Selection Sunday,” when 64 NCAA Men’s and Women’s basketball teams are selected to go to the “Big Dance”—the NCAA Division I Basketball Championship tournament which will be April 7th in Arlington, Texas. The first weekend of tournament play is the safest time to have a party to celebrate your favorite college basketball team. Why? Because, it’s the first round and all the teams that make it to the tournament will play that first week. However, anytime during the tournament is a good time to have a party with a little preparation.
Here are some helpful tips to pull off the perfect March Madness party:
1. Be sure your guests know what time you want them to arrive and what time the party will end. The games occur at different times throughout the week. Without a set time, you could end up having a slumber party.
2. Make sure everyone knows what’s going on. There’s nothing worse than missing a slam dunk because you were busy answering a question from someone who isn’t up to date but rather is tagging along for fun. Print out some brackets for your guests to have on hand at the party. You can get them from plenty of websites including the NCAA, CBS Sports, TBS, TNT, or various sites on the internet. Try this printable bracket from Huffington Post Sports.
3. Make food selections manageable. Remember people will be walking around, lounging in the living room, jumping up in awe of a great play, etc. Do you really want them eating meatball subs on your furniture? Try something a bit less messy like hoagies, buffalo wing bites, or sweet heat hot dogs/sausages. My brother makes the most delicious seafood stuffed mushrooms and, he rivals any well-known chef when it comes to his white bean chicken chili-both of which are suited for a game day party. Its your party, but remember unless you don’t mind cleaning up the mess, try not to serve anything too messy. Your best bet is to serve finger foods and foods that are easy to eat sitting on a couch and standing up. Don’t forget the usual sports snacks like popcorn and mixed nuts, and cookies or fresh fruit or both for the sweet tooth!
4. Have a well-stocked bar. If you prefer not to fully stock a bar, create at least one specialty drink (my favorite is a mojito) and make it your signature cocktail. I recommend doing something like this in advance or at the least, keep it simple enough for guest to make on their own or you’ll be playing bartender for the duration of the party.
5. Turn up the volume! It’s not a party without music! Try something from the ESPN “Jock Jams” collection, all of which are available online. These songs are sure to get you pumped up during the commercials.