As March Madness comes into full swing, so too does some friendly competition and various chips and dips. But while you may have to be a professional baller to score a three-point shot, you don’t have to be a basketball expert to throw a respectable final four party.
Lauren Segelbaum of Event Lab in Edina has some tips to ensure your viewing party is more memorable than where Gonzaga University is located, though you may want to look that up to impress your friends.
“Make sure that your television works!” Segelbaum says. This may seem like a simple task, but it’s always one that goes unnoticed in the hurry to get food prepared and the carpet vacuumed. In this case, hopefully you have a good television and an even better connection. You’ll want to make sure there’s plenty of room to sit and mingle while games are happening and plenty of room near the snacks for the inevitable non-sports fans.
This will probably go without saying, but plan for a day when the game you’re most interested in is happening, maybe even a few in succession. More importantly, plan on people staying late if a game goes into overtime. You won’t want to be the person who has to kick friends out so you or your family member can catch a re-run of Downton Abbey.
“Make sure the food doesn’t require you to sit down at a table,” says Segelbaum. If you’re hosting and don’t have a set idea for snacks, Segelbaum suggests serving food from each division. Dishes traditionally from the East, Midwest, West and South will add variety to tastes and plenty of options for pickier guests. (For example, mac' and cheese would be an option for the kids from the South division.) Organize the snacks on a table with a final four bracket for added effect with your trademark/main dish at the center.
If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, create a signature drink inspired by your favorite team for the over 21 crowd.
Serve foods from each division. Dishes traditionally from the East, Midwest, West and South will add variety to your Final Four Party.
—Lauren Segelbaum, Event Lab
Besides decorations from your favorite university, Segelbaum recommends incorporating a healthy dose of your hometown team. Pro tip: These will also be the easiest decorations to find locally. Challenge your guests to show up in their favorite team’s jerseys or colors.
Jerseys, pennants, basketball nets and more are great for general decorations. “Anything logo-ed with teams,” says Segelbaum.
Make sure brackets are in long before your friends arrive to avoid any quarrel, but have some trivia to play between games. Have your guests place guesses over which player will score the most points and quiz them on where teams’ universities are actually located. “Who’s been in the final four the most in four years?” explains Segelbaum.
For those with more space, Segelbaum suggests Pop-A-Shots as a great way to keep kids entertained. The more competitive could invite their friends to compete in a mini bracket. Smaller nets made for the back of a well-placed door can also work as long as they’re far away from any valuables.
T'hrowing a party worthy of a final four weekend may seem like a tall order, but with a little inspiration and a healthy dose of food, you may score a few extra points in the friend bracket.