When it’s time for the biggest three weeks in college basketball, a March Madness party is the way to go. About 11% of Americans filled out brackets in 2022, and they bet over $3 billion on the games! Getting together with friends to watch your predictions play out is one of the best ways to enjoy the tournament. As with any event, hosting a March Madness party calls for a little preparation. Whether you’re throwing a party to watch your favorite team play in the first round or are waiting for the championship game, these tips will help make your event one to remember.
1. Go All Out With Basketball Decorations
Since many teams compete in March Madness, you may want to keep decor neutral — unless you’re throwing a party to watch a specific team play. That means you have a lot of options. Pick up some black and orange streamers and basketball-shaped confetti, or add white tape to the floor to make a court. Store your drinks in a cooler to mimic the game-day experience. If all of your guests are rooting for the same team, you can use their colors, too.
2. Choose Easy Appetizers
You could spend days making Final Four-worthy apps, or you could make things much easier on yourself by ordering in. Pick good finger foods that your guests can nibble on throughout the day. Be sure to include a good mixture of sweet and savory snacks.
Some great options that you can get hot and ready include:
- Mozarella triangles
- Garlic bread
- Chicken wings
- French fries
3. Start Your Party Early
There’s a reason athletes do warmups. Set your party’s start time about half an hour early so your guests can mingle and catch up before the game begins. It also gives you time to finish those last-minute setup tasks and gives your chronically late friends some wiggle room.
4. Supply Brackets
The odds of a perfect NCAA bracket are about 1 in 120 billion, and no one’s ever done it before — but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a quintessential part of any March Madness party. You’ll need two kinds of brackets for a March Madness party: one for guests to fill out before the tournament begins and one to update in real time.
The first one is easy. You can simply print copies of the official bracket from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and hand them out to guests. Try using thicker paper that can stand up to spills and crumples during the party. If you are watching the first games of the tournament together, you can all fill out a bracket at the party before the games begin. If you’re waiting until the tournament is partway over before hosting your party, make sure everyone brings their filled-in brackets with them.
For the second kind of bracket, you could print an extra-large version of the same bracket from the NCAA or buy a dedicated poster online. If you’re feeling extra creative, you can make a larger-than-life bracket on a wall with painter’s tape and cards or sticky notes for each team.
5. Award Bragging Rights
If you’re hosting your party during the championship game, ramp up the competition with a brag-worthy trophy. You’ll find a huge selection of March Madness trophies and medals online. You can give out trophies to the overall winner with the closest bracket and include fun awards for the worst bracket and best dressed. Another option is to have guests predict stats, like final scores or the winning team’s field goal percentage.
Single-use trophies are great, but if you plan to celebrate every year, consider a perpetual trophy. These awards allow you to add tiny plaques with each winner’s name and the year they won. The winner usually keeps the trophy for the year, so they get to show it off in their home, too. Perpetual trophies can be a little pricier since you need to get the plaques made, but they can make your contest feel like the definition of prestigious.
6. Have the Wi-Fi Password Ready to Go
Guests will be on their phones often as they check scores and stats. Avoid answering countless questions about the Wi-Fi password by hanging a sign with the password on the wall. Bonus points if you change the password for the day to something basketball-related.
7. Play Basketball-Themed Games
Keep downtime interesting with some March Madness games and activities, such as:
- Hoops: Simply set up a hoop with inflatable or foam basketballs for guests to play during the party. If you have the space outdoors, play a real game.
- Basketball and/or college trivia: Test your guests’ knowledge of basketball trivia. If some of your guests aren’t huge sports fans, include questions about the colleges playing in the tournament.
- Basketball bingo: Hand out bingo cards and basketball stickers and have guests write in different events, like “Home team dunk” or “10-point lead.” Hand out prizes to the winners.
8. Wear a Referee Jersey
A clever way to stand out as the party host is to don a referee jersey or T-shirt. People know who to turn to if they need help finding the drinks or the bathroom, and you get to wear a whistle to call out party fouls or unsportsmanlike conduct.
9. Make a Party Supply Checklist
Avoid any last-minute trips to the store by making yourself a checklist. Make sure you have all of your food and drink supplies, like:
- Utensils, including serving spoons
- Ice and water
- Alcohol and mixers
- Bottle openers
10. Make Your Food the VIP of the Party
Anyone can do hot dogs and burgers. If you want your party to truly stand out, try serving unique, memorable entrees like the stuffed deep dish pizza from Giordano’s. Other fan-favorite March Madness food options include thin-crust pizzas, wings, hot sandwich stations and pasta — all of which make for excellent leftovers if you order too much.
As with appetizers, ordering your food ahead of time can help you avoid the stress and time commitment that comes with cooking yourself. You could go potluck style, but then you have to organize everything and figure out the timing to keep food hot and fresh. It also asks guests to do some work if they want to attend your party.
Instead, try ordering in. At Giordano’s, we offer the perfect party food delivered right to your door. We can even supply catering warming kits with disposal trays, wire racks and Sterno fuel to keep everything toasty throughout the tournament. You won’t need to leave the party to get your Marsh Madness food, and we’ll bring all the extras, like drinks and desserts.
Make March Madness a Slam Dunk With Giordano’s
A perfect March Madness bracket might be hard to predict, but it’s easy to anticipate how your guests will react to Giordano’s. For over 200 years, we’ve perfected our famous stuffed pizza, which consistently puts us at the top of “best of” lists. Our standard and catering menus have the same pricing, so you can buy the right amount for your party.
With a diverse selection of pizza, appetizers, salads, sandwiches and more, we can help you tick all your boxes. Top it off with our delivery services so you can enjoy the madness stress-free. We have locations in Chicago and across the country, so find your nearest Giordano’s and start planning your game-day menu today!