For basketball fans, there's no more thrilling time of the year than early spring. Yes, we’re talking about the big tournament! As it kicks into high gear, game time will quickly become party time. And even if you're not into college hoops, who can say no to a fun gathering of family and friends? So, get ready to cheer on your team (or the demise of your rival's team) and host your own tournament party!
But, before you get planning, we have some entertaining ideas to make sure your event is a slam dunk.
Plan Your Setup Strategy
For our first entertaining idea, let’s discuss the setup. For more parties, placing the food where people gather is a great move. But, for your tournament party, you may want to consider having the TV and food stations in separate rooms. It seems backward, but this way, die-hard fans can catch every nuance of the game without being distracted by conversations about the crazy March weather and how amazing the munchies are — and vice versa.
The food should be in a nearby room though, so when the game is on a commercial break, the avid fans can quickly grab a bite before the next play.
Keep the Food Simple
When throwing a tournament party, you already have a lot on your plate - cleaning, prepping, decorating and being the host (for starters). So, our next entertaining idea is all about keeping the menu simple. Need a little inspiration? Here are some recipes you could try!
Easy Snack Mix
This party mix is packed with flavor and crunch and is perfect for die-hard fans watching the game to quickly grab a handful and get back to the game. Let’s take a look at what’s in this mix!
- Unsalted Butter
- Worcestershire Sauce
- Hot Sauce
- Chili Powder
- Ranch Dressing & Dip Mix
- Toasted Rice Cereal
- Chex Wheat Cereal
- Gardetto's Rosated Garlic Rye Chips
- Butter Snaps Pretzels
- Mixed Nuts
Once you have all of your ingredients, it’s time to start cooking! Preheat your oven to 250°F and in five steps, your snack mix will be ready for munching. Snag the recipe here!
Basketball and meatballs sound like a good combination for a tournament party, right? Plus, mini meatballs are bite-size and easy to eat while standing or sitting on the couch (with a napkin, of course).
Our cheese-stuffed meatballs are a twist on the typical BBQ sauce and grape jelly appetizer staple. Made with lean ground beef, onion, egg, breadcrumbs, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, cheddar cheese, green onions, salt and pepper (with some extra hot sauce plus BBQ for the sauce), this recipe should only take about 35 minutes to make. Want to give it a try? Check out the recipe!
Chicken & Bacon Dip
If you're tight on time, try this super-easy slow cooker favorite: 2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, two 8-ounce blocks of Food Lion cream cheese and two 1-ounce packets of dry ranch seasoning. Mix the ingredients and cook on low for 8 hours, or on high for 4 hours. Then, shred the chicken and mix in 8 ounces of crumbled bacon. Serve with crackers or tortilla chips for a savory dip that is sure to be a big hit.
Slam Dunk Sugar Cookies
For your guests with a sweet tooth, these sugar cookies are the perfect addition to your tournament party menu. Plus, they’re quick and easy to make, but will still wow the crowd with your decorating skills. Here’s what you’ll need to pick up from your local Food Lion to make these cookies:
- Granulated Sugar
- All-Purpose Flour
- Vanilla Extract
- Milk Chocolate Morsels
- Orange Royal Icing
Then, grab a microwave-safe bowl, a cookie sheet and some piping bags and you’re ready to start baking! Get the full recipe with instructions on our recipe portal.
These recipes are all easy and delicious, but if you want to add some more food options to your tournament party menu without having to spend the time prepping, here are some items you can pick up from Food Lion and have on the table in no time:
- Frozen egg or spring rolls
- Cheese & crackers
- Deli meat, cheese and wraps for bite-size pinwheels
- Store-made tortilla chips with salsa
For a party where people are going to be holding plates on their laps or even moving around, make sure you offer food that's easy to hold and eat. That’s the key to this entertaining idea! The recipes we mentioned above are great choices, but did you know that your local Food Lion offers party platters with the perfect game day foods?
From the Love Me Tender party platter, a mouth-watering array of chicken tenders served with a honey-mustard sauce, to the Nibbler platter, a collection of swiss, cheddar, and other cheeses along with sweet red and white grapes, there are 12 platters to choose from! And if you’re looking for a hoops-themed, decorated cake, our bakery has you covered.
For some extra fun with your party menu, go wild with the basketball puns and make a few signs that say things like: Dribbling Drinks, Slam Dunk Appetizers, Full Court Food, Turnovers and Other Desserts.
Stock Up on Game Day Drinks
If you're planning to stock a cooler with soda and bottled water, be sure to add some on-theme options like bottles of orange and lemon-lime sports drinks. And if you want to take this entertaining idea a step further and make your own drink for your guests, try this Fizzy Orange Punch! All you need is a can of pineapple juice, three cups of lemon-lime soda, three cups of orange drink, two liters of ginger ale, and a half-gallon of Food Lion orange sherbet. Stir and it’s ready to pour!
Dress The Part
Let’s be honest - every party is more fun when guests dress the part! On your invites, request that your guests come in Converse or basketball tank tops — or simply the colors of their favorite team (even if they've already been knocked out of the bracket.) You can even hand out inexpensive t-shirts or sweatbands in team colors at the door.
One fun idea for the hosts - dress in black and white like referees! That way, you're easy to spot and you have full authority to blow your whistle if you see a party foul.
Decorate with Tournament Decor
Bring out the orange and black for this entertaining idea! And if you're thinking those colors sound familiar — you may be thinking about Halloween. So, check your cupboards to see if you've got leftover decorations from October — streamers, chalk, poster board — that can be repurposed into a basketball theme. Of course, if everyone at the party is rooting for a hometown college team, you're safe going with team colors as well.
Buy a few inexpensive basketball hoops (the kind that goes over doorways) and encourage your guests to play pickup games while waiting for the real action to begin. Basketball-themed pom-poms, streamers and buttons are all fun party favors, too!
Don't Forget the Bracket!
There are a couple of ways you can go about this entertaining idea for your tournament party.
- Include the all-important bracket with invites. That way, guests can fill it out before the party if they want to.
- Draw a bracket on a chalkboard or poster board near the entryway. Then, have smaller copies to distribute to guests.
You now have seven entertaining ideas for your tournament party setup, menu and decor. Now it’s time to party! Send the kids outside with sidewalk chalk to decorate your driveway with a basketball-friendly motif — balls, baskets, cheering stick figure fans. You'll immediately set the mood for the best party of the month — even if you didn't do so well with your bracket picks.