NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- Super Bowl parties are an American tradition, uniting football fanatics and those just in it for the chicken wings and commercials, but if you're hosting this year, the excitement of game day may be dimmed by anxiety over how to entertain your rowdy guests without overspending.After all, no matter how many times you say "BYOB," appetizers, beer, cups, plates and other party essentials can add up quickly, especially with a large group. To find out ways to keep costs down without skimping, we spoke to a few savvy deal and food experts. As an extra challenge, we set the total party budget at $100 or less for a guest list of about 10 people.
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No need to spend a dime when announcing your Super Bowl bash -- simply send out a free invitation using Evite or Facebook to inform your fellow revelers of the details. Both come with RSVP features, so you'll know how many people to expect. And don't be afraid to ask guests to bring something to help keep costs down. "Planning a party under $100 can be done as long as you plan ahead, and it's best to get guests involved," says Andrea Woroch, a consumer and money-saving expert for Kinoli, the company behind freeshipping.org and a variety of other Web sites that help consumers save money while shopping online. "You might request that attendees bring along a finger food, or their favorite beer, liquor or wine."
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While the football game may be the main focus of your party, you can be sure guests will come with appetites a-blazin'. Before serving hot appetizers, it's best to kick the party off with some easy snacks. For starters, buy a few bags of munchies, such as pretzels and potato chips -- but cut costs by buying generic labels rather than the big-name brands. Veggie platters are another great snack to serve early on in the game, and they don't have to be pricey if you assemble them yourself. "Avoid the temptation to buy a pre-packaged tray of veggies -- you're only paying for convenience and presentation," Woroch says. "Instead, pick up a few fresh items that are easy to prepare, such as carrots and celery, and arrange them around a bowl of dip." As far as the dip goes, you can often find a generic ranch dressing for less than $2. Prices at my local grocery store:
1 bag of mini pretzels (generic, 16 oz.): $1
1 bag of potato chips (generic, 18 oz.): $2.79
1 bag of baby carrots (generic, 32. oz.): $2.49
1 bunch of fresh celery: $1.49
1 bunch of fresh broccoli: $2
1 zucchini (9 oz.): $1.40
1 bottle of ranch dressing (generic, 16 oz.): $1.67