soccer celebration

Soccer, or football, is now gaining the popularity in the US that it enjoys in the rest of the world. With FIFA fever on the rise, more soccer watching parties are in the planning. Oddsmakers are betting France will be able to repeat its breathtaking 2018 World Cup win, but the Netherlands looks to be an up-and-comer. Even if you aren’t a fan of World Cup qualifiers, you can always find games with Premiere League, Liga MX and US Soccer. If you’re planning a watching party for the FIFA qualifiers or another soccer match, here are three tips to make sure everyone at your party has an awesome but safe time.

Plan For Responsible Alcohol Consumption

Avoid a worst-case scenario where your friends are researching DUI lawyers in Seattle, or your next plans are for a funeral. Planning a party means just that, planning. First, make sure you have plenty of food. Eating helps slow down the body’s processing of alcohol so guests can enjoy a drink without getting overly intoxicated. Make sure you’ve got a wide offering of non-alcoholic drinks on offer. Even consider putting all the liquor away after halftime. Ask your guests to plan ahead as well. Does everyone have a designated driver or backup plan for a ride home?

Next, decide what you’ll do if someone drinks too much. Do you have a spare room that can be kept ready? Set aside a few dollars to pay for a rideshare if your guest can’t afford one. And once everyone is enjoying the game, keep an eye on your guests so you’ll be aware of when you might need to offer a bed or ride.

Theme Your Party

As long as you’re providing the food, use it as an opportunity to take your party to the next level. While your neighbors probably won’t appreciate a repeat of the South African 2010 World Cup vuvuzelas, you could certainly whip up a dish to represent the competing teams. Celebrate Real Madrid with a traditional callos stew, or a shepherd’s pie while you watch Man U take down Liverpool. For World Cup qualifiers and tournament matches try splitting your friends into teams so everyone is invested in watching. Little flags or silly hats in the country’s or team’s colors are a quick, fun way to get everyone in on the action. Even cocktails in team colors or drinks you associate with a particular country can be a lot of fun. Brazil is a team sure to come up over and over during the tournament, so practice your caipirinha.

Organize Side Activities

The sad truth is not all of your guests will necessarily be excited about the game. If free food and drink aren’t enough to lure your unsuspecting friends into their first soccer match, make sure there’s something that might grab them. Try setting up betting squares for each half, just like you would for football squares. Prop bets are another fun way to get people involved in the game who might not otherwise care. While bets for cash are always exciting, if you want to keep it less expensive for your guests, invest in some prizes. Prop bets include things like which player will score first, who will get the first yellow card, a particular player scoring off a header, or which player will score a free kick. The list is only limited by your imagination. If you don’t know much about the players and who is likely to do what, take a look at the Vegas oddsmakers and the prop bets they are offering for a game.

Finally, remember that if there are children, you’ll want to plan some activities for them as well. If you’ve got the space this could mean their own soccer game. If not, consider a piñata with items that represent the countries or teams playing.

You can’t make everyone love soccer, but you can make everyone love a soccer viewing party. With a little planning your guests will have a safe and amazing time.