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Hosting a March Madness party can be a fun way to celebrate the college basketball tournament with your friends and family. My idea of fun is having lots of food options, using some party hacks, and taking the “madness” out of the day with some smart tips.
There are some incredible March Madness food deals, but if you’re hosting at home, a DIY project or two can save you some money. I’m talking about dressing up in your team’s sports gear, decorating your space with DIY basketball-themed items, and setting up furniture comfortably for your guests.
As a reminder, by downloading the Krazy Coupon Lady app, you’ll get alerts on your favorite deals. Use these ideas to throw the best (and affordable) March Madness party:
1. Use your Crock-Pot to cook two dips at once.
Impress your guests by using your Crock-Pot to whip up two dips at the same time. I know, mind blown. To do this, you’ll need to form heavy duty aluminum foil into a wall that fits across your Crock-Pot.
Then place a slow cooker liner to cover both halves and serve up your favorite two dips. Shop our slow cooker deals to upgrade your model.
2. Keep everyone entertained with a bracket challenge.
Encourage your guests to fill out a bracket and compete for prizes or bragging rights. Provide a large bracket board (if you’re up for it) where guests can see the standings throughout the tournament. Use a blank bracket from the NCAA.
3. Arrange a basketball scavenger hunt for the kids.
Create a game-watching scavenger hunt where guests have to find certain things on the TV screen during the game. For example, they may have to find a player with a specific jersey number or a certain type of play.
4. Turn a chip bag into a chip bowl.
Roll the top of an opened chip bag inwards for a cleaner-looking edge. Then, poke the bottom corners of the bag in so it stands on its own. Use chip coupons to save all year long.
5. Create a halftime show with a quick basketball game.
In between games, plan a fun halftime show with basketball-themed games and activities. You can set up a mini basketball hoop for your head or have guests compete in outdoor games like pop-a-shot, knockout, or a three-point shooting contest.
6. Buy alcohol at wholesale clubs without a membership.
That’s right—you don’t need a Costco or Sam’s Club membership to buy alcohol. It’s a special loophole that allows non-members to simply create an online guest account and make the purchases. Another way to save is to make it a BYOB party.
Learn more about wholesale buying at Costco and Sam’s Club without a membership card.
TIP: Most employees don’t even realize you can buy alcohol without a membership, so expect that they’ll need to check with a manager before you’ll be allowed to buy.
Related: 6 Things You Can Do at Costco Without a Membership
7. Use coupons on paper products to save money.
Find coupons, sales, and rebates for utensils, napkins, plates, or cups with the KCL app or website. Print or save manufacturer’s coupons before heading to the store. You can use a manufacturer’s coupon at almost any store like Walmart, Target, Walgreens, Rite Aid, CVS, and so on.
8. Serve game-day food in a DIY snack stadium.
Bring the stadium food to your dining room and forget the overpriced snacks. Serve classic game-day food like hot wings, nachos, sliders, and chips and dips. You can also ask your guests to bring their favorite snacks or dishes to share.
Create a DIY snack stadium out of cardboard boxes and fill it with all your favorite game-day snacks.
- 2-3 large cardboard boxes
- Scissors or box cutter
- Duct tape or packing tape
- Wrapping paper or paint (optional)
- Start by selecting the size of the cardboard boxes you want to use. You’ll need at least two large boxes to create the structure of the stadium.
- Cut off the top flaps of the boxes using scissors or a box cutter.
- Use a ruler to measure the length and width of the boxes. Cut the boxes in half lengthwise, so you have two long rectangular pieces.
- Begin to assemble the structure of the stadium by taping the cardboard pieces together, creating the four walls of the stadium. Use duct tape or packing tape to secure the edges and create a sturdy structure.
- Cut out small rectangular openings on the front of the stadium for each section. These sections will hold different snacks, so make sure the openings are large enough for bowls and plates to fit inside.
- Once you have created the basic structure of the stadium, cover it with wrapping paper or paint it to make it look more appealing. You can also decorate it with your favorite team’s colors and logos.
- Place bowls and plates of your favorite game-day snacks in each section of the stadium. You can fill each section with different snacks like chips, dips, pretzels, or popcorn.
- Arrange the snacks so that they are easy to reach and grab. You can also label each section with the name of the snack or a fun basketball-related pun.
9. Make cleaning up easy by covering your tables with kraft paper.
Use a Sharpie directly on your kraft paper tablecloth to label food. No more guessing what a dish is. Tear off an extra sheet for a kids table so that they can draw basketball-related pictures.
10. Create a basketball-themed photo booth.
Set up a basketball-themed photo booth with props like giant foam fingers, basketball hats, and team banners. You can even create a custom backdrop with your favorite team’s colors.
11. Use a salad spinner to evenly coat your wings.
If you’re out of clean bowls, use a salad spinner for perfectly coated chicken wings, whether it’s sauce or seasoning. Here’s how to do it:
- Cook your chicken wings according to your preferred method (baked, fried, or grilled).
- While the wings are cooking, prepare your sauce or seasoning in a bowl.
- Once the wings are cooked, use tongs to transfer them to the salad spinner basket.
- Pour the sauce or seasoning over the wings in the salad spinner basket.
- Close the lid of the salad spinner and spin the wings for a few seconds, until they are evenly coated with the sauce or seasoning. Open the lid and transfer the wings to a serving plate.
The salad spinner can be a less messy alternative to tossing the wings in a bowl with the sauce, which can lead to sticky fingers and a messy kitchen.
Related: 14 Ring Cleaning Hacks You Can Do Yourself with Household Items
12. Have a “sticky fingers station” if you’re serving messy wings.
After you toss those chicken wings in the salad spinner, keep wet wipes and paper towels in a designated place to avoid saucy, wing-finger messes. Of course, old-fashioned soap and water work, too.
13. Get basketball-themed goodie bags for popcorn.
Bring home the “madness” with orange goodie bags with black stripes. Guests can fill them with popcorn, chips, candy, or a combination of sweet or salty treats. As an alternative, use plain orange treat bags and a small bowl as a template for the basketball lines. Then you’re good to go.
14. Set up a popcorn snack bar to ease those tense sports moments.
To piggyback on treat bags, why not set up a popcorn bar? Arrange containers with different types of popcorn flavors and toppings like caramel, cheese, and chocolate. Whether you make your own or use a microwave, popcorn coupons are always helpful.
15. Beef up your tablescape with basketball-themed centerpieces.
Creating a basketball party table centerpiece can be a fun way to add to the festive atmosphere of your March Madness party. Here are some ideas for a basketball-themed centerpiece:
- Basketball centerpiece with flowers: Purchase a small basketball and cut off the top half. Insert a small vase or jar inside the basketball and fill it with flowers in your favorite team’s colors. You can also add a bow or ribbon in the team’s colors around the basketball.
- Mini basketball hoop centerpiece: Take a small basketball hoop and mount it to a wooden or plastic base. Fill the base with artificial turf or shredded green paper to mimic a basketball court. You can also add mini basketballs, figurines of basketball players, or team logos around the centerpiece.
- Basketball snack centerpiece: Fill a clear glass vase with mini basketballs or mini foam fingers in your favorite team’s colors. Surround the vase with bowls of popcorn, pretzels, or other game-day snacks. You can also add a label or sign to the centerpiece with a fun basketball pun or phrase.
- Basketball topiary centerpiece: Create a basketball topiary by covering a foam or styrofoam ball with orange tissue paper or paint. Insert a dowel or wooden skewer into the bottom of the ball and place it in a flowerpot or vase. You can also decorate the topiary with black lines to mimic a basketball.
16. Coat Oreos in candy melts for edible basketballs.
Get yourself some orange and black candy melts, Oreos, a small sandwich bag and scissors. After heating the orange candy melts, dip the Oreos in it one at a time, coating the entire cookie. Set in the fridge for 15-20 min. After that, heat up the black candy melts and pour into a sandwich bag. Cut a small hole in the corner of the bag and pipe basketball lines on the Oreos.
17. Put together a drool-worthy buffalo chicken dip.
Buffalo chicken dip is a delicious and easy-to-make dish that is perfect for any March Madness party. Here’s a simple recipe:
- 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup buffalo sauce
- 1/2 cup ranch dressing
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/4 cup sliced green onions (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large bowl, combine the shredded chicken, cream cheese, buffalo sauce, and ranch dressing. Mix well until all ingredients are combined.
- Add the shredded cheddar cheese to the mixture and stir until well combined.
- Pour the mixture into a 9×9 inch baking dish and spread it evenly.
- Bake the dip in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until it is heated through and the cheese is melted and bubbly.
- Sprinkle sliced green onions on top of the dip (optional) and serve immediately with tortilla chips, crackers, or vegetables.
Note: You can adjust the amount of buffalo sauce to your liking depending on how spicy you want the dip to be. You can also use leftover rotisserie chicken for this recipe to save time.
18. Use a Sharpie to turn oranges into treats for kids.
This simple and easy craft project can add some basketball-themed fun to snack time, and is a great way to get kids excited about healthy eating. Just make sure to use non-toxic Sharpie markers, and wash the oranges again before eating to remove any marker residue.
- Select fresh oranges that are firm and have smooth, unblemished skin.
- Wash the oranges thoroughly to remove any dirt or debris.
- Use a Sharpie marker to draw lines on the orange, creating the distinctive segments of a basketball. Start by drawing two vertical lines that divide the orange into four quarters. Then draw eight to 10 curved lines that connect the two vertical lines, creating the look of the segments.
- Add additional details to the orange using the Sharpie marker, such as a basketball logo or player’s number. Store them in a sports-themed pail.
19. Put cheese balls in a basketball-themed plastic cup for a slam drunk treat.
First, use a paint marker or white acrylic paint to draw a net on your plastic cup. Use our free backboard template and cut vertical slits inside the square to place it on the rim of the cup. Now, fill the cup with cheese balls!
20. Have a game-day trivia contest.
Bonus Ideas for your March Madness party:
- Host a basketball movie marathon: Play classic basketball movies like “Hoosiers,” “He Got Game,” and “Coach Carter.”
- In the spirit of March Madness, donate to a basketball-related charity like the USA Basketball Foundation.