Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this week we have two great party events, so make your preparations. Okay, technically the Super Bowl is next week, but party prep has to be done this week, so I am counting it. So, to be sure your party is a big success, you should probably consider which one of these events better matches the style of party you want to host. To help you out, let us look at some of the differences between a Super Bowl shindig and a State of the Union soiree.
First, have a look at attire. At a SOTU party, you get bonus points for a Windsor knot. At a Super Bowl party, the only thing that should be knotted are the pretzels.
To be well dressed at a SOTU party, look to what the audience at the event wears. Suits for most of the men and some of the women, conservative dresses for the rest of the women and a few of the men. Robes for the Supreme Court justices, but that does not mean to go looking through your closets for that Harry Potter costume from three Halloweens ago. For the party, follow tradition Suit and tie or conservative dress, no décolletage, please. You should also be able to pull off dress pants and a blazer. If you want to be really daring, see if you can get away with khakis and a sweater vest.
For the Super Bowl party, most of the crowd at the stadium will be looking like Eskimos. Since most parties will be taking place inside, this is probably not necessary. Wear a comfortable pair of jeans with a nice polo or t-shirt, even better if you can wear a football jersey over the polo. Do not go out and purchase any special attire to commemorate the event or of either of the participating teams. If you are a fan of either the Broncos or the Seahawks, of course dress in your team colors. If you support another franchise, too bad. Your team sucks and is not playing in the Super Bowl, so leave your Cleveland Browns shirt at home. If you want to be really daring, see if you can get away with khakis and a sweater vest.
Next, food choices. If you are at a SOTU party, expect to see some brie and water crackers. Yes, I realize that you are not a big fan of brie and water crackers. In reality, nobody is a fan of brie and water crackers, but we are trying to set a certain ambiance here, and that ambiance requires brie and water crackers. Also appropriate for this type of get together would be a vegetable tray, and maybe some shrimp cocktails. Remember, boring but serviceable. The food should be there for a quick nosh, but not tasty enough to distract you from the conversation. You are there for the speech, not the munchies, so eat before you arrive.
At a Super Bowl party, the food is a big part of the socializing. All manner of chips (potato, corn, tortilla) and dips (onion, queso, salsa) and similar items (pretzels, peanuts) should be available. There can be more substantial items too, such as sandwich platters and Buffalo wings. Pizzas are always nice. It is also possible to go a bit non-traditional, by providing quesadillas or egg rolls. The point is, you should be looking at having a lot of food with a large variety.
One final note on food- bacon is always appropriate no matter what the occasion (with the possible exception of a bar mitzvah or bris.)
Liquid refreshment- that would be the drinks. For the State of the Union, a nice red wine. I would suggest a good cabernet. You may serve a nice bourbon or other American whiskey, but please avoid the scotch- this is the POTUS talking to the United States Congress, so even if a good deal of the speech is spent discussing foreign policy and immigration, keep the booze domestic and protect our borders. (Of course, a martini is a timeless classic appropriate for any occasion.)
For the Super Bowl, lets have a beer. Let's have another one. Once again, celebrate your country by keeping it domestic. The big breweries will do a lot to entertain you during the commercial breaks, so don't feel ashamed to support them, but don't feel beholden. It is perfectly fine to purchase a local or regional brand. Please remember that your guests are there to enjoy the football game, so this might not be the time to introduce them to the craft rutabaga infused pale ale that you discovered while antiquing last June. Good old, regular lagers and pilsners, please. And nothing that says "Light" or "lite" or "ultra" or gives any other indication that caloric intake was in any way a consideration in the brewing. Those items are not really beer. Also, have soft drinks available for any designated drivers or youth in attendance, but not Gatorade. You aren't actually playing, Skippy, so your electrolyte levels are fine. You should try to avoid mixed drinks and hard liquor. Drinking should be part of the socializing aspect of gathering for the game, and you want to have something that you can swill if the occasion calls for it. (Of course, a martini is a timeless classic appropriate for any occasion.)
Activities. Yes, for a SOTU party you are there to watch an event, but speeches can get to be really boring. Try to liven things up. Here are some suggestions:
Teleprompter Pong- Every time the president turns to read from the left teleprompter, the guys in the room say "PING." When he turns his head to read from the right teleprompter, the gals say "PONG."
Have a pool to see who comes closest to guessing the number of times the president asks permission to "be perfectly clear." The Las Vegas books have been extremely derelict in their duties in setting the Over/Under for this phrase to pop up in the speech, so I am going to set it at 5.
When the president says, "Let me be perfectly clear," the whole room should call out "Permission granted," (or "permission denied" depending on the type of people your parties attract.)
When he says "Sebelius" respond "Sebelius? Damn near killed us!"
If he says the word "energy," everybody chug a Red Bull.
When you hear the word 'inequality," ask somebody that earns more than you to give you a dollar, then tell somebody who earns less than you to get lost.
At the words "climate change," take off your jacket. When he says "global warming," put your jacket back on.
Looking for additional activities to make the Super Bowl more fun? Las Vegas has you covered. Personally, I don't believe in gambling, but I bet most of you already have wagers on the game. But why stop there? That's right people, you can gamble on just about anything related to the Super Bowl. What team will win the coin toss? Over/Under of total points scored. Who will score first? Will the first score be a TD, field goal, safety or extra point. (Bit of free advice, don't take extra point in that one- it's burned me way too many times.) Who will get the first first down. Who will win the MVP. Will any of the players get treated for frostbite? Which coach will throw the challenge flag first. Will the Budweiser Clydesdale commercial feature a pony?
I hope that this article has been helpful in your decision on whether to host get together for the State of the Union or the Super Bowl. Feel free to expand on these ideas, and leave suggestions in the comments.