how to SET UP A 5 MINUTE BIG GAME SPORTS BOOK AT HOME

How to Host a Big Game Sports Book at Home

Have you ever wanted to host a big game sports book at your own home? As a native Nevadan, I always like to add a little gambling to my football parties. I’m not sure why, exactly. There’s just something fun about losing three different bets immediately because somehow the Giants forced Tom Brady into a safety in the first drive of the game. Of course, you don’t have to gamble with money. Some people have it, some people don’t, you know which one you and your friends are. You can also gamble with drinks, food, pride, or you know, whatever else you can come up with. We personally choose money or beer, depending on who we’ve invited, but to each their own.

This year I’m not hosting a Super Bowl party, as I’m living in a tiny, dark rental house for one more month. But, my friends did ask me to bring some Vegas type games with me. Since I don’t have to cook, I should have plenty of time – oh wait! I’m a frenzied hostess! It’s tax season and I’m a bookkeeper. I have NO time for anything (including this – which is why it’s late this week!). But, I said I’d do it, so here we go. Enjoy my ideas for making your own big games sports book, and please, don’t feel like it should take all day.

Big Game Sports Book Ideas

Are they a little crazy looking? Sure, but see what I have to work around?

1. Super Squares

If you’ve ever had coworkers, been to a restaurant with TVs in January, or casually glanced at game day ideas, you’ve seen these before. You won’t see them in a Las Vegas sports book, but they’re still fun and easy to get people’s toes wet in the gambling arena. I’m not going to go through the whole process – the folks over at Super Bowl Squares have that covered. Follow those instructions. Now, here’s my input: Get some poster board, don’t waste your time measuring squares because no one cares about that, and then tape it to a wall in an obvious place. You should also have some squares filled out beforehand so people get interested. Yes, you do have to pony up if you place the bets. Then direct your first couple of guests right to that big beautiful grid and get the game going.

2. Prop Bets

I took an extra two seconds per football. Fancy!

Prop bets are my absolute favorite. They are the reason I somehow managed to lose all those bets at once back in 2012. They’re basically just random things you can bet on, like what color Gatorade will get dumped on the winning coach or how long the national anthem will last. Here’s a good list of bets for 2017 specifically, but you could update this each year, minus perhaps the entertainment ones. I would not choose too many. It would get confusing, because you are not actually a sports book. Instead, pick about five, making sure to pick some from both game and non-game related bets. Then throw them on another poster board and have the bettors write their answers on it.

One other little addition I might add this year is to set up a couple of bets about the guests. Not everyone there is going to be a football fan, so to keep them entertained, I thought it might be fun to make some prop bets like “Who will start the backyard football game?” and “Who will cry at a commercial?” If you have big drinker friends, you can incorporate that as well. Since this is your own private big game sports book, you might as well involve everyone.

3. Who Will Win?

Okay friends, you should be doing this even if you aren’t going to make a big game sports book. Why wouldn’t you bet on who’s going to win? Now, there are a couple ways of going about this. The easiest, obviously, is to simply pick who’s going to win. I typically don’t collect any money for this, but when I have guests they write their name on a slip of paper and put it in a bowl dedicated to the team they think is going to win. Once the game is over I pull out a name out from the winner’s side and they get a prize. You could actually collect money and split it between winners; I would give them all something the color of their team, like a pin or beads, to prove they won.

4. Vegas Style

On the other hand, you could get crazy and go real sports book style. Here’s a link to the current odds. I can’t advise you to actually pay out on those odds, unless you’re a rich person, in which case you may want to consider something other than poster board for your sports book. I can tell you what those numbers mean. The line is pretty easy. According to that site, New England is favored by 3, which is the -3 you’re seeing.  Basically you bet on the Patriots if you think they’ll win by 3 or more. You pick Atlanta if you think they’ll win, or even if they’ll lose by less than 3 points. It’s not much of a spread, so good luck with this one.

The other fun part of trying to plan a big game sports book  is taking bets on the over/under. Usually the over/under is what Vegas thinks both teams are going to score combined. In this case, it’s 58 points. Fifty-eight! That’s a high scoring game they’re suggesting. The good news is, the betting part is much easier than the scoring. Do you think there will be more or less than 58 points scored during the game?  You can write down people’s bets for this if you want, or have people put their names down somewhere, or whatever you want. Again, I wouldn’t suggest you spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to pay like the sports book would. I’d just settle on a wager from the beginning; perhaps pair over bettors with under bettors and let them choose their own terms.

Well, that’s about it! Enjoy your big game sports book, and don’t forget your amazing bookie visor! 🙂

 

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Fun and Easy Cookoffs and Mixology Competitions

One of my favorite hosting tasks is cookoffs or mixology competitions. You know why, right? Because I don’t have to do all the work. I only have to provide a space and my own little entries. Even the cleaning takes care of itself, since most guests will bring their own dishes or something disposable. It’s also a fun way to get rid of things you have too much of. For example, the whiskey my husband drinks kept trying to push honey whiskey on us by attaching mini-liquor bottles to what we wanted. We built up quite the collection. What we were going to do with that? Drink it? No. We were going to have a competition instead. Here’s how to do it:

Pick an Easy Theme

Don’t ask your guests to do anything too specific unless you know they have all the ingredients, or you’re going to purchase everything for them. If someone invites me to an eggroll cook-off, I might go, or I might just order Asian and watch TV on my couch. Of course, if you’re only going to invite professional chefs, go ahead and call for that Top Chef Quickfire challenge game. Who am I to stop you? I’ve held appetizer competitions, chili cook-offs, and martini and hors do’oerves pairings to name a few themes. Those are both pretty broad. Even your non-cooking friends can probably whip up a dip or something.

Keep the Guest List Manageable

I keep these really small. I don’t have a lot of time to make up fancy invitations, figure out which group of friends would be best for this, or figure out some miraculous time when none of my intended guests have anything planned. This way I can do it on the fly. Now, if you and your friends are childless, mostly childless, and/or all work Mon-Fri, 9-5, that’s a different situation. In that case, you could easily turn this into a big shindig. But what I really like about keeping it small is if I see an opening one weekend, I can easily dial up a friend or two and act like I’m having a fancy theme party, when what I’m really having is a potluck.

Have the Right Equipment for Cook-offs or Mixology Competitions

What theme did you go with? Was it anything to do with mixed drinks? If so, you need the right bar equipment. It’s perfectly reasonable to expect your guests to bring pre-made food, but should they really be mixing a drink before they get to your house? Probably not, unless you like all your drinks served warm and/or watered down. My husband picked up this set when he was in a mixologist phase, and it hasn’t steered us wrong. It’s got everything your basic drink needs, plus it doesn’t take up too much room.

This should probably go without saying, but folks, also make sure your microwave is working if you want people to bring over precooked food. If you’re okay with being a little environmentally unfriendly, I’d also go ahead and get some paper plates and cups. It’s going to make cleanup so much easier. I do reuse mine for each entry, if that makes you environmentalists feel any better.

To Judge or Not to Judge?

I’m calling these cook-offs and mixology competitions, but I’ll be honest here – we don’t actually judge anything at my house. We say we’re going to, and we certainly all have our favorites, but no one is competitive enough to need to declare a winner. Scratch that. We’re all too competitive – it’s quite possible we’d battle to the death to win. This is all about fun! You know your guests better than I do. Designate a judge if you want, or just spend the day patting each other on the back for your creativity.

That’s about it. This is such an easy way to entertain! It’s almost like tricking people into believing you’re them a party, when really they’re doing just as much work as you are. This actually seems so easy, I feel like sharing a little recipe from my honey whiskey competition I mentioned at the beginning. Here’s the “winner” we selected – long after the party was over, of course, when I asked which one I should post. Thanks to my sister, the trained bartender, for concocting this one. It’s based on this amazing appetizer recipe we like, so feel free to serve with bacon!

Honey Whiskey Pear Drink

drink from mixology competitions

1 part pear liqueur
2 parts honey whiskey
2 parts Sprite or Club Soda
Thyme
Pepper

  1. Pour pear liqueur, honey whiskey, a sprig of thyme, and soda into shaker.
  2. Fill shaker with ice (3/4) of the way full, add top and strainer, shake.
  3. Pour drink through strainer to glass; add pepper to taste.
  4. Enjoy!