How to Host a Smaller Super Bowl Party

Opt for quality over quantity this year.

This year's Super Bowl get-together will be a little smaller, but that doesn't mean it has to be any less exciting. With fewer people to feed, you may just find that you have enough extra in your party budget to elevate your game day cuisine. For a departure from the traditional festive fare, here is an upscale menu that you can make for just your nearest and dearest. Or, mix-and-match some of these luxury items and add them to your regular roster of Super Bowl dishes for a selection that's sure to make the event feel like a true celebration. Treat the big game like it's a lavish dinner party for a select few. You deserve it.

Cheese Fondue on a floral plate
Denise Sakaki

High-End Snacking

Get the party going with some appetizers that are much more inspired than chips and guac or a hot plate of wings (no disrespect). Crab cakes, while ever the crowd-pleaser, can be an expensive appetizer to serve for a crowd, which is why this year is the perfect time to take the plunge. You'll need about a pound of fresh crabmeat to serve a party no larger than four. Follow up this recipe for pitch-perfect crab cakes with simple grilled lamb chops — and there's no silverware needed for this elevated finger food. Like wings, you can eat them with your hands.

Instead of a cheese board for between-plays snacking, set up a fondue station. Melty cheese fondue, amplified by white wine and a hint of nutmeg, can be served with crusty bread for dipping, or crunchy fresh vegetables. It's the ultimate in elegance. And replace those traditional party chips with rosemary garlic parmesan crisps, which take no more than 20 minutes to make and are lovely to look at.

Roasted Pork Banh Mi on a white plate
Chef John

Sandwiches That Rise to the Occasion

Lobster rolls might feel like a decadent party food, but if you're only hosting a few people, they are a great way to combine indulgence with casual dining. This classic recipe for the sandwich — served Maine-style, with mayonnaise — fits the bill. If you're looking for a sandwich with a little spice (and a lot of aromatics), opt for the roasted pork banh mi, which is stuffed with thinly sliced pork roast, pate, and a bevy of pickled vegetables and herbs.

Skip the cold cuts this year and opt for beef on weck instead: sliced sirloin roast served atop kummelweck dinner rolls, finished with horseradish, and served alongside a beefy jus for dipping. If your game day requires fried food, try the firecracker shrimp roll with crab aioli. Two pounds of shrimp are soaked in a buttermilk brine, breaded, and fried, then served on soft sandwich rolls with a lump crab- and tarragon-based mayonnaise.

Apple Hand Pies on a green and white plate
debbie eckstein

Something Sweet

Cookies and brownies are great, but what about trying something more luxurious this game day? Crème brulee — a dessert made from baked custard and then topped with a layer of crunchy, charred sugar — is an individually portioned delight. Each guest can enjoy his or her own perfect serving. If you're in the mood for something with a little more chocolate (and maybe a drop or two of coffee), try the tiramisu chocolate mousse, a combination of two classic desserts that is presented elegantly in single-serving glasses.

For a tart pick-me-up, make these miniature lemon meringue pies — one for each person. Graham cracker crusts are piled high with homemade lemon curd and layers of airy meringue for a dessert that truly inspires. And instead of one large-format pie, consider these apple hand pies: apples, butter, cinnamon, and sugar come together in a perfect marriage of sweet and spice. Better news? You can hold one in one hand while you're cheering with the other.

Manhattan Cocktail on a table
Edie Gardiner Snyder

For the Toasting

Let's not leave out the last important element of the equation: what you'll be drinking. Beer, of course, is the quintessential Super Bowl beverage, and while you might want to have that on hand, too, there's no reason not to serve a specialty cocktail to honor the occasion. Instead of toasting your team's touchdown with a can of beer, try this Champagne cocktail: a sugar cube, bitters, and a lemon twist. For those who prefer a high-potency cocktail, test run the classic Manhattan, a blend of rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters that is guaranteed to step up your game day libation plan.

There is, of course, no classier cocktail than the classic martini. For a savory version, of this traditional vodka- or gin-based drink, try the pickletini, which adds salty pickle juice to the equation. If you're feeling particularly fancy — and have time in the kitchen to prepare before the big event — you can even make your own pickles. This recipe is a slightly spicy version that pairs exceptionally well with cold, high-quality vodka.

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