Even those of us with less-than-keen observational skills know that something really big is happening on Sunday. Hint: It has everyone stocking up on beer and cheesy poofs and (if you live in Seattle), wearing blue and green every chance possible.
Super Bowl XLVIV has many of us fluffing couch cushions and buffing TV screens in anticipation. If you are hosting the big game this year, we have some suggestions to keep the kids safely entertained while the bigger kids (like the one you may have married) yell at the huddled refs on TV as they argue over inches.
Get into the football spirit
Face paints. Grab some face paints in the team colors to let the kids gear up for the game in style. This year the Seahawks (blue and green) are playing the Broncos (orange and navy).
Let the kids decorate. Get out some pens or crayons in team colors, paper, scissors, glue sticks, a stapler etc.Pick an out-of-the-way table for the work zone and give them a specific area to decorate, perhaps around the food table, to keep the chaos contained.
Keep the kids busy
Craft table time. Add a few other options to the craft table. Free downloadable coloring pages are all over the internet for inspiration. We like these simple designs found on TwistyNoodle.com.
Origami flick football Super Bowl. Host your own flick football Super Bowl game! Kate Miller-Wilson at lovetoknow.com put together some easy-to-follow instructions and game rules.
Make pom-poms. Cut 12” strips of streamers or ribbons and staple them together at one end. Wrap the stapled end with duct or masking tape to protect little hands and create a handle. Leave as is, or attach to a paint stick (available free at the paint counter of any home improvement store.) Kids can mix and match colors and make a few extras for the adults. One note of caution -- the color in crepe paper streamers runs if it gets wet, use the metallic ones if you are worried about spills.
Games galore. Designate a game room in another part of the house. Put out a few choice board games for spontaneous play. If you have a game system like a Wii or a PS3 Move, sign the kids up for a tournament. Pick something easy-to-learn, like bowling, and set up brackets so each kid gets the same number of turns. You can pair kids up in teams. How you determine the match-up will depend on the ages and abilities of the kids involved. The idea is to give everyone equal play, with the order and duration predetermined to minimize whining. There’s probably enough of that coming from the grown-ups.
Indoor fun. Have a small football, yellow piece of cloth or some other small football-themed object on hand for a game of Find It! Start them off by helping the youngest kid hide the object somewhere in the house. Whoever finds it gets to hide it next. This can go on all day, with interest waxing and waning as the kids move from activity to activity. It’s a good idea to declare off-limit rooms at the get-go so you don’t have the neighbor kids going through that drawer in your bedroom.
Commercial play. For the more focused kids who want to hang out and watch the game, break out the Commercial Bingo. The folks at dltk-kids.com have free customizable cards to download, but you can certainly make your own. Instead of numbers, use the perennial commercials — cars, soft drinks, pizza, movie trailers etc. You can also play a football trivia game, using general questions about the sport, or get more specific to the day’s game. Keep the questions simple, things the kids can find out by watching, like “What color is the penalty flag?” or “Name the quarterbacks.”
Of course you need to keep everybody fed to avoid meltdowns. Raisins, crackers, grapes, and dry cereal are easy for kids to grab as they pass by the table, but that doesn’t mean they’ll eat them. Every parent knows that parties can be over-stimulating and kids often forget to eat. Make the food appealing by setting up stations where they can make their own
Nacho bar. Put out all the fixings and let them pile it on. Disposable pie plates make great single-serve dishes that guests can pop in the pre-heated oven, or better yet, a toaster oven located conveniently at the bar. Of course, small children will need help with the hot plates—put a teen or tween in charge.
Popcorn bar. Pop up a big bowl of plain popcorn and offer a variety of flavor shakers (available at most grocery stores and specialty food shops). Provide red plastic “keg” cups, a stack of small paper bags or small baskets lined with paper towels for guests to serve themselves. You can even put out a few bowls of add-ins like Peanut M&M’s, chopped dried fruit or honey roasted nuts.
Beverage bar. A Soda Stream station is always popular with kids, if you have one.The kids love to mix flavors—in sometimes questionable combinations. You can also freeze different flavored juices in ice trays, with or without fruit bits, and serve them with one or two juices, some soda water and maraschino cherries. Don’t forget the straws!
With a little planning everyone can have a good time. Just remember the cardinal rule of game-day etiquette: never, ever, walk in front of the TV during a play, or (gasp!) during that billion dollar commercial.
Emily Metcalfe Smith is an Edmonds mom, and ParentMap's former Out & About intern.
This article was originally written in 2012 and updated in 2014.