Phyllis Cambria and Patty Sachs

The following plans are arranged into categories to help those hosts who are arranging either a last-minute gathering or who have weeks or months to plan the party.

Pick and choose elements from any of the plans to customize a party which best suits your style, budget and timeframe to create a singularly spectacular special event.

Follow the suggestions in these party plans and your gathering's success will be a slam dunk.


When the big game is going to be held that week and you want to host a last-minute gathering to cheer on the home team, here are some quick ways to make your spontaneous celebration even more fun and festive.

• Phone or e-mail guests to watch the game at your "arena."

• Decorate your space with all forms of basketball regalia – hang jerseys, hoops, posters, and pennants, and make displays of basketballs, basketball shoes and other equipment to add to your arena atmosphere.


• When there are several games going on at the same time or there are a lot of guests, you won't want to provide them with binoculars to see the game. It's better to rent or borrow extra television sets for easy viewing. Your star guests can then bounce along at your sports bar soiree.

• Rent a few basketball-related movies (White Men Can't Jump, One on One, Hoosiers or That Championship Season) and set up a club lounge area for those folks who aren't that interested in the game but still want to shoot and score at your party.

• Cover your buffet with a cloth that matches the home team's colors.
• Pick up a pack of basketball-themed paper party goods or choose the home team's colors.

• Take instant photos of your guests as they're cheering their team on and give them as a lasting reminder of your winning event.


If you have a week or more to plan your party, here are some ideas to add to the "Impromptu Party Plan" above to make the day even more special.

• Phone or send a formal basketball party invitation via an e-mail card service.
• Make a “save this date” call or e-mail to your guests. Then use your computer to make up invitations in the form of a ticket to the game complete with all of your party information and basketball clip-art or stickers. Send them promptly by snail mail to get the party off to a jumpstart.

• Liven up your space with a collection of basketball-themed balloons.
• Cover chair backs with team shirts and jackets to further set the scene.

• During the pre-game party, halftime show or when the action is slow, test your guests' skills by having them toss a regulation or small b-ball through a regulation or hula hoop.
• Award the "Best Couch Coach" with a "Best Coach" trophy.
• Play a trivia game about the careers of b-ball legends Michael Jordan, Shaq, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and other greats. Include questions about your home team.

• Stuff sets of flatware and a napkin into a new, white tube sock for a grab-and-go packet so your guests won't miss a play.
• Get the kids involved by having them hawk snacks from a tray suspended around their necks, concession-style.
• For a table decoration, fill a popcorn box with team-colored flowers or a set of pom-poms set into floral foam.

• A regulation or toy basketball
• Hand-held electronic basketball games for your trivia winners
• Instant photos of your guests in basketball-themed frames.
• Bobble heads with guests photos

HOST WITH THE MOST (time, that is)

When you have weeks or months to plan ahead for the big game, here are more ideas you can supplement to those listed above for a party that will put you in the "Hosts Hall of Fame."

• Here’s an invitation that will make your guests mouths water.
• Print your invitation on brown construction paper.
• Cut, roll and tape into a hot dog shape.
• Stuff inside a real hot dog bun.
• Wrap in tin foil.
• Add packets of ketchup and mustard.
• Mail in an appropriately-sized box.
• Encourage guests to come dressed in their favorite team attire for a "Best-Dressed Fan" contest.
• Cut out a picture of a folding chair from a magazine or catalog. Make photo copies and mark them "Your court-side seat awaits" and include your invitation information.

• If you have a hoop in your driveway or yard and the weather is nice, hold the party outdoors on your own "court."
• For a really important game or a very large party, rent or borrow a large screen TV for the event.
• For outdoor gatherings, place your arena under a rented tent to be prepared for inclement weather.
• The party hosts should dress in basketball, referee and/or cheerleader attire to add to the atmosphere.
• Light up night games with basketball-shaped novelty lights.
• Set up folding chairs so guests can really feel as if they're sitting at courtside while viewing the game.

• Instead of everyone watching the half-time show, air a copy of a basketball bloopers video.
• For guests more interested in fun than the game, have them improvise their own half-time show with music, cheerleaders and all.
• Log onto so fans can catch up on other competitions or play the "dream team" games found on those sites.

• Get them out of their seats during the half-time show, pre-game interviews or post-game activities with a pick-up game. And, with small, foam basketballs and a small hoop, you'll be able to toss the ball around almost anywhere, indoors or out.
• Assign a team to each guest (no matter for whom they are rooting) and whosever team is ahead at the end of each quarter wins a prize.
• Set up a friendly b-ball pool with prizes for guessing the number of baskets produced by the team's star player for the half and final scores.

• Set a piece of wood-grained paneling, cut to size, on your buffet table and trim with colored tape to resemble a basketball court.
• Hang your napkins from a child-sized basketball hoop. Place a small tent card near them reading “Remember, excessive dribbling is not allowed.”
• Blow a sports whistle to tell your guests that your concession spread is open.
• If you can't find paper goods imprinted with your team's logo, here's a way you can still honor your favorite squad. Affix stickers or cutouts of your team's logo on a team-colored paper plate. Cover the decorated plate with a clear plastic plate for "servings with spirit."
• Punch holes into the top of an old basketball and fill with pom-poms or flowers for a centerpiece they'll jump at. You also could arrange pom-poms and/or pennants inside a basketball shoe filled with floral foam.

• Local high school, college or professional basketball game tickets
• Pom-poms and pennants
• Silver whistles with the event name and date painted or imprinted on them
• Team banners, posters or t-shirts
• Sports memorabilia or publicity shots signed by players (available at specialty stores and online auctions)
• Videos or DVDs of classic basketball movies
• Gift certificates to a favorite sports bar


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