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Slam-Dunk Party

Three weeks of tournaments gives you plenty of opportunity to catch a serious case of March Madness.

This year, ditch the crowded bar scene and in favor of hosting a March Madness party at home. There’s no better way to celebrate this annual championship than from the comfort of your couch in the company of friends. Your first step is to pick the perfect day. There’s plenty to choose from, so check out the game schedule here and get your party started!

Food and Snacks. High-energy games like these make for ravenous guests. Rather than spending all day in the kitchen cooking, try recipes that can be made ahead of time, so you can nosh with your visitors come game time. Chips, dips and finger foods are obviously a must. Another recipe that you can make the night before are these super-adorable b-ball cupcakes from the undisputed champion of home-entertaining, Martha Stewart. Expect a high number of interceptions when passing a plate of these!

If you or an attendee is trying to get in game form, swap out a creamy dip for healthier homemade hummus. The chickpeas are high in fiber and will satisfy any hungry tummy. We found inspiration and plenty of easy (and good for you) five-minute recipes at Real Simple. Serve any of these can’t-miss spreads with whole grain tortilla chips or better yet, toasted whole wheat pita triangles.

Cocktails and Drinks. Several thirsty sports fans will be living it up in your living room during the NCAA tournament. While you should definitely stock your fridge with ice-cold soda, water and brews, you can also mix up something a bit more creative with this easy to make (and easy to sip) punch created by Clinton Kelly:

SLAM DUNK PUNCH 2 cup tequila 1 cup orange liqueur ½ gallon orange sherbet 2 liter ginger ale 6 oz frozen orange juice (optional) Orange slices for garnish

Place sherbet and (optional) frozen orange juice concentrate in a punch bowl. Let thaw for 10-15 minutes

Stir in ginger ale, tequila and orange liqueur

An orange slice garnish is the perfect way to celebrate sweet victory!

Decor.  If you're rooting for your home team, deck your digs from top-to–bottom in school colors and let the cheering begin. If you’re entertaining a more mixed crowd, opt for colored plates and napkins and let your guests declare their allegiance. Make sure you’ve got plenty of seating for your spirited crowd--if you don’t think you have enough sofa space, scatter throw pillows about the room (bonus points for team colors). You may also want to plug in an extra TV or laptop to watch multiple games to really up the excitement level!

Entertainment. Time-outs and halftime leave plenty of extra moments to hoop it up. Impress your guests by brushing up your college basketball knowledge and putting together a NCAA trivia game, preferably related to the teams playing during your party. Not a b-ball facts whiz? As guests arrive, have them estimate half-time and final scores. The people with the closest guesses win a prize.

You can also set up a mini-hoop over your trash can to encourage your friends to throw away their scraps. This way, they’ll have some fun, and you’ll save yourself the trouble of cleaning up once the game is over!