Election Night only comes once every four years, so celebrate it with flair! Here are five suggestions to host a perfect election return viewing party:
1. Get a television and get comfortable
In 2008, more than 71 million Americans tuned in to watch election night coverage according to Nielsen. More than 13 million people watched ABC, and NBC and CNN both pulled in 12 million viewers. An election night party needs a quality television and someone to arbitrate the remote control. Center the television where everyone can see it. With politics being such a touchy subject, make sure everyone agrees upon the station you watch. Keeping the volume at a reasonable level for conversation as well as listening makes for a fun, political atmosphere.
2. Federalize food
Elections are stressful times. Indulge in American classics while celebrating civic duty. Hamburgers and “freedom” fries are a perfect beginning to a night of democratic delicacies. A red, white and blue dessert like the firecracker cheesecake is a great addition to the night. Alternately, all-American snack foods like potato chips and chocolate-chip cookies are sure to be a hit. Don’t worry about your waistline; worry about the fate of the country.
3. Game the system
Watching pundits speculate about who will win which state, how one candidate feels about one issue or when the next polls will close can become tedious. Break up the monotony with fun, political games and interactive events! Marking a map of the United States with each state’s result can be creative and enjoyable, adding a sense of competition to the night. For the adventurous, placing bets on how battleground states will vote could end up padding someone’s wallet at the end of the night.
Put yourself in the candidates’ shoes. Plot out which states are needed to win the coveted 270 electoral votes. Helpful, interactive websites like the New York Times’ “512 Paths to the White House” can provide a starting point and create great conversation. Politically savvy guests will enjoy being able to discuss the possibilities of their candidate winning a certain state and how that affects the rest of the election.
5. Be Civil
Political discussion can get heated quickly, especially when all guests do not agree on a candidate or key issue. Guests should stay calm and collected. There will be cheering, groaning and possibly outbursts of yelling at the television, but keep things on a respectful level. Remind guests not to ask whom each other voted for, and only to volunteer such information if they are willing to be questioned about it. A bit of jibing the other party is acceptable, but recognize when things get out of hand.
An election return viewing party is the best way to embrace collective civic duty and enjoy the political process with friends.