The leaves go from green to gold, the summer breeze turns a bit brisk and, of course, the sweet smells of pigskin and artificial turf permeate the air. It all points to one thing — autumn is in full swing and football, the reason for this season, is on everyone’s minds and televisions.

Take the excitement from the big screen to the living room by rounding up friends and family for game day at your house. If you’ve got a TV for the watching and couches for the sitting, the rest is a cinch. No need to splurge on ordered-in junk food. Just follow the game plan below to host an fun and frugal football fiesta.

BYOD (Bring Your Own Dip)

Needless to say, potlucks are instant money-savers when it comes to throwing a party. Instead of shelling out your money to provide for a party’s worth of hungry guests, split up the expenses and offer a smorgasbord of dips brought from everyone’s homes.

Supply the chips, veggies and crackers, and in turn, have your invitees bring a dip of choice. From queso to salsa French onion to chili to ranch to bean dips to spinach-and-artichoke, your crew won’t get bored with the selection. Your only duty? Double-dip patrol. (A nearby stack of paper plates and plastic spoons tend to fend off the double dippers.)

Personalization Station

You’ve got the chips. You’ve got the dips. You’ve even fired up the grill for a batch of hot dogs and hamburgers (check your grocery’s in-store savings and discounts for the best deal on meats and buns ahead of time). Give your guests something else to cheer about by setting up a self-service station to customize their eats.

Instead of trashing your fast food condiment packets, start saving them and organize them in a decorative bowl for the party. Don’t forget to set out the sliced tomatoes, pickles, lettuce, onions and relish too.

Go by the Game

Rather than putting all of your food on the table at once, keep your guests’ tummies happy throughout the game by bringing out a new plate by the quarter.

For the first quarter, go for easy-to-grab finger foods, like chips/dips and trail mix. When the second quarter rolls around, bring out the appetizers-on-a-toothpick (go online for an unlimited supply of cool ideas). Whip out the heavy-duty entrees at the third quarter, and save dessert for the final quarter.

No matter the quarter, opt for homemade eats instead of ordering in. You’ll wind up saving money and having control over what you and your friends consume.

Whatever  your strategy, the cardinal rule for saving money on a game-day get-together is to plan, plan, plan. By knowing what to serve and what deals you can score at the store in advance, you’ll be better equipped for a winning party.

This post is linked to Frugal Friday at Life as Mom.

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