Host a Memorable March Madness Party

Unique Party Ideas: Decor, Food, Games & More! 

March Madness is the highlight of the year for college basketball fans, and an exciting time for “hosts with the most” that love to throw a good parTAY! Gather all your friends and family to watch together, eat some fan food, and have a blast with some friendly competition. Check out our ideas below for everything you need for a slam dunk party! (Pro Tip: Take some of the planning pressure off by hosting a March Madness potluck – use free online SignUps to help organize and boost turnout.)

Spring Carnival Planning Tips & Ideas

March Madness Explained

March Madness Decoration Ideas

March Madness Food Ideas

March Madness Games & Activities

What is March Madness?

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) hosts tournaments for the Men's and Women’s Basketball teams (eg. March Madness) every March and April. Each tournament features 60+ college basketball teams from across the U.S. 

As the tournaments progress and the losing teams are forced to bow out, the remaining teams are celebrated as the Sweet Sixteen (semifinalists), the Elite Eight (regional champs), and then the Final Four (the culmination of the tournament in which the four remaining teams go head-to-head to be crowned the NCAA Basketball National Champion).

Whether you’re celebrating the men’s or women’s tournament, your fave team, the Sweet Sixteen, the Elite Eight, or the Final Four – March Madness is the perfect excuse to throw a bash (or 2 or 3) for your sports-fan friends. Here’s hoping your team makes it to the finals!

Creative March Madness Decoration Ideas

Have fun with your basketball-themed decor for your March Madness get-together – here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing. 

March Madness party SignUp

Basketball Net Food Trays: Use cheap basketball nets, cardboard cake servers, and plastic party cups or vases to make these cute food trays for serving up appetizers or pizza.

Deck the Halls and Furniture (and You!): Decorate with basketball balloons, hang streamers that are the colors of your favorite team, use basketball jerseys of your team as covers for chair backs, and be sure to decorate yourself in the same manner!

DIY Tabletop Court: Use basketball court floor decals or black electrical tape to create a court on your table, or use cardboard or a plastic table cloth on top of your table if you’re concerned about damage to your furniture.

Mason Jar Basketballs: Using orange enamel glass paint (or chalk paint) and a sharpie, turn mason jars into basketballs. Use them to hold utensils or straws, or serve up drinks in them.

Photo Op: Hang mini basketball hoops on a wall to be used as a photo backdrop. Provide props like hats, jerseys, foam fingers, and (of course) basketballs for unique pictures your guests will be sure to share.

ScoreboardA chalkboard or whiteboard makes the perfect DIY scoreboard – update the score throughout the game.

Sweatband Bottle Koozies: Provide wrist sweatbands to use as koozies on water and beer bottles.

Table Decor: Decorate tables with pompoms in your team’s colors, the team’s logo, or your own homemade centerpieces.You can also use basketball-themed tablecloths and/or placemats.

Unique March Madness Food Ideas

Easy-to-eat finger foods are ideal for game watching while eating, as well as for minimizing clean up. You’ve got the tried and true basics covered, but why not add a little “madness” to your treats and eats for an extra layer of fun? Here are some simple basketball-themed snacks you can serve up:

  • Basketball bun sliders: To make the buns look like basketballs, use a black food coloring pen.

  • Basketball fruit. Dip strawberries in orange candy melts, then use melted chocolate chips in an icing bag to “draw” on the lines of the ball.

  • Basketball pizza: Create the basketball lines with olives or strips of pepperoni.

  • Hoop cups: You’ll definitely score points with your younger guests with this snack!

  • Mini basketball oranges: Simply use a Sharpie to draw on the basketball stripes.

  • Slam dunk veggies: Serve up carrots, celery, and other dunkable treats with dipping sauces

Get super creative and try to match up what you’re serving with the team you’re rooting for or against, such as:

  • Cheering on the Seton Hall Pirates? Try these pirate ship sandwiches.

  • Buffalo Bulls fans? Serve up buffalo wings with blue and red Ranch dips. (Simply add blue and red food coloring!)

  • Rooting for the DePaul Blue Demons? Offer partygoers Chicago dogs.

  • Duke Blue Devils supporters? Make these spicy devil’s food cupcakes in blue.

  • Born and bred in the Hoosier state? Get back to your roots with PB burgers.

  • Your team is going up against the Arkansas Razorbacks? Serve pulled pork sandwiches.

  • Hoping the TCU Horned Frogs lose this game? Frog legs, anyone?

Fun March Madness Party Games & Activities

Add some friendly competition to your gathering during halftime and timeouts, or keep the kiddos preoccupied while the adults watch the big game with some March Madness party games.

NCAA March Madness Bracket

Basketball Bingo: Make bingo cards with basketball-related words such as “airball”, "slam dunk," "3-pointer," "foul", and “free throw.” Instruct guests to mark off the events on their cards as they happen throughout the game – the first person to get bingo wins a prize.

Bracket Challenge: This one’s a must-have competition. Guests fill out their brackets before the game, making predictions for how the game or season will go and, ultimately, selecting who they think the winning team will be. Collect an entry fee from each participant and award prizes for the most accurate guesses. Pro Tip: CBS Sports, ESPN, Yahoo Fantasy, and the NCAA website are great places to find free online brackets.

Basket Shoot Relay Race: Divide your party guests into two or more teams and have them compete in a basketball relay race. Each team member must get the ball in the basket and then run back to tag the next player on their team. The first team to finish wins a prize.

March Madness Trivia: Find out who is the king or queen of MM knowledge with a fun trivia game. Get a ton of possible trivia questions online (like the ones below) or make up your own!

  • Who won the first NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament in 1939?

  • Which school has won the most NCAA Men's Basketball Championships?

  • Who won the NCAA Women’s Basketball tournament 2022?

  • Who is the all-time winningest coach in NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament history? Women’s?

Ping Pong Basketball: Get your pregame crafting on and make this ping pong basketball game to give guests a shot at claiming the title of March Madness Pong Champ.

Score Predictions: Ask your guests to predict the total score at the end of each quarter and at the end of the game. Present a trophy or prize to the person that made the most precise predictions overall.

Virtual Viewing Party: If an in-person event with your besties or family isn’t possible, host a virtual viewing party using video conferencing software like Zoom. You can still play games like March Madness trivia and bingo, have a bracket challenge, and enjoy the game together.