How to Successfully Host a TV Viewing Party

Joel Lee 12-06-2015

Game of Thrones season is my favorite time of year. Not only do we get 10 straight weeks of a deeply rich television show 10 Intriguing Game of Thrones Fan Theories Read More with a rabid fanbase, we get to enjoy it with cord-cutting services Considering Canceling Cable? The True Cost of Cutting the Cord When you add everything up, do you really save money by cutting the cord? We do the math involved with cancelling cable in favor of Internet services. Read More like HBO Now. But most of all, it’s a social phenomenon — and watching it together with your friends is an experience like no other.


Enter the TV viewing party.

People throw these kinds of parties for all sorts of occasions. You’ve got (mostly) entertaining pop culture events like the Academy Awards, the opening premiere for a hyped-up new show 5 Sites to Discover New TV Shows You Might Have Missed Out On There's an overwhelming amount of entertainment to keep up with these days - whether in the form of books, movies, music or TV shows. And there's probably a lot of shows we're missing out on,... Read More , a sporting event such as the Super Bowl, or even the grand finale of a beloved narrative like Friends.

But if you’re the one throwing the party, you have to know that there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. How much care you put into it will dictate how the night goes. And you want it to be a success, don’t you? Here’s how to make that happen with our guide to hosting a successful TV viewing party.

Start with a Head Count

Preparation is the key. As they say, failing to plan is planning to fail! Of course there’s a lot of wiggle room here — a TV party shouldn’t be a regimented affair save for when the show actually starts — but you don’t want to completely wing it. That could be disastrous.

First, you should send out invitations. Depending on how serious the party is, you could send out paper invitations, but most of the time verbal invites and electronic invites will suffice. Either way you cannot skip this step. You need to know who is interested!


An easy way to manage this would be to use an app like Jabb Events [No Longer Available], Invitation Maker [No Longer Available], or Evite. With them, you can create private events (only open to friends) or public events (open to anyone using the app), send out invites, and keep track of planned attendance with the built-in RSVP managers. They’re extremely easy to use and will save you a lot of time and hassle.


Or if that’s too casual for you, you could go with a Web-based tool instead. Whoozin is a great choice as it allows you to create an event page, send out email invitations, and track responses on a convenient dashboard. An alternative is EventBrite, which is completely free as long as you aren’t charging for attendance.

If the worse comes to worst, you can always use Google Forms How to Collect Contact Info Using Google Forms on Mobile Devices Want to quickly survey a large number of people? Need to take a poll for free? Here's how easy it is with Google Forms. Read More ! Spruce it up and improve automation with these advanced Google Forms tips and tricks 10 Advanced Google Forms Tips and Tricks If Google Forms isn't your go-to form maker yet, these advanced Google Forms tips and tricks may change your mind. Read More .


If the responses are lackluster, you may need to scrap the idea. If too many people want to come, you may need to cut the guest list — unless the group is okay with being overcrowded (which, in my experience, doesn’t make for fun viewing).

But if you can keep the number in check, great! Now you can start on the real details. For example, if you want to host a potluck prior to the viewing, this is when people should sign up with what they’re going to bring. There’s nothing worse than having 10 people bringing plates and cups but no food.

Keep Them Fed, Keep Them Happy

Speaking of food, this is one aspect that you absolutely cannot forget. Food may or may not make your guests happy, but not having food is sure to make them a bit grumpy. The aforementioned potluck idea is always nice, but even something as simple as delivered pizza can work out well.

Ask people to chip in a few dollars each if it’s going to be too hard on your wallet or purse.


Eating prior to viewing serves a secondary purpose: breaking the ice. If new people are joining in the fun, get to know them while you’re all eating together so they feel more comfortable later on. You may even make a new friend in the process. If no newbies are attending, the eating phase is still good for getting hyped up.


If your group is the type to consume alcohol, be sure to serve some. (Or at least have a few people bring some.) Craft beer and microbrews New to Craft Beer? Start with the Best Beer Websites & Communities Beer is an acquired taste. Once acquired, beer offers a certain world of taste that no other beverage can. Experience the wonders of craft beer, with these websites and communities. Read More are always a convenient option. If you prefer cocktails, check out Liqurious, which is a Pinterest alternative for alcohol The 10 Best Pinterest Alternatives to Use Instead Looking for a Pinterest for men? A Pinterest for food? A Pinterest for memes? Here are the best alternatives to Pinterest! Read More .

Don’t forget the snacks and refreshments. People will want to keep munching even after the end of dinner, so provide a station with a few finger foods (chips, cookies, etc.) and a self-serve drinks station. Keep it simple and easy, nothing too messy. Need inspiration? Check out these awesome recipe apps The 4 Best Recipe Apps for Android Phones One of the problems many families have today is that no one really has time to make dinner. It's hard to plan out the meals - so when dinner comes, it's hard to cook when... Read More and these YouTube food channels 10 Mega-Popular YouTube Cooking Channels By Cuisine I didn’t realize I was following so many cooking channels until I saw Joshua’s list of great YouTube cooking channels to follow. I knew at least 5 of the 6 channels in his list so... Read More .


Or maybe you want to order food instead, in which case you will love these fast food restaurants with mobile apps The 10 Best Fast Food Restaurant Apps for Android Looking for the best fast food restaurant apps? We've found the best Android apps for ordering food and earning rewards. Read More . Chipotle delivery with just a few screen taps? Amazing. What about these apps for ordering pizza 6+ Best Apps To Order Pizza From Your iPhone [iOS] Ordering food online is by far one of the most convenient ways of securing a meal, and using an app on your iPhone is even simpler. Waiting in line or being put on hold on... Read More ? Never before has it been so easy to provide food for a party.

Make Sure Everyone Is Comfortable

Once everyone is done eating, and the snacks and refreshments are set, and the TV show is about to start, is it enough to plop down and keep your eyes trained on the screen? Not quite! In the few minutes leading up to the show’s start, you need to make sure everyone is comfortable.

For starters, that means providing enough seating for your guests. I hope you took a guest count because it’s hard to summon a couple of chairs out of thin air when you realize you invited too many people. Cap your guest list by how many seats you have — unless there are folks who prefer to sit on the floor.


The viewing angle is important, too. I can’t tell you how annoying it is when I’m invited to a TV party and it’s so cramped that someone is relegated to the sides where the viewing experience is diminished by reduced contrast and glares. Which reminds me: always dim or turn off the main lights.

Lastly, temperature. It’s no fun to shiver through a long show, nor is it fun to sweat bullets. If it’s unfeasible to alter your thermostat accordingly, at least provide your guests with a few blankets or air fans. They’ll love you for it, guaranteed.

Don’t Skimp on the Media Center

Not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to afford a big-screen television or the latest smart TV What Is a Smart TV? 6 of the Best on the Market Today Most televisions you look at now will be smart TVs, but what is a smart TV and which ones are the best on the market right now? Read More . However, if your only screen is a 24-inch CRT from the last decade, you may not be well-equipped enough to be hosting these kinds of parties. To be frank, you would be doing a disservice to your guests.

The lowest acceptable screen size is probably somewhere around 40 inches. If you can push that beyond 50 inches, that’d be even better. Also, when buying an LCD screen TV 7 Important Things To Know When Buying An LCD Monitor Read More , note that glossy screens produce richer colors but are more problematic when it comes to glare — and glare isn’t the only issue.

Have you noticed that when you watch TV from the sides, the picture “fades” and becomes unwatchable? This is due to the screen refracting light, which means that the picture is clearest when you’re directly in front of the TV rather than at an angle. When you have a lot of guests, this can be a problem.


Most modern flat-screen TVs have a maximum viewing angle around 20 degrees. Better quality TVs can reach upwards of 30 or even 40 degrees. Unfortunately, do the lack of standards and regulation, most TVs claim to have a 89-degree or 178-degree viewing angle (depending on how they measure), so on-the-box specifications can’t really be trusted.

The moral of the story? Try to keep everyone as “in front of the TV” as possible. The further to the side, the worse their viewing experience will be. For optimal viewing angles, however, you’ll want to get a TV with a curved screen Everything You Need to Know About Television Technology Before the days of mobile devices and laptops, our entertainment needs were mostly filled by one source, the television. Read More . Not exactly within everyone’s budget, I know, but the difference is noticeable.

Sound is another important factor you don’t want to overlook. Depending on the size of your room, you may need to hook up an external sound system Building A Home Theater System? Do It Right! 10 Crucial Mistakes To Avoid Do an image search for "home theater" and you’ll see photo after photo of huge, lavish theaters with seating for up to twenty (or more!) and giant screens. These ideals are every tech geek’s dream,... Read More in such a way that audibility is optimized. It’s no fun when a TV show makes no sense because you can’t hear what anybody is saying.

Share Your Own Tips!

Hosting a TV party is ultimately pretty simple — it’s just a lot of work. If you can manage to pull it off on a weekly basis, more power to you! In that case, feel free to be less extravagant with your food and drinks.

But if it’s for a one-off event like an awards show or a series finale, don’t be afraid to kick it up several notches. Get everyone to dress in costume. Make party favors for everyone. Do something memorable!

Have you ever hosted a TV party? What kind of things do you like to do to keep your guests happy and entertained? Which shows do you throw parties for? Tell us in the comments below!

Image Credits: TV Setup With Beer Via Shutterstock, Invitation Via Shutterstock, Snacks Around TV Via Shutterstock, Comfortable On Couch Via Shutterstock, Home Media Center Via Shutterstock

Related topics: Food, Smart TV, Surround Sound, Television.

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