How to Run a Successful World Cup Bracket and Watch Party

world cup party tips

The FIFA World Cup is the biggest sporting event in the world. Every four years, 32 nations come together to compete for the ultimate prize in soccer. And while the games are usually played on the other side of the world, that doesn't stop millions of American fans from tuning in to watch. In fact, the 2014 World Cup was the most watched event in U.S. history, with an average of 26.5 million viewers per game.

If you're planning on throwing a World Cup watch party during the upcoming tournament, or running an entire tournament bracket with your friends, you're not alone. In fact, 45% of Americans say they're interested in watching the 2022 World Cup, so there will be about 150 million people available for watch parties! But with so many games being played at all hours of the day (and night), it can be tough to know where to start. That's why we've put together this handy guide on how to run a successful World Cup bracket and watch party. Just follow these simple steps and you'll be sure to have a great time.

Watch Party Tips

Since we're writing about both watch parties and full-tournament brackets, we'll break it down into those two things because each activity has different requirements. For instance, you don't need to serve food and drinks to people who submit a tournament bracket but if you invite 10 people to your house to watch a game and you have no snacks, you're not going to have a good time. So, let's get the watch party tips first and we'll deal with brackets after everyone has enjoyed a game together.

Pick a Game

Choose a date and time for your party that works for everyone invited. The first week of the tournament is filled with group stage games, so there will be plenty of opportunities to catch a match or two (or three). Just make sure you pick a date and time that works for everyone on your guest list.

In all honesty, the specific game isn't that important, either. Sure, if you're following a specific country in the tournament it would make sense to choose a game in which they play, but if you're a soccer fan year round then you know that your club team has players from all over the world, so you can easily watch "your players" play on many different national teams. Besides, you probably just want to watch any world cup game, so just pick one that's televised at a good time and on a good day and you're set.

Send Invites & Get RSVPs

Online invitation services are free, easy to use, and super convenient, so be sure to utilize them when you're sending out the invites. If your friend group all has a text chain or something you can certainly manage the invites and guest list via text, or email, or whatever, but a simple online invitation can make it easier for you to aggregate the guest list, assign foods and drinks for people to bring, etc. You want to focus on the game, not on the fact that Brian only brought 2 beers for himself and Chris didn't bring a dessert but ate the entire cheese plate. Give everyone something to bring, count your RSVPs, and enjoy the day when everyone arrives.

Get the AV Ready

I know, AV is an "old" term, but hey, with so many ways to watch stuff now it's a good catch-all phrase. Maybe you have a TV, or a projector, or everyone gets their own iPad to watch TV, who knows...just get whatever it is you're using ready BEFORE people get there. Nothing is worse than figuring out your cable subscription doesn't have the channel that the game is on and now you have to find some bootleg stream online (not that we condone illegal streaming!) and all your guests are mad.

Make sure you have the channel. Take a look at your screen, whatever it is, to make sure it will be provide ample viewing for everyone at your place. Get your seating squared away. And have room for jumping up and down and celebrating goals and all that. Very important!

Food & Drinks

We touched on this a little already since Brian didn't bring enough drinks and Chris greedily ate all the cheese plate stuff. Definitely don't invite them to the next watch party. Probably weren't even good friends to begin with...

Anyway, this is why it's important that you, as the host, provide some food and drinks too. Sure, you've asked people to bring stuff during the invite process but some people forget, or bring the wrong thing, or bring something that tastes horrible even if you can't tell them that, so guard against that by having some fan favorite foods available. Nothing wrong with simple and cheap, like chips and salsa, or a dip, or even bad pizza starts to taste really good when you've had a few drinks with your friends and the game is on. So provide a little food and you'll be sure to have a good time.

Drinks can really add up and become expensive, so don't expect to provide ALL the booze for every guest. It's totally acceptable to have people bring things they want to drink. But it's also nice to have some options available to your guests should they like something different. Don't break the bank on providing drinks for everyone, but a little attention here can really set your party up for success.

Pregame, Postgame, and Halftime Activities

The main focus of the day is the game, for sure. But there is always pregame discussion and post game analysis. Some of your guests may really get into this and want to watch all of that, and that's great. Some will want to do something else until the game is actually on though, and it's nice to have something for them to do as well.

We tend to like some simple, travel size, tailgate games as good options for these times. When you have a watch party you're often in your house, so full size tailgating games just don't work unless you live in a mansion (and if you do, can we get on your next watch party invite list?). For most of us though, a simple travel size cornhole set would be a great option for this kind of party. It's competitive, which people like. It's almost no equipment which is very convenient. It doesn't take up much space when you play the small travel size, and it's a ton of fun! Cornhole is the perfect game for your watch party.

Typically we'd suggest avoiding complicated games, or long games, because you'll want to stop playing when the game is on. No sense in starting a game of monopoly where despite drinking all his beer Brad somehow has all the railroads and is bleeding everyone dry and making enemies left and right when you'll just have to stop in the middle because the world cup game is starting. Stick to something simple and quick and everyone will have a blast.

Bracket Tips

Running a tournament bracket is more of a longer activity because, well, it spans the entire tournament. You'll want people to submit brackets before the tournament starts so everyone is on an equal playing field when it comes to choosing winners.

The world cup starts with a group stage, so it's not straight into elimination rounds. Part of your bracket can involve choosing the winners of each group, or you could even go as far as choosing all 4 places for every group. You can award prizes, or if it's a paid bracket you can provide payouts for people who can place all 4 teams in a group in the correct order. This would be tough to do with all the groups, but could be a fun little "side bet" during your tournament bracket.

Everyone will have to choose winners of each game, and ultimately the winner of the FIFA World Cup overall. Players acquire points by correctly choosing the winners of the games, and whoever has the most points at the end of the tournament will win.

You can have other requirements to win as well, and side bet payouts for things like correctly guessing how many total goals are scored during the tournament, who choosing the highest scorer of the tournament, or which team gives away the most penalties, or who gets the most red cards. There are TONS of ways to include additional bets during your bracket, and they're all a ton of fun and keeps things interesting, especially for those people who have a busted bracket early on. It's no fun if the team you chose to win the whole tournament gets beaten in the first knockout round - what do you do now? Well, if you've got all these side bets going you can still enjoy every game and have something you're playing for as well.

At the end of the tournament you'll have to pay out the winners for all the bets and the bracket winner, but that's the best part. Since you just read about having a successful watch party you can have everyone in the bracket watch the last game together and hand out prizes right there!

Plan Your Watch Party Today

The FIFA World Cup is the biggest sporting event in the world, and it's only getting bigger. With interest in the sport at an all-time high, now is the time to plan your World Cup watch party. Don't wait until the last minute - get ahead of the game and start planning now. From food and drink to decorations and entertainment, we'll help you make sure your party is a success. So what are you waiting for? Get started today!