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Every four years, Canada embraces cultures from around the world in one massive, month-long World Cup Party. Because, whether you like soccer or not, there’s something about the World Cup tournament that gets people excited.  Really excited.

It might be because of the country vs. country competition. Or maybe it’s the fact that even the smallest of countries are in the same league with the big ones. Whatever the reason, there’s no denying that the world’s biggest sports tournament (a month-long phenomenon) is sweeping across workplaces and homes.

And why not?  It’s fun. It brings old and young together to celebrate the cultures that raised them. And it gives everyone a chance to join together and cheer on their teams. Everywhere, people are wearing the colours of countries that they’re rooting for, and all in a frenzy of football. For the more than a billion soccer fans worldwide, “the beautiful game” borders on religion.  Cities come alive as people pack into restaurants and bars to watch their teams and celebrate.

But if spending time with dozens or hundreds of strangers isn’t your idea of a laugh riot, don’t be shy about throwing a World Cup party on your own terms – even right in your own home. How? Oh, we were hoping you would ask.

First off, decide what you want out of it. Do you want to use the occasion to visit with friends and families? Bond with co-workers? Impress the boss? Or blow off some steam?  Set your intentions and your budget. If the goal is to spend quality time with your guests, book a caterer ASAP. It’s party season and it will get harder to find a caterer as the month goes on.

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Regardless of whether you hire a caterer or do it all yourself, here are a few ideas to kick around that will let you really embrace the World Cup party spirit.

– Send out stadium ticket-like invitations.  Make sure your guests know they need the tickets for entrance! Throw some confetti in the envelope for an extra festive touch.

-Ask each of your guests to come as their favourite competing country. Or draw country names out of a hat and assign each person a country to represent at the party. Have fun with it.

-Flags. Lots of ‘em. And from everywhere. You can buy them at various sporting shops or you can go all Martha Stewart and make mini flags for participating countries out of construction paper and popsicle sticks. Because let’s face it. When you think World Cup, it’s hard not to think of Martha Stewart.

-Decorate with soccer ball balloons.  You can put them anywhere and they’ll spice up your party room. Batch them with black and white balloons.

-Hand out the vuvuzela horns. And the ear plugs. You’d better invite the neighbours – and maybe take away the horns as the night wares on.

-Serve drinks that represent the countries whose teams you’re watching. A little research can go a long way. For example, Caipirinha is Brazil’s national cocktail (you can substitutes vodka for cachaça), Limoncello is now considered the national drink of Italy. Both drinks are easy to prepare.

-Use soccer themed tablecloths, piñatas, banners, flags, jerseys, candy, cups, and bowls/serving trays. You may even be able to find some miniature soccer balls to keep your guests or their children entertained.

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-Create your own world cup decorations.

-Have foods that people can munch on throughout the event … the most important part is being able to watch the game.

-Use the food to complement your party’s theme. In honour of the colours in a soccer ball, try making desserts – like brownies – out of both dark and white chocolate.

-Have soccer themed door prizes. Inflatable soccer balls, soccer jerseys, soccer ball maracas, are just a few ideas…

-Plan an international potluck.  This is a great opportunity to sample and taste all the spectacular flavours of the world. Frikkadels are like South African meat balls – and they’re delicious!  Or how about trying some Korean fried kimchi rice with beef? Or why not sample some authentic Argentinean chorizo?

-Hire a face painter.  For the football fan that really goes all out to support his or her nation, wearing the flag of their country on his or her face during a world cup match is a fun way to demonstrate their love of their country and the game.

-What about an “indoor-outdoor” theme? People love being outdoors in the summer. Depending on your set up, you may be able to move your TV out into a shady spot in your yard.

Now that you’ve got all that sorted out, you can sit back and enjoy the game. Because, when all is said and done, isn’t that really the goooooooooooaaaaaaaallllllll!

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