October is for changing leaves, pumpkin spice, Halloween — and the remaining 2016 presidential debates. Whether you decide to watch solo or invite everyone over for a viewing party, you need to prep for the election festivities. From creating the perfect viewing room fit with cozy seating and cooking comfort foods that will soften even the sharpest verbal spar, this round-up will show you how to turn a national event into a personalized party.
Turn Your Living Room Into the Viewing Room
For prime television watching, you need a viewing room — one with comfy seating, lots of blankets and a projector. Read up on how to make this upgrade to your living room, and spend time before the debate getting the space ready. After seeing this setup, you’ll never want to watch TV the conventional way again.
Get Comfortable With Upcycled Pillows
Depending on how exciting the debate is, you could be in it for the long haul. That’s where these sweater pillows come into play. Surround yourself with pillows (made from your old or thrifted sweaters) and settle in. Don’t forget to grab your phone so you can scroll through the Twitter commentary as the debate progresses.
Decorate for the Patriotic Occasion
We totally get it if you use any event as an excuse to decorate. DIY a pinwheel rosette centerpiece to have on the buffet table as a safe, bipartisan conversation piece. Bonus: After November, tuck them away and bring them back again for Memorial Day.
Brush Up on Your Political People Skills
It’s inevitable that people are going to talk about the debate’s craziest moments as they're happening and after they're over. Before you turn the TV on, take a few minutes to learn how to support your preferred candidate in the most mature way — and think about what you’re posting before you post it. We still have time before a winner is chosen, and no one wants a political party pooper.
Go for a Comforting Dinner
Tensions may be high as you watch the candidates "discuss," so you’ll want to think strategically about dinner. Go for easy comfort food, like twice-baked potatoes. Don’t skimp on the beer cheese sauce!
Pop Pork Ribs in the Oven
Here’s another option: oven-baked pork ribs. If you don’t want to miss even the first few minutes of the broadcast, you can make the ribs the night before and heat them up as soon as you get home. Throw a few on a plate, grab a fork and napkin and take a seat.
Break Out the Popcorn Dessert
In case of a candidate showdown, you’ll want popcorn. That’s where these mini caramel popcorn balls come in. The best part? If someone says something you don’t agree with, you can throw one of these balls at the screen.
Mix Enough Spiked Cider to Go Around
This is a perfect time to break out the bar cart and come up with a special debate drink, especially if you’re throwing a party. The excitement about fall hasn’t died down yet, so go for a spiked apple cider recipe to nurse throughout the night. You’ll need cider, whiskey, spices and whipped cream.
Try Jello Shots for Your Drinking Game
Every time a candidate says “yuge” or “email,” take one of these sangria jello shots. These are easy to make the night before, so you don’t need to stress about time. If you have friends over, make sure everyone has a safe ride home.
Get Everyone to Register to Vote
Before you turn in for the night or send your friends home, double-check that everyone’s registered to vote. It’s really important to make sure you do this now, since it's not always possible to register at the polls. At the same time, have everyone set a phone reminder to vote on November 8.
Wind Down With a Luxurious Bath
Watching two people debate can be downright exhausting. As soon as you can, take time for a post-viewing soak. Don’t forget to throw in homemade bath bombs — if you plan ahead, you can use red and blue food coloring while making them. If one thing comes out of the debate, it’s that there’s a clear winner here: you.
Zoe Lance is a writer and editor interested in all things art and culture. She earned her bachelor's degree at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.