Top 5 Ways to Host the Best Election Watch Party Ever

You’ve watched the debates, studied the issues and cast your vote early. You’ve rallied friends, debated on Facebook and maybe even volunteered or donated. In short, you’ve done your part — or maybe you haven’t, and you wish you had. Nevertheless, after thousands of negative ads, polls, and hours of analysis from pundits and plebeians alike, the 2012 election season finally draws to a close tonight.

And that is cause for celebration.

While a typical Election Night party requires little more than a news source, a few friends and some food, there’s still time to “rally the base” with these five last-minute ideas that are sure to increase turnout among the “undecideds” on your invite list.

 1) Color in the 2012 Electoral Map.

Little known “fact”: Coloring is not just for kids. Sure, the “Color Me in Electoral Map” can be a great interactive tool for explaining the Electoral College to 9-year-olds, but voters three times that age can get a lot of mileage out of them as well.

Print out copies for all of your guests and have them color in (using red and blue markers) their best guesses as to how the night will turn out. Best guess wins a gift from the host.

You can also color them in as results become official, and use them to follow along. On the back, have your guests write one hope (or non-partisan proposition) for the next four years. Have party-goers exchange maps at the end of the night.

2) Bake (or buy) patriotic cookies.

Electoral cookies are another inter-generational crowd-pleaser, which they need not be elaborate. Over the weekend, at Madame Tussauds Wax Museum in Washington, D.C., kids took part in a mock election, complete with guest appearances by all of the nation’s presidents (in their waxen glory) and cookie-making stations featuring red, white and blue frosting.

While a cookie making station might be fun for early guests, lazy hosts can just as easily decorate a store-bought blueberry or strawberry pie with some icing (think stars and stripes) and chromatically appropriate fresh fruit.

Of course if colors aren’t your thing, “a bipartisan cookie recipe” combining ingredients from the “Ann Romney-Michelle Obama bake-off” from earlier this summer can be found here.

3) Film your own hilarious attack ads.

Voters in battleground states may be sick of them, but if your state wasn’t a pivotal piece of the electoral puzzle, the idea of making “mock” negative ads about your friends might hold some appeal. PBS’ Ad Lib 2012 tool (created with help from the Mozilla Foundation) is a Facebook-powered app that aims to educate users about how campaign ads work.

Using your Facebook account as a media source, you can contribute photos and other data to create an ad boosting yourself or bashing your friends. It all works using a template provided by PBS. The resulting product is shareable, so you can use Ad Libs 2012 to build excitement for your evening of fun. Better yet, host a brief screening of your guests’ best ads as the action is getting underway.

4) Create an election-themed playlist.

 As any former AOL subscriber will tell you, CDs make great coasters. They’re also an antiquated, though convenient, means of distributing playlists, and playlists are decent party favors.

Check out this list of political songs, or crowdsource a list of patriotic, state-themed or election related jingles to distribute at your gathering. If you decide to go this route, consider including a few from NPR’s Presidential Jingle contest. Although polls suggest that voters may find Romney lacking as a candidate, David Kent’s “Romney Jingle” (above) is undeniably catchy.

5) Make your own photo booth.

Photo booths are so simple you’ll wish you’d thought of the idea sooner. Hang a white, unwrinkled sheet in a designated area. Prepare some over-sized props, like “I Voted” pins, jumbo ballots or red, white or blue pom-poms. Encourage your guests to engage with the camera, wackily if possible. Post immediately to Facebook or Instagram.

If your candidate loses, there’s no guarantee that any of these ideas will salvage your night. However, regardless of the outcome, our decades-long tradition of largely peaceful democratic elections shouldn't be taken for granted — and it's definitely worth celebrating with friend