Hometown affiliations notwithstanding, football fans can agree on this: The Super Bowl party is an American institution.

Hallmark claims that more Americans attend parties on Super Sunday than on New Year’s Eve. And according to the National Retail Federation, Americans spent around $5.3 billion on their Super Bowl parties in 2006.

Chances are, even if you’re only watching for the rumored Apple announcement, you’ll still find yourself in front of a television come Feb. 4. But if you’re going the extra yard by planning your own party, the web is here to help. Whether it’s sending out invitations, coordinating chips and dip, or cleaning up after the masses, make sure your party hits pay dirt by prepping with the latest tech.

For planning and invitations, many rely on the old standby, Evite , but some new sites on the block are trying to move beyond the simple web invitation. Renkoo , Skobee and MyPunchbowl set themselves apart from the pack by incorporating pre-invitation event-planning tools and, in the case of the latter, post-party memory sharing.

MyPunchbowl, which launched just in time for Super Bowl XLI, offers a suite of easy party-planning tools. Just create an account, create a party and add your friends to the list. MyPunchbowl will import your address book from most popular online e-mail services.

Once you have everything set up, send out your announcement. As a nice touch, MyPunchbowl makes it possible to send personalized messages to each recipient at the top of your general e-mail.

Unlike most other sites, MyPunchbowl lets your friends RSVP without registering. There’s also a forumlike tool included with each party page so people can ask questions and you can answer them. Also, any time you want to nag your friends who haven’t committed to bringing beer or chips, you can use MyPunchbowl to send out personalized, taunting messages to the slackers.

Once you have the basics covered, it’s time to get to the finer points of competitive sports — online betting. It’s nice when your team wins, but it’s even nicer when your team earns you a bunch of your friends’ money. Is it legal? Not in the United States, so proceed at your own risk.

Gottabet.com is a U.K.-based website that allows you to bet on nearly anything using real money or, more legally, a site currency dubbed “peanuts.” Gottabet functions like a typical social-networking site: Create a profile and invite your friends to join.

Bets involving real money are settled by credit or debit cards. Gottabet takes a 5 percent fee off the top of your pot. It’s also possible to send a portion of the proceeds to charity.

So what happens after the party, when everyone has gone home and you find yourself alone with a giant mess? For the lazy, there’s always the iRobot Roomba vacuum cleaner , but depending on how closely your friends’ eating habits mirror those of barnyard animals, you may want something stronger.

Gadget Lab recently reviewed the Dyson Root 6 handheld vacuum and found it capable of devouring everything from rocks to bobby pins. Its battery life is lacking, but the suction power is unmatched, and by most accounts it’s loud enough to wake up any stragglers passed out in the dark corners of your domicile. Plus, it looks like something from a Terry Gilliam film, so it gets points.

But there’s more to the after-party than cleanup — it’s time to share memories. Hallmark doesn’t have any sarcastic sorry-my-team-whooped-your-team’s-butt cards to send out Monday morning while gloating to your friends, but you could always create your own with MyCardMaker.

Being a proper geek, you most certainly recorded the game on your TiVo. Hold on to the memories by transferring the video to your PC using TiVoToGo (a free download for Windows users). Mac football fans looking to do the same will have to pony up $80 for Toast 8 Titanium from Roxio, which features support for burning TiVo recordings. Once it’s on your computer, you can create a DVD or compress the game for playback on an iPod.

If you used MyPunchbowl to plan your party, you can upload your photos to Flickr and MyPunchbowl can display the Flickr galleries on your party page. Once your photos are on Flickr, just enter your Flickr user name in MyPunchbowl and you’ll see all your photos. Send out your photo announcement so your guests can browse your pictures and add their own.

With these web tools at your disposal you should be able to tame the Super Bowl party beast, unless of course somebody forgets to bring the beer.

Have fun and may the best team win. Go Patriots! Wait, what? Oh. By Scott Gilbertson

   
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