One of my favorite things about October is that all of my favorite sports are back in full swing. Speaking of swing, it is the most exciting month of baseball in October because the playoffs are starting. And even more spectacular for all of my fellow Chicagoans??? THE CUBS ARE IN THE PLAYOFFS! Who knows how long they will last in this year’s playoffs (it is a one game playoff—which has had my stomach in knots ALL week), but I’m throwing a baseball playoffs party anyway and want to share my baseball themed ideas with you.
Take Me Out to the Ball Game Trail Mix—I’m just going to say it…I really don’t like Cracker Jacks. But I LOVE trail mix. My favorite combo? Popcorn, honey roasted peanuts, raisins, and chocolate chips. In Cubbie red and blue, of course.
Baseball Toast—Trim a slice of bread using a circular cookie cutter. Toast to desired temperature. Then top with any type of red jam you prefer (strawberry, cherry, mixed berry, etc.) to make the threads of a baseball.
Pretzel and Cheese Skewers—There is nothing better than getting a warm pretzel with cheese at the ball park. Put an “at home” spin on it by skewering chunks of soft pretzels and cheddar cheese. No soft pretzels on hand? No worries. Regular pretzels work too.
Baseball Pancake—Prepare pancakes as you normally would. Dice any red fruit (strawberry, raspberry, cranberry, cherry, etc.) and arrange them in lines to make the threads of a baseball. You can (and should) also put a little Chicago spin on a pancake or two as well.
Hot Dog Bar—A baseball game isn’t complete without a hot dog. But you really need to up your hot dog game if you are in MY city. So for our hot dog bar, we make sure to get buns WITH poppy seeds, celery salt, kosher dill pickles and sport peppers, mounds of diced cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions for toppings, as well as relish and mustard. Some people would fight you on having ketchup at your hot dog bar, but I won’t eat a red hot without it (I know, banish me from the city limits, Chicago).
PB&J Sammies—Similar to the baseball toast, cut out two circular pieces of bread to make your peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Just save some jelly to draw some baseball lines on the top of the sammie. Have wipes nearby to tackle those sticky fingers!
Fruit Platter—Spell out your team’s logo and show your pride in a healthy way. This is a great side to the other carb heavy options that are deliciously fun to eat while watching a game.
Old Style Beer
Yep, there’s really no getting around it. Old Style is the quintessential Cubs drink. And you MUST drink it out of a can or it just simply doesn’t count.
One of my favorite memories as a kid is going to baseball games with my Dad and him indulging my sister and I with every chocolate treat he could find (I now realize it was just because HE was the total chocoholic). So instead of having some chocolate ice cream (it is currently c o l d in Chicago), have a milk shake instead. Here is the most drool worthy list of milk shakes imaginable. And I like to let my boys decorate their milkshakes with whatever colored sprinkles they like—but I’m only offering blue and red sprinkles this playoff season.
Well, obviously, the two teams have the whole “baseball game” thing covered. But sometimes baseball can be painfully s l o w. That’s why I have come up with a few ideas to keep the night moving.
Similar to March Madness, you can set up a bracket of sorts to have everyone guess who they think will end up sporting World Series rings this year. But to put a Wrigley Field spin to it, I like to use green construction paper and white chalk for the set up. Doesn’t it just scream “Take Me Out to the Ballgame?”
Even though your team might not win, one of the best parts about watching your team in the playoffs is making memories with friends and family you watch the game with. I mean, ask any Cubs fan, and we know EXACTLY where we were during the foul ball incident of 2003. Sigh. So to keep reliving some great memories, have everyone write a little note on a baseball (or go totally Chicago style and get a 16” softball—there’s more room to write) to serve as a keepsake.
About five times a day I tell my boys not to throw balls in the house, but I’m going to let this rule slide come baseball playoff time. Instead, I am going to encourage them to use a (soft) baseball to knock down towers (made of red solo cups) and focus on strategy and skill instead of breaking fragile things in the house. Maybe one of them will emerge as a southpaw and will be playing in October a decade or two from now.
I’m sure I could go on and on about baseball décor, but I get the most pleasure out of delicious food and drinks and making lasting memories with my family and friends. Feel free to browse Pinterest (and follow me while you’re on there) for other outstanding ideas.
And if you are heading to Wrigley (with or without kids), be sure to read this list of tips FIRST!