Whether you’re having a get-together to celebrate your baseball team’s winning season or to watch the local big league team in the playoffs, you can lay out a spread worthy of any ballpark. Use paper products and decorations to establish the baseball theme for your party. Continue the theme with ballpark goodies such as hot dogs, peanuts and cotton candy or snow cones. Add any regional specialties, such as crab cakes or bratwurst, to make your guests feel right at home at your own personal ballpark.


Pregame Warmups

Set the tone for your baseball party by setting out an array of stadium staples for appetizers. Serve Cracker Jacks, popcorn and chips in large bowls or in small red and white popcorn boxes just like the ballpark. Serve ballpark nachos in small cardboard trays topped with hot, gooey cheese sauce. Add sliced jalapenos for a zestier snack. Spread mini-bagel halves with cream cheese and use slivers of red peppers to make them look like baseballs. And don’t forget the peanuts; serve them unshelled in small white or brown paper bags.


The Big Game

No baseball-themed party is complete without hot dogs and hamburgers for the main course; bratwursts are another favorite. If the weather permits, cook them on an outdoor grill to get that true ballpark flavor. Set out an array of condiments for guests to customize their sandwiches, including relish, ketchup, mustard, chopped onions and salt and pepper. If you’re feeling creative, make some large pizzas topped with your favorite sauce. Melt white cheese evenly over the top; then use additional sauce to “draw” on red lines to replicate the stitching on a baseball.


Thirsty Fans

Lay in a large supply of locally popular beers and put these in the refrigerator or on ice early in the day so they’ll be thoroughly chilled by the time your guests arrive. Use large plastic or metal tubs filled with ice, or plastic coolers, to set out the beers for your guests to serve themselves. Alternately, rent a keg. For guests who prefer non-alcoholic drinks, offer a variety of soft drinks, along with yellow or pink lemonade. Frozen lemonade is another popular ballpark treat; make it ahead of time and store it in the freezer.


Extra Innings

Get creative with your desserts to continue the baseball theme of your party. Use frosting to turn a large sheet cake into a baseball diamond, or have a team picture screened onto the frosted cake for an end-of-season celebration. White and red frosting turns plain cupcakes into baseballs, and white-frosted cake pops trimmed in red “stitching” will delight the kids. Make a batch of your favorite sugar cookie dough, roll it out, and use cookie cutters to make baseballs, bats, hats and gloves to decorate with colored icing. For a cold treat, serve ice cream in plastic baseball hat “bowls.”