The New York Giants are in the interesting position of playing on three separate holidays in this holiday season.
The Giants have already played on Thanksgiving (in the most-watched regular season game in NFL history), they go on the road in three weeks to play the Minnesota Vikings on Christmas Eve, and they host the Indianapolis Colts a week later on New Year’s Day.
While tens of thousands of fans (82,500 for the home games, 73,000 at US Bank Stadium in Minnesota) will have the opportunity to spend the holiday with the Giants, many more of us will be watching the games on TV. But while we’re missing out on the experience of a live football game, gathering with family and friends on the holidays has its own charms.
The Giants are one of the oldest and most storied franchises in the NFL. And as Giants fans, we carry the weight of history with us, and our fandom tends to run in families.
I’ve talked about this before, but it bears mentioning here. My own fandom was passed down to me from my (paternal) grandfather and my mom’s uncle, through my dad and my older cousin (hey, Mike!).
That can make holiday games particularly meaningful — and the gatherings that much more fun.
It also means that we don’t have to wait in lines or pay stadium prices for drinks and snacks. We can bring — or make — our own and extend the tailgating experience through the whole game in much more comfortable seats.
Whenever I have a family gathering that involves football, I always vote “tacos” for dinner. After all, tacos are easily customizable, hand-held, everyone can have as much or as little as they want, and they’re easy to eat while watching a game.
I’m also always overruled, because for some reason tacos aren’t an acceptable dinner on Thanksgiving or Christmas.
But when I’m in charge of snacks, my go-to are pretzel balls, and they’re always acceptable.
I make mine from scratch, which takes about 40 minutes all-told and my friends and family always appreciate the sweet and salty treat for our homegating.
1 and 1/2 cups warm water (lukewarm– no need to take temperature but around 100°F is great)
2 and 1/4 teaspoons instant or active dry yeast (1 standard packet)
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon brown sugar (plus honey and cinnamon to taste)
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and slightly cool
3 and 3/4-4 cups all-purpose flour (leveled), plus more for hands and work surface
coarse salt or coarse sea salt for sprinkling
Mix the yeast into the warm water and let sit for 1 minute. Then whisk in salt, brown sugar, honey, cinnamon, and melted butter.
Slowly add 3 cups of flour and mix with a wooden spoon or a dough hook on a mixer.
Add flour until dough is no longer sticky.
Let the dough rest while you preheat the oven to 400 degrees and bring 9 cups of water with 1⁄2 cup of baking soda to a boil.
Form into balls roughly the size of golf balls and dip in boiling water for roughly 20 seconds.
Then place balls on a greased pan, sprinkle on the salt, and bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.
I usually serve my pretzel balls with our family mustard — the recipe for which I will not be sharing. But you can use your favorite mustard or cheese sauce, or just enjoy them plain.
They’re easily snackable and always a hit.
I don’t really get to watch Giants games as a part of family gatherings much anymore. The last time was my mom’s Aunt Sylvia’s 95th birthday, way back in my first season writing for Big Blue View. So I’m always interested to hear how other people like to enjoy the games with their family and friends. Do you put out memorabilia or Giants-specific decorations? What do you serve to eat or drink?