It’s super cold and overcast and we are in need of a party at my house!
As luck would have it, Groundhog Day lands on a Saturday this year. That’s right, February 2nd. Perfect! Groundhog Day is seriously overlooked and under-celebrated. I’m mostly kidding because can we really take Groundhog Day seriously? No. But I have cool enough friends, with cool enough kids, to enjoy a little ridiculousness. Perfect! Need a party at your house too? We have two weeks to get it goin’ on. LET’S PARTY!!!
First thing’s first: the guest list. This is not the party that you invite your boss to…unless she’s awesome, that is. This party is for people who don’t take themselves too seriously and are willing to throw formality aside. Stuffy is not welcome here, so choose wisely. If you want to do invitations, here’s an idea! I found a free groundhog picture on the internet and, with a little (and I do mean very little) Photoshop magic, I had the little woodchucks, themselves, do the inviting for the big event. Fun and easy!
Food: What are we eating? I know I said no formality, but there are some traditions that really have to be adhered to. I know that there aren’t many out there that have Groundhog Day traditions, but my friends in college threw the best Groundhog day parties ever and there are a few traditions that couldn’t be messed with. First and foremost, you have to serve pork sausage in some form because you know, GROUND HOG = PORK SAUSAGE. Get it? I know, cheesy, but it’s tradition AND funny. This year I’m serving mine in the form of stuffed mushrooms. Here’s my favorite recipe in case you decide to go that way too.
Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms
1/2 lb. Italian sausage
2 green onions, sliced
1/2 block of cream cheese (I use neufchatel)
1/2 c. shredded cheddar
2-3 T. grated parmesan
2 T. bread crumbs
16-20 mushrooms, cleaned with the stem removed completely.
Brown sausage completely. Combine with cream cheese while it’s still warm so cream cheese will soften and combine well. Add green onions, cheddar, parmesan, and bread crumbs.
With a spoon carefully pack the sausage mixture into the mushrooms as not to crack the mushrooms.
Lightly spray your pan. As you set the mushrooms on the pan and as you put the pan in the oven, be sure that all of the mushrooms remain upright.
Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Let cool for a couple of minutes and serve.
Next, there is actually an official recipe for Ground Hog Day cookies. Did you know that? It’s true. In all honesty, they’re really just gingerbread ground hogs. But again, tradition. My hilarious friends actually made their own ground hog cookie cutter. I decided to go with buying one on line for $1.65. Here’s a good recipe if you don’t have one that you love. Warning: it makes a TON of cookies, so halve it if you don’t want cookies coming out your ears. I decided to make both groundhogs and tiny tulips for 2 reasons. First, isn’t this whole holiday about waiting for spring? Tulips seem like the perfect “welcome Spring” cookie. Next, not everyone wants a big cookie, but everyone wants a bite.
2 cups sifted flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup soft butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 egg yolk
1 egg, slightly beaten
Currants or raisins
Sift together first seven ingredients. Set aside. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Blend in molasses and yolk. Stir in flour mixture and mix well. Form into a ball.
Wrap in plastic wrap. Chill overnight, several nights or freeze.
Place small amounts of dough on a sheet of plastic wrap, and cover with plastic wrap. Roll 1/8 inch thick. Cut out cookies with lightly floured cutter.
Place cookies on greased baking sheet. Brush with slightly beaten egg. Decorate with currants or raisin eyes. Repeat until all dough is used.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes in a preheated 350-degree oven. Cool slightly before removing from cookie sheet. Makes 72 or more medium-sized groundhogs.
Other than the two traditional foods, the rest only has to follow one rule: Yummy!
Third item of business: Games.
Games really must be played at this party. We used to play two specific games for the holiday so in my world they are tradition and, therefore, mandatory. You’ll have to decide for yourself if you’re going to hold with tradition. The first was groundhog bingo. It’s actually pretty funny to call out “land-beaver” or “skirmish for dominance!” Of course there’s a site where you can create your own cards quickly and easily over at print-bingo.com, OR use this link get to the bingo cards I set up!
The second game is the paper bag game. Again, decorum, out the window. Maybe you’ve played it? If not, here you go: Put a paper grocery bag on the floor standing upright. The first player stands in front of the bag. Only her feet can touch the floor at any time. She bends over and grabs the paper bag in her teeth and stands up. If she touches the paper bag with her hands, she’s out. If she falls over she’s out. If a hand or a knee touches down, she’s out. If she stands up successfully with the bag in her mouth, she stays in the game. She rips off the part of the bag that she bit and throws it away. She may tear off a little, or she may use some strategy and tear off a bunch. Now go around the circle and everyone gets a try. Everyone who is successful, stays in for the next round. Play continues until the last (wo)man is standing. How about a challenge round? Same thing, but with only one foot on the ground. Just remember to have 2 bags around. Who wouldn’t want to bite the head off this nervous little guy?
What next? Well, that’s up to you! It’s time to just enjoy your company. I can already hear the chatter and the laughter in my home. I’m so excited to put a party together that would make Punxatawney Phil proud.