Mardi Gras refers to the bright, vibrant festivals of excess held around the world leading up to Ash Wednesday. Nowhere has the tradition taken on its own distinctive flare more than in New Orleans. A gumbo-like blend of French, Spanish, African, and Native American cultures have blended over hundreds of years and evolved into a city-wide cultural phenomenon that’s impossible to replicate. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth a try!
We can’t all make it to the Big Easy for Carnival, so here are some easy tips to throw your own Mardi Gras and drive away those midwinter blues.
Decorate with Masks and Throws
All you need are some cheap masks and tons of beaded necklaces for decorations. You can find them at any dollar store, party store, or online. Plastic beaded necklaces are common “throws” among other trinkets thrown from parade floats during Mardi Gras.
- Make it look like a parade just romped through your party space by draping beads from lamps, tables, even curtains.
- Cover party tables with purple, gold, and green tableclothes. Purple stands for justice, green means faith, and gold represents power.
- Hang masks from doorways, on walls, and around your tablescape.
Activity Idea: A mask decorating craft or a costume contest are fun ways to get guests into the spirit of Mardi Gras.
Make a Playlist
Music is at the heart of New Orleans. And, it’s a vital part of any Mardi Gras party. Here are a few tunes for your party playlist that capture Louisiana’s rich musical heritage:
- Ain’t Nothin’ but a Party by Dirty Dozen Brass Band
- Carnival Time by Al Johnson
- Street Parade by Earl King
- Goin’ Back to New Orleans by Dr. John
- Walking to New Orleans by Fats Domino
- New Orleans Blues by Jelly Roll Morton
- When the Saints Go Marching In by Louis Armstrong
Create Your Menu
Nothing will make your guests feel more transported to Mardi Gras than your menu.
Sweet Corn & Crab Poppers
They’re sweet with a lil’ kick!
Crusty Crab Cakes with Lemon-Butter Sauce
The delicate flavor of the crabmeat provides a nice balance to crispy wonton chips.
Gumbo is Perfect for a Crowd
You can serve a pot of soul food right from your stovetop. Guests can serve themselves a bowl or two. Try Creole Gumbo with Cornbread.
Make an Easy King Cake
The king cake is the traditional dessert of Mardis Gras. This frosted yeast dough cake is considered a final sweet treat before the start of Lent. The Pampered Chef version is a much simpler ring of refrigerated crescent rolls filled with a sweet cream cheese mixture, sliced apples, and pecans. It’s another great use for your Large Round Stone .
The little plastic baby tucked inside after baking is considered good luck to the guest who finds it in their piece of cake. (But it’s entirely optional.)
Easy fried pastry dough!
Tell us about your Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras traditions in the comments below.