It's easy to turn your house into a family-friendly French Quarter for Mardi Gras with a few decorations and, most importantly, some Cajun cuisine.
Traditionally, Mardi Gras is a three-day celebration prior to Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. The final day of Mardi Gras is known as Fat Tuesday. It serves as the last big chance to "live it up" before forty days of fasting.
Here are a few ideas to make your party the hit of the season:
- Send out paper masks as invitations to a masquerade ball. In New Orleans, invitations, not tickets, are distributed for attendance at Carnival balls during Mardi Gras season.
- Use bright colors and shiny flatware for your table or buffet. The official colors of Mardi Gras are purple, green and gold. Lay aluminum doubloons or shiny chocolate coins around your table interspersed with sparkly, colorful beads and masks.
- Bring the party to Bourbon Street by setting the mood with a little Zydeco, Cajun or Jazz music. Bands like the Funky Meters, Buckwheat Zydeco or Preservation Hall Jazz Band are sure to set the tone.
- Pass out feathered masks or inexpensive paper masks and beads to guests as they arrive at your party, then ask the guests to add their names to an elaborate Mardi Gras-themed hat. Crown a king or a queen for the day by picking names out of the hat, then have the king and queen wear the hat for the rest of the party.
- Bake your own King Cake—a ring of twisted pastry or bread topped with purple and green frosting or colored sugar that contains a plastic doll hidden inside. The person who finds the doll is supposed to have good luck for the year and is crowned the "King of the Feast." Check out our King Cake recipes at right to make your own!
- Have children follow a parade route through the house, conga line-style. Give them colorful beads and doubloons to throw to the adults at the party, or vice-versa.
More Mardi Gras Recipes >