If you want to party like a rock star on Mardi Gras but you don't live in New Orleans, we have you covered. From food to decorations, you can bring the French Quarter right on into your living room.
First, it helps to know what Mardi Gras is and why it is worth throwing a bash to celebrate it. Simply stated, it is the last hurrah before the season of Lent.
This means that for the next 40 days those who observe Lent will abstain from alcohol and over-indulgence. It will be a time for fasting and prayer leading up to Easter. Around the world, it is Carnival season, but in the U.S., it is Mardi Gras season.
The term "Mardi Gras" is French and it literally translates into "Fat Tuesday"; the rest is self-explanatory. There is also the lesser-known companion day called Lundi Gras which is--you guessed it--Fat Monday.
Now, let's get to the good stuff.
Purple, Green, and Gold are the traditional Mardi Gras colors. The colors go way back to 1892. Purple stands for justice, green for faith and gold for power. The colors and meanings were chosen by the Krewe of Rex as a theme for their float. Incorporate them wherever you can.
Beads, beads, and more beads! If you have ever been in New Orleans for The Big Day, then you already know this. Make sure you greet your guests with a few strands and use them in your decorating as well. Balloons in Mardi Gras colors will add to the motif, as it is not unusual to see homes decorated with huge strands of Mardi Gras beads in the traditional colors.
Masks are also a Mardi Gras motif. Think traditional masquerade ball, not Halloween. Encourage guests to wear them and also have them out as decorations. Allowing guests to create their own masks can be a fun activity, especially if there are kids involved.
Do not be afraid to use glitter and confetti, and when you think you have decorated enough, add a little more. Mardi Gras is all about getting every ounce of indulgence in before the clock strikes midnight. Your decor should be vibrant and festive and a little over the top.
Good music is everywhere in The Big Easy. Jazz and Zydeco will provide just the right ambiance and keep your guests moving. New Orleans has a long musical history that combines classic blues and jazz with French and African influences. Brass, accordions, and drums will keep the party moving along at a festive pace.
ere are a few drinks that are synonymous with New Orleans. The Hurricane, Sazerac, and Ramos Gin Fizz are all staples in the French Quarter. These drinks will take a little time to prepare and do require some special ingredients, but it will be worth it. If your guests like beer, Abita is a popular Louisiana brewery and their website has a beer finder so you will know where you can pick some up.
Food is crucial to a great Mardi Gras bash. I mean, it is FAT Tuesday.
That being said, the options are endless. There are a variety of menu suggestions online ranging from sit-down feasts to hand held items and small plates. If the idea is
to bring the feel of NOLA to your event, there are a few staples that can't be left out.
Crawfish Etoufee is a saucy bit of deliciousness that is typically served over rice or toasted bread. It is rich...containing up to a cup and a half of butter, but to eat it once a year...so worth it.
Muffalettas and Po'Boys are traditional sandwiches in New Orleans, especially during Mardi Gras. It is easy to make a large sandwich and cut it into smaller pieces. Muffalettas are typically made with Italian cold cuts, cheese, and olive salad. Po' Boys include some type of meat with remoulade, lettuce, and tomatoes served on french bread.
Dirty Rice, Red Beans and Rice, or Jambalaya are all great choices when looking for a traditional side.
No Mardi Gras celebration is complete without a King Cake. King Cakes can be ordered online, but this usually needs to be done in advance. They can also be expensive. If time is a factor, fear not, there are plenty of recipes available.
Bananas Foster is also a traditional NOLA dessert. Don't be afraid to try this classic.
The list of foods goes on and on. Check around online, as there are tons of resources out there with menu options ranging from Mardi Gras Ball to Mardi Gras street food.
There are some great places out there to buy your authentic Mardi Gras party supplies:
Grab a king cake at Kingcakes.com
The Cajun Grocer has food and music options to help make planning that much easier.
There you have it, all the basics you need to get off on the right foot and party like a boss NOLA style!