It's Mardi Gras time, so let the good times roll. You and your sweetheart don't have to have a major bank roll to get the party going. Mardi Gras takes place in various cities throughout the world, but it's strongly connected with New Orleans. Mardi Gras -- French for Fat Tuesday -- takes place the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. It's the final day of the carnival, which begins each year on Jan. 6, the day of Epiphany. Mardi Gras is the last chance for fun and levity before Lent begins. Partygoers dress in bright costumes accented by bead garlands in green, gold and purple.
Mardi Gras is awash in brilliant colors from the floats and costumes of the carnival. Recreate the bright purples, pinks, yellows, greens and gold with spray-paint and spray glitter. Gather armloads of branches from your backyard. Place them in buckets of water. A day or so before the party, spray-paint them in neon metallic colors. Glitter spray about 20 percent of the branches. Place them around the room, by the bar station, at the entryway and by the food tables.
Masks and Feathers
Mardi Gras carnival-goers have taken to wearing masks decorated with feathers, sequins and faux jewels, perhaps to hide their identity or just create an air of mystery. Think big. Really big. Cut out masks -- 18 inches wide and 12 inches high -- from construction paper. Spray-paint them in metallic colors and hang them on the walls. Decorate the masks with swirls, dots and squiggles of contrasting metallic fabric paint. Cut out feather shapes from double-sided metallic paper. Snip the shape into feathers.
During the Mardi Gras celebration, bead garlands and necklaces are everywhere. Viewers of the parades throw them from the balconies down to the people in the street. Float-riders fling the bead necklaces to those watching. Drag out your Christmas decorations to see what you can use for the party. Bead garlands can be piled into glass jars, strung as streamers or cut into necklaces to give to each guest as he arrives. Place small Christmas balls in bright colors such as pink, aqua, lime green, purple and red in clear glass bowls.
Dye Tablecloths and Runners
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to dye old sheets in purples, bright green and shocking pink to use as table clothes. Layer the sheets so different colors show through. Add a black table runner down the center of each table to keep the look consistent.
You have to serve food at the party anyway so make it do double-duty as decoration. Shrimp jambalaya is a mainstay of New Orleans, the home of Mardi Gras. Serve jambalaya shrimp on skewers arranged in glass vases rather than spread out on a platter. Serve sazerac, the traditional drink of New Orleans on a side table.
King cake is said to have originated with the early settlers of New Orleans and has become part of the Mardi Gras celebration. Tradition has it that there is a "gold" bean hidden in the cake. The woman who gets it in her slice becomes the queen of the carnival and chooses the king. Continue the tradition with a King cake decorated in purple, green and gold. Crown your own queen and king at the party.
- Special Occasions; John Hadamuscin
- Mardi Gras New Orleans: Mardi Gras History and Traditions
Katie Jensen's first book was published in 2000. Since then she has written additional books as well as screenplays, website content and e-books. Rosehill holds a Master of Business Administration from Arizona State University. Her articles specialize in business and personal finance. Her passion includes cooking, eating and writing about food.