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How to Host a Great Mardi Gras Party

Updated on June 19, 2013

What is Mardi Gras?

Mardi Gras is an annual tradition along the Southern Coast, although more cities are beginning to celebrate as well. Mardi Gras, or "Fat Tuesday", is the pagan celebration before Ash Wednesday when people give up something for the Christian season of Lent. Fat Tuesday is the last day before they give something up (usually alcohol, meat, sex, caffeine or other items), and people used to party, and indulge, before they had to give something up.

This tradition comes from the French, and cities that have a large French influence typically celebrate the event. Mardi Gras is celebrated differently throughout the country, but most people associate Mardi Gras with the 3 days before Ash Wednesday. In Mobile, where the tradition started, Mardi Gras parties and events start in November, before Thanksgiving. Krews, or society's are the people who organize large parties and enter floats into the big parades. These Krews usually plan and decide on themes in the early meetings, and begin building their floats. After January, typically the parades start, and run through till Fat Tuesday.

While New Orleans might be the most famous of Mardi Gras celebrations, they are held in many coastal towns along the Gulf Coast. Pensacola, Mobile - where Mardi Gras originated, Biloxi, Panama City, Destin, and other smaller towns all participate. If you would like to host your own Mardi Gras party, its not really hard. All you really have to do is have fun, and as they say, "Laissez les bons temps rouler!", which means "Let the good times roll!".

Deciding the Party

First off, Mardi Gras is traditionally a family party. Everyone is invited to almost every Mardi Gras parade (with the exception of a couple in New Orleans). Typically, Mardi Gras parties take place on Fat Tuesday, but they can be held at any time during the entire Mardi Gras season, and typically, smaller parties are held on other dates than large "Krew" parties. With that being said, you need to first decide if your party will be family friendly, or if it will strictly be an adult affair. This will greatly help you in choosing decorations, food, and activities for your party. If you will be having a fun family affair, typically, having plenty of beads, food, and activities will be your main goal, so that everyone has a good time. Adult parties tend to get a little crazy at times, and almost always include alcohol. Typically these parties revolve around the food, drink, and partying. You need to figure out how many people will be attending, in order to know how much stuff to get, depending on the type of party you are hosting.

The Colors

Traditionally, the colors of Mardi Gras is Purple, Yellow, and Green. When you go shopping for decorations, these are the colors you will be looking for. Not everything has to say Mardi gras. Provided you use those 3 colors, everyone will know what this party is. Some things you should get in these colors include table covers, decorations, beads, invites, streamers, balloons, cups, napkins, plates, and silverware. And don't forget the decorations. Table pieces, banners, and other things, such as lights, all can be color coordinated.

Beads, Beads, and More Beads!

One of the biggest things associated with Mardi Gras parties has to be the beads. Beads are an important part of Mardi Gras, and the more the better. Decorate the entire house or affair with plenty of beads, and have plenty to throw out throughout the night. People love beads, and they are cheap, making it easy to get plenty. Just make sure to get yours early, as party stores usually sell out during Mardi Gras season, especially if you live in an area that celebrates Mardi Gras!

Costumes

Another tradition of Mardi Gras parties is the costumes. While its easier to offer people a mask making station, a costume station is a little harder. When you send out your invitations, make sure to let people know if your Mardi Gras party is a costume party. If you are going to have costume's, make it fun and have a Costume party. Make sure to let people know well in advance though, as people usually like to go all out on their costumes and masks, and need time to find the perfect one. Make sure to let people know to go crazy and wild with their costumes. The bigger, more crazy, the better. While some costumes follow the Green, Yellow, and Purple color theme of Mardi Gras, it isn't a requirement. Boas, feathers, glitter, and more should all be used in your costume, in order to make it as flamboyant as possible.

Masks

Masks are a very big part of Mardi Gras, and people go all out on their masks, and their costumes, with some people spending big bucks on theirs. You shouldn't disappoint either, and invest in a good quality mask. You can continue the fun by having a "Make Your Own Mask" station at your party. Invest in a good assortment of colored glitter, some blank masks, sparkly accents, glue, feathers, and some jewels, and you will be all set. This is a great idea, especially if you live in an area where masks are not readily available, and its fun at parties.

The Food

The food is almost half the reason why you go to a Mardi Gras party. Make sure to serve traditional Cajun favorites, such as shrimp creole, jambalaya, red beans and rice, seafood gumbo, and crayfish. Mix in other traditional snack foods for those that don't like Cajun food (but who doesn't?). Make sure to have plenty of food though, as people will be eating all night long! For dessert, Moon Pies are a tradition. Also, you need to make sure to have a couple King cakes, especially if you happen to have a lot of guests. But make sure to only have one prize! Or, designate King and Queen cakes (one for men, and one for women), in order to determine the King and Queen of your party!

The Cake

Thew King Cake is a true Mardi Gras tradition. King cakes are simple cinnamon-roll like cakes that are covered in icing, with Mardi Gras colored sprinkles Traditionally, a King cake is baked with a toy baby inside of it. Traditionally, the King cake is almost like a raffle, but instead of winning something, usually the person that finds the baby has to either host the party next year, or bring the King cakes the next year, or both. They are also declared the King or Queen of the Mardi Gras Party. If you happen to purchase your cakes from a bakery, make sure to find out if they have the trinket baked inside or not. If you happen to have a lot of guests, you will need more than one cake, and unless you are planning on having a King and Queen cake, you will want to only have one cake with a prize.

Drinks

If you are hosting an adult Mardi Gras party, you will most likely be having alcoholic drinks. Traditionally, the drink of choice (at least in New Orleans), is the Hurricane. If you are hosting the party, you might find it easier to make the party BYOD (Bring Your Own Drinks). If you are going to be supplying the alcohol, make sure to have a good selection of beer, and liquors. Traditionally, drinks of Mardi Gras are made with rum. Southern Comfort, a whiskey, is also a New Orleans tradition. Try to find cups in the colors of Mardi Gras (Purple, Yellow, and Green), in order to keep with the theme. Don't forget to get straws and stirrers in the same colors as well! No matter who brings the alcohol, make sure that everyone that does drink at your party does so responsibly, and either has a designated driver or gets a taxi.

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If you Happen to be in the South...

If you happen to be in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, or Louisiana during Mardi Gras season, there are plenty of large parades and events that you can go to. While Mardi Gras parades started in Mobile, Alabama, cities all along the Emerald Coast, from Panama City, Florida, all the way to New Orleans celebrates the traditions. Some of the larger parades take place in New Orleans, Mobile, Biloxi, Pensacola, and Destin, Florida.

Will you be celebrating Mardi Gras this year?

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  • silvershark profile image
    Author

    Kenneth Moody 4 years ago from Destin, Florida

    Your more than welcome! I'm glad I was able to answer all your questions! Mardi Gras in New Orleans is quite crazy! I've been only once... I usually celebrate either in Destin, or in Mobile, where the party originated.

  • loveofnight profile image

    loveofnight 4 years ago from Baltimore, Maryland

    A well written hub indeed, you have answered all of the questions that I ever had about Mardi Gras. I have often wanted to go to New Orleans to take part in the celebration and the food alone makes me want to be there.Thanks for such a thorough review