Celebrate this loud, food-loving holiday without leaving home. Keep your Mardi Gras party New Orleans-authentic with bold, colorful decorations and Cajun-style cuisine.

By Sarah Martens
Updated January 14, 2021
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Gather your family for a midwinter holiday celebration full of bright colors, elaborate dishes, and fun. Mardi Gras is celebrated all around the world on the day before Ash Wednesday as a way to indulge before the start of Lent. The holiday has been celebrated in New Orleans on a grand scale, including parades and masquerades, since the early 1700s when the French settled there. In most recent years, the city draws millions for its annual festivities. Plan the ultimate Mardi Gras party with our ideas for decorations, activities, and delicious food.

mardi gras beignets
Credit: gwenael le vot/Getty Images

Mardi Gras Party Decor

Vibrant decorations are the key to a successful Mardi Gras celebration. Be sure to include the official colors of the holiday in your decor: purple, green, and gold. Start with an exaggerated table setting. Cover your table with a patterned Fleur de Lis fabric (from $7, Etsy). Sprinkle strings of beads ($10 for 48, Oriental Trading) and confetti across the entire length for bright pops of color. Add balloons and ribbon garland to your entryway. Play some New Orleans brass, zydeco, or swing music, and bring the Big Easy to your living room.

DIY Mardi Gras Masks and Games

Start off the festivities with some exciting party games and activities. Set up a make-your-own-mask station for partygoers to create a funky Fat Tuesday look. Start with inexpensive paper masks ($5 for 24, Oriental Trading). Feathers, sequins, and glitter make for the perfect decorated designs. Add a fun twist to your party and dress up in zany Mardi Gras costumes. They can be anything from wearing purple and gold to dressing like a medieval court jester. Each and every costume has vivacious colors and goes over the top.

Test your knowledge of Mardi Gras with an exciting trivia challenge. Create questions about the history, the food, and the fun of Mardi Gras. Questions can include: What does Mardi Gras translate to in English? (Answer: Fat Tuesday.) What are the official colors of Mardi Gras and what do they mean? (Purple for justice, green for faith, and gold for power.) Have a little fun while learning about the holiday you're celebrating.

If you're partying with the whole family, get your kids involved. Put together a parade filled with masks and costumes that everyone can enjoy.

Easy Mardi Gras Menu

It wouldn't be an at-home Mardi Gras celebration without a menu filled with classic New Orleans dishes. Start with a classic Cajun appetizer and finish the meal with a fluffy fried beignet. These delicious Mardi Gras recipes will be the highlight of your party.

Catfish Po'Boys
Credit: Andy Lyons

Appetizer: Catfish Po'Boys

Start your Mardi Gras menu with a tried-and-true favorite. These po'boys are perfect for a crowd when sliced and served in small portions. Our take on the classic gets zest from a quick remoulade and pickles. Serve up the sandwiches with plenty of crunchy fresh lettuce and tomatoes.

Get the Recipe: Catfish Po'Boys

One-Pot Chicken and Shrimp Jambalaya
Credit: Jacob Fox

Main Course: One-Pot Chicken and Shrimp Jambalaya

Mix up the main course with a traditional Mardi Gras dish. Our take on classic jambalaya is filled with favorites like peppers, rice, shrimp, and chicken but topped with fresh celery leaves. Serve it from the oven with plenty of hot sauce.

Get the Recipe: One-Pot Chicken and Shrimp Jambalaya

Cajun-Stuffed Baby Sweet Peppers
Credit: Scott Little

Side Dish: Cajun-Stuffed Baby Sweet Peppers

Keep the sides spicy! Our Mardi Gras menu wouldn't be complete without these sweet and saucy stuffed peppers. This Cajun recipe is loaded with cream cheese, creole mustard, and hot pepper sauce. Serve the dish with pepperoncini peppers for even more heat.

Get the Recipe: Cajun-Stuffed Baby Sweet Peppers

Grilled Okra and Tomatoes
Credit: Constatine Poulos

Side Dish: Grilled Okra and Tomatoes

This Mardi Gras recipe is all about the dip. Filled with lemon juice and balsamic vinegar, it's the perfect partner for crispy grilled okra. Keep the okra in spears for maximum dunking. Grill the okra ahead and keep warm in the oven until party time.

Get the Recipe: Grilled Okra and Tomatoes

French Market Beignets
Credit: Kritsada Panichgul

Dessert: French Market Beignets

No Mardi Gras celebration is complete without a festive dessert for all to enjoy. Fried to perfection, this Mardi Gras dessert recipe is a must-have at your party. Finish the homemade beignets with powdered sugar and a drizzle of honey.

Get the Recipe: French Market Beignets

Hurricane cocktail with umbrella
Credit: Matt Clark

Drink: Hurricane

Sip on something strong for your Mardi Gras party! This take on the classic New Orleans cocktail boasts light and dark rum plus a trio of fresh fruit juices. A splash of grenadine gives the drink its signature pink hue. Finish each glass with fresh citrus slices and a cherry.

Get the Recipe: Hurricane

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