Gather your friends 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. Today, 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 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 fabric. Sprinkle strings of beads and confetti across the entire length for bright pops of color.
Add balloons and ribbon garland to your entryway, drawing guests in the moment they walk through the door. Play some New Orleans brass, zydeco, or swing music, and bring the Big Easy to your living room.
Mardi Gras Must-Have: Welcome your party guests with a string of beads! It isn't Mardi Gras unless everyone has beads hanging around their necks.
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. Feathers, sequins, and glitter make for the perfect masks. For more specific instructions, check out our step-by-step Masquerade Masks.
Add a fun twist to your party and ask guests to 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. Once everyone arrives, have the group vote on who wore the craziest look.
Test your guests' 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.
Appetizer: Shrimp and Sausage 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.
Main Course: Jambalaya Egg Bake
Mix up the main course with a traditional Mardi Gras dish. Our take on classic jambalaya is filled with favorites like andouille sausage, shrimp, and chicken but topped with creamy baked eggs. Serve it from the oven with a sprinkle of fresh green onions.
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.
Side Dish: Jambalaya Fried Okra
This Mardi Gras recipe is all about the dip. Filled with classic jambalaya ingredients like shrimp, hot pepper sauce, and creole mustard, it's the perfect partner for crispy cornmeal-fried okra. Slice the okra into spears for maximum dunking. Fry the okra ahead and keep warm in the oven until party time.
For the Kids: Slow-Cooker Cajun Mac and Cheese
Serve the kids a Mardi Gras recipe they're sure to love. This slow-cooker take on classic mac gets a Cajun spin with bell pepper, onion, and andouille sausage. Worried about the spice? Swap in mild sausage and omit the Louisiana hot sauce.
Dessert: King Cake
No Mardi Gras celebration is complete without a festive King Cake for all to enjoy. Topped with colorful sprinkles, this Mardi Gras dessert recipe is a must-have at your party. Get the look by using circular cookie cutters to contain sprinkles into a fun pattern.
Classic Cocktail: 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 it its signature pink hue. Finish each glass with fresh citrus slices and a cherry.