Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, falls on February 28th this year. This celebration is held the day before Ash Wednesday, which begins the 40-day period of fasting known as Lent in the Christian faith. Regardless of your religious affiliation, Mardi Gras can be a great way to celebrate the coming of spring! And in case Mardi Gras only brings to mind debauchery in New Orleans, there are plenty of fun traditions to make sure even the kids are having a good time. Here are a few ways to throw a family-friendly Mardi Gras party.
Decorate with the signature colors of the occasion. Head to the nearest party supply or dollar store and pick up all things green, purple and gold! These colors aren’t arbitrary; in 1892, they were declared the colors of Mardi Gras with green standing for faith, purple signifying for justice and gold symbolizing power. Jazzing up your house with tablecloths, streamers, balloons, confetti and tableware in these colors will scream Mardi Gras, if nothing else does! And don’t forget the matching beaded necklaces to hand out!
Create a mask-making station. Head to the craft store and stock up on supplies to make Mardi Gras masks! You can purchase pre-made cardboard masks, or use foam or poster board to cut out the shape of a mask yourself. Just punch holes in the sides for ribbons to secure it. You can even use half of a paper plate and a Popsicle stick! Whichever way you go, make sure to have markers, paint, glitter, feathers and jewels in the themed colors, and a few bottles of glue.
Set up carnival games. Almost any kids’ carnival game can be given a Mardi Gras twist, simply by using purple, green and gold. Keep everyone busy and having a good time by setting up multiple game stations at once. Use buckets and bean bags to create a bean bag toss; use cones and colorful rings to create a ring toss game; use bottles, sand, funnels and scoops for a sand art station; and consider designating a coloring table crayons and themed-coloring sheets.
Serve beignets, a King Cake, and jambalaya. Beignets are donut-like treats and are a staple of Mardi Gras! Order them from a bakery or try your hand at making them at home using this recipe.
The King Cake is a true New Orleans tradition. A cross between a coffee cake and a French pastry and iced with the signature colors, this cake is special because a plastic baby is hidden somewhere inside. (This tradition symbolizes the baby Jesus, also known as the King of Kings, revealing himself to the Wise Men during the Epiphany.) The person who gets the slice with the plastic baby in it is dubbed “King” for the day (and is also supposed to be the one to host the next party). Purchase a plastic crown for the party and let the “King” wear it throughout the party!
No Mardi Gras party is complete without jambalaya, but most kids won’t like it because it’s typically a spicy dish. You can either make a version for adults and a separate version for the children, or just go with one kid-friendly recipe which you can find with a quick Google search.