Mardi Gras is the celebration leading up to Easter, and marks the last day of revelry before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. Floats and parades are a longstanding tradition in New Orleans dating back to the 1850s, and tossing trinkets from the floats is another of those traditions. The phrase, "Throw me something, mister" is one that should be shouted if you're looking to collect some goodies!
Purple (representing justice), green (for faith) and gold (for power) are the traditional colors seen throughout the festivities. Look for (or make) velvet table runners in one of the three colors, or use tulle fabric to drape around a centerpiece, over a mantel or around your bar area. You'll easily find fabric at your local craft store.
The more beads, the merrier when it comes to Mardi Gras! They're easy to find at party stores, and any color combination and size are welcome. Pass them out to your party guests as they arrive, strew them around your tables or fill glass vases of different heights and shapes with a combination of matching Christmas ball ornaments and beads. Check your party or craft stores for supplies.
It's a rule that all float riders in the Mardi Gras parades must wear masks, and if they like your mask, they'll toss you more goodies! Jester and harlequin masks, sequins, glitter and feathers are common for Mardi Gras masks. Recommend that your guests wear a mask to your fête, and plan to have simple ones on hand in case someone forgets. You could also buy pretty, colorfully decorated masks with feathers and sequins to use as decorations placed around your table and bar settings, or hang them around the room.
Coins (called doubloons) and plastic cups (some look like goblets) are more fun items tossed from the floats to revelers during the Mardi Gras parades. The colorful, silver-dollar-size coins and cups are symbols of royalty. Get your hands on some coins to scatter on tables or place in shallow, clear glass bowls as part of your centerpiece. Break out the pretty goblets for your guests to drink from. Look for plastic or glass goblet-shaped cups in rich purple or green to match the colors of Mardi Gras.
There's no question that music can set the mood for a great party. Along with fabulous decorations, be sure to include zydeco, jazz, and the music of brass bands. Think Buckwheat Zydeco, the Neville Brothers, Fats Domino, Little Richard, and Wynton or Branford Marsalis for your tunes.
If you can't make it to New Orleans to celebrate Mardi Gras, celebrate at home! With a little planning and decorating inspiration, your guests will think they're in the French Quarter!
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