We recommend the Arthur Hardy Mardi Gras Guide for selecting your theme – it contains valuable information about Mardi Gras, Mardi Gras traditions, and New Orleans that cannot be found anywhere else. This guide is the Mardi Gras “Bible” around the Crescent City! When planning your party – don’t leave home without it!
1. Send out Invitations
Remember to indicate on the invitation that this is a Mardi Gras Party and that guests should wear official Mardi Gras Colors – purple, green, and gold! As the host, you’ll want to be decked out in all your Mardi Gras finery–chose from decorate yourself selections with a MG Cap, or just accessorize or Beads, and for a really fun look–a Feather Mask!
2. Select a Menu –
Decide when, where, and how you are going to serve the food. New Orleans is known for its “good eats,” and you can certainly “jazz” up the evening with some Cajun eating! Continue your Mardi Gras theme when decorating your tables with purple, green and gold.
3. Mardi Gras Decorations & Atmosphere
A party without music is like New Orleans without the French Quarter–incomplete! Get ready to boogie to the sounds of the Carnival Season if you put on Mardi Gras Music! Play it throughout the party for a festive effect! Beads are really versatile–besides wearing them, you can also decorate with them! Hang them from ceiling fans, furniture, anywhere and everywhere!
Make it known where the party’s action is wtih a Mardi Gras Flag! People will know they’re at the right place when they see the crisp purple, green, and gold hanging at your party destination!
String up the magical mood of carnival when you hang up a Mardi Gras Light Set over your partygoers–the purple, green, and gold colors will definitely set the mood!
1. Arrival of Guests
Welcome Guests and give each a strand or two of beads to wear around their neck to get them into the Mardi Gras spirit – it’s kind of like the leis that are placed around your neck when you get to the Hawaiian Airport, New Orleans style! Door prizes are a welcome idea for any party since everyone loves to get free stuff! These prizes should probably coincide with the MG theme that you chose – How about some clever Crawfish Suspenders or Mardi Gras Collector Items?
Create an air of mystery and give each guest a Feather Mask when they come. It’s fun to unmask everyone later in the evening and see who all the mystery people are!!
2. Games and Activities
Mardi Gras and New Orleans Trivia for the Jeopardy-loving partygoers, or for a more sit-down type of party.
Play Who Got the Baby Card Game
Play Mardi Gras Madness
For the wilder set – how about some fiesta limbo? Maybe some Carnival Charades?
Possibly make your party a Mardi Gras Costume Party or Ball and give out costume awards for Most MG spirit, Most Creative, etc.
You may also elect to choose a King and a Queen. They might have the best costumes, they might be the Guests of Honor, or you can just pick out of a hat! They can have the honor of leading the first dance or whatever you choose.
3. Party Wrap-up
Time for party favors, awards, and prizes! Some ideas are:
Feather Masks–Many Varieties
Doubloons–Official New Orleans Mardi Gras Doubloons
Give your warmest good-byes!
You’re alone on this one! Assemble your own “krewe” to help pick up after the festivities!
Enjoy The Party!!
King Cake Traditional Recipe
- 1/2 cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees)
- 2 packages active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar
- 3 1/2 – 4 1/2 cups flour unsifted
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest, this is lemon rind, grated
- 1/2 cup warm milk
- 5 egg yolks
- 1 stick butter cut into slices and softened, plus 2 tablespoons more softened butter
- 1 egg slightly beaten with 1 tablespoon milk
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 1″ plastic baby doll
Pour the warm water into a small shallow bowl, and sprinkle yeast and 2 teaspoons sugar into it. Allow the yeast and sugar to rest for three minutes then mix thoroughly. Set bowl in a warm place for ten minutes, or until yeast bubbles up and mixture almost doubles in volume. Combine 3 1/2 cups of flour, remaining sugar, nutmeg and salt, and sift into a large mixing bowl. Stir in lemon zest. Separate center of mixture to form a hole and pour in yeast mixture and milk. Add egg yolks and, using a wooden spoon, slowly combine dry ingredients into the yeast/milk mixture. When mixture is smooth, beat in 8 tablespoons butter (1 tablespoon at a time) and continue to beat 2 minutes, or until dough can be formed into a medium-soft ball.
Place ball of dough on a lightly floured surface and knead like bread. While kneading, sprinkle up to 1 cup more of flour (1 tablespoon at a time) over the dough. When dough is no longer sticky, knead 10 minutes more until shiny and elastic.
Using a pastry brush, coat the inside of a large bowl evenly with one tablespoon softened butter. Place dough ball in the bowl and rotate until the entire surface is buttered. Cover bowl with a moderately thick kitchen towel and place in a draft-free spot for about 1 1/2 hours, or until the dough doubles in volume. Using a pastry brush, coat a large baking sheet with one tablespoon of butter and set aside.
Remove dough from bowl and place on lightly floured surface. Using your fist, punch dough down forcefully. Sprinkle cinnamon over the top, pat and shake dough into a cylinder. Twist dough to form a curled cylinder and loop cylinder onto the buttered baking sheet. Pinch the ends together to complete the circle. Cover dough with towel and set it in draft-free spot for 45 minutes, or until the circle of dough doubles in volume. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Brush top and sides of cake with egg wash and bake on middle rack of oven for 25 to 35 minutes until golden brown. Place cake on wire rack to cool. If desired, you can hide the plastic baby in the cake at this time.
- Green, purple, & yellow paste
- 12 tablespoons sugar
Squeeze a dot of green paste in palm of hand. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons sugar over the paste and rub together quickly. Place this mixture on wax paper and wash hands to remove color. Repeat process for other 2 colors. Place aside.
- 3 cups confectioners sugar
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 3 – 6 tablespoons water
Combine sugar, lemon juice and 3 tablespoons water until smooth. If icing is too stiff, add more water until spreadable. Spread icing over top of cake. Immediately sprinkle the colored sugars in individual rows consisting of about 2 rows of green, purple and yellow.
Cake is served in 2″ – 3″ pieces.
33″ Metallic Beads
Beads in New Orleans
Classic transparent beads belong to Mardi Gras just as much as Mardi Gras belongs to the City of New Orleans! You can drive down St. Charles Avenue any time of the year and still see them hanging in the huge oak trees that line the road. If you grew up in New Orleans, seeing those wayward strands was a daily reminder that carnival season was always just around the corner!
A stroll down the French Quarter any day of the year will always reveal many beads still hanging on to the wrought iron balconies. Beads are a large part of life in New Orleans year round.
Here is a little primer on beads and sizes:
First of all, you can’t have enough! The more the merrier, to trade, to collect and to throw. Think the size of Texas when you are thinking about beads!
Standard Bead Sizes
- 5 mm 3/16 inch or slightly under 1/8 inch
- 7.5 mm 5/8 inch or just over 1/4 inch (width of pencil)
- 12 mm 7/16 inch or almost 1/2 inch
- 18 mm 11/16 inch or almost 3/4 inch (size of dime)
Chart Length (based on 5’7″ height)
- 24 inches – under the neck
- 33 inches – middle of chest bone
- 48 inches – by the waist
- 60 inches – top of thighs
- 72 inches – above the knees
Beads are for everyone and everything!
Beads can be used to decorate ourselves, our cars, houses, boats, and sometimes we even decorate our dogs! These are perfect for arts and crafts, too.
Ideas to imitate a King Cake
We suggest two alternate methods for creating your own King Cake. The first is buying doughnut holes, doughnut twists, or coffeecake. Doughnuts and coffeecakes are similar in taste and texture to King Cake, especially if there is cinnamon mixed in the dough. If you would like to use doughnut holes, buy about 5 dozen holes (the cinnamon cake-like work very well) and place them in an ’0′ shape on a large plate or cookie sheet. If you are using doughnut twists, buy 2 dozen, and again, place them in an ‘O’ shape on a large plate or cookie sheet. If you are using coffeecake, simply place on large plate or cookie sheet.
If you can only get glazed doughnuts or plain coffeecake and would like a cinnamon taste, mix 2/3 cup brown sugar, 1 1/4 sticks butter, and 2 teaspoons cinnamon in a pan, boil for 1 minute. Cool slightly, then pour over your arranged doughnuts or coffeecake.
Purchase purple, green and yellow store bought sugar. (Look in baking department.) Make the first section purple, second section green, and the third section gold, repeating until the entire cake has about 5 sections of each color. Before you cut your cake, place a small plastic kingcake baby in one of the pieces where the person eating the cake can easily discover it.
The second method we suggest is using Monkey Bread. Monkey Bread is a delicious Louisiana treat, and the perfect surrogate cake. If you have the time, we definitely recommend that you invest it in this recipe. You will go absolutely nuts for this bread, which can also be used year-round!
- 4 cans buttermilk biscuits
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 1/4 stick butter
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 large plastic bag
Preheat oven to 350F. Separate biscuits and cut into quarters. Roll quarters into balls. Mix 2/3 cup sugar and 1-tsp cinnamon in plastic bag. Shake biscuit rolls in the plastic bag until evenly coated. Place biscuit rolls in Bundt pan (or shape into an “O” on cookie sheet). Pour extra sugar mixture left over from bag on top. Mix brown sugar, butter, and 1 tsp cinnamon in saucepan. Boil for 1 minute. Pour over biscuits. Bake at 350F for 35 minutes.
Purchase purple, green and yellow store bought sugar. (Look in the baking department.) Make the first section purple, second section green, and the third section gold, repeating until the entire cake has about 3 sections of each color. Before you cut your cake, place a small plastic kingcake baby in one of the pieces where the person eating the cake can easily discover it.
Enjoy… and Happy Mardi Gras!
33″ Metallic Beads
Three weeks before the party:
-If you are ordering Mardi Gras Items, keep in mind that this is the busiest time of year for the Mardi Gras business, so therefore, leave plenty of time to receive your merchandise. Also many items sell out in advance.
-Learn about Mardi Gras from the library or with Mardi Gras Guide
-Create guest list for the party
-Date of party:
-Time: (starting, ending):
-Plan and select decorations, party favors, centerpieces, door prizes, etc. Many economical alternatives are available.
-Plan and select costumes, masks, beads and doubloons
-Plan the menu. A complete New Orleans Food & Recipe Guide here.
-Prepare grocery list, and don’t forget the Kingcake for dessert.
-Select and hire caterer/serving help (if needed)
-Book hall or party facility (if needed)
-Don’t forget the Music
A few days before the party:
-Call any guests who have not responded
-Buy groceries and beverages
One day before the party:
-Clean house, party room facility, or confirm reservation at hall
-Set up and arrange party room
-Get out serving pieces
-Coordinate last-minute arrangements with -caterer, servers
The day of the party:
-Decorate party room(s)
-Prepare and arrange remaining food
-Coordinate set-up, service, cleanup with hired helpers
-Mentally “travel through” party
-Dress in costume and be festive
-Await arrival of guests, set the mood and turn the music up high!
Remember if throwing beads say “Throw me somethin’, Mister!” Just like in New Orleans at the Mardi Gras.
Colors of Mardi Gras
We hear the music, we taste the king cake, but for many of us it’s the sight of the green, gold and purple that brings the reality of the Carnival season home. Mardi Gras wasn’t always so consistently colored, though.
The Krewe of Rex first introduced this particular scheme in 1872, but it wasn’t until twenty years later that the meaning of each color was revealed. The theme of Rex’s 1892 parade was “Symbolism of Colors,” which helped to establish the tradition of decorating for the season with green, gold and purple. According to Rex’s interpretation, purple represented justice, green was symbolic of faith and gold represented power.
Today the Mardi Gras colors are so much a symbol of the season that they adorn banners, clothing, costumes, masks, beads, and even constitute the many colors of sugar sprinkled on every king cake.