If you are searching for the quintessential example of “going out in a blaze of glory,” look no further than Mardi Gras. Before it became a Louisiana state holiday in 1875, it was a Christian holiday in Rome (and before that, may have been a pagan ritual) that took place on the final night preceding 40 days of Lent. It was historically known as the last massive party before revelers would seek repentance. It was also the last time these Romans would gorge on meat, eggs, milk and cheese before the nearly six weeks of fish and fasting. Luckily, this massive fete, also known as Carnival in other locales around the world, has endured throughout the years as a colorful, joyous celebration (and yes, binging on dairy is still a thing, too).
The party doesn’t have to be limited to New Orleans. We have some tips to help you throw a Mardi Gras party that would make the Bourbon Street throngs thrilled.
Create your krewe
In Mardi Gras parlance, a krewe is a band of revelers who have come together to host a ball, ride a float, design matching costumes or team up for other color-drenched forms of celebration. Essentially, these are associations of professional partiers. The oldest ones, like the Krewe of Comus, have been around since as early as 1856.
If you’re inviting people over to celebrate, we strongly encourage you to create your own krewe, and remind you that costumes are an essential element. Bob from next door is not allowed inside if he tries to wear a Polo and Crocs. Speaking of which…
Exile all without masks
Masks are required by state law if you ride a float. They should be required at your party too.
Hide a baby in the king cake
Yes, we’re aware this suggestion sounds vaguely illegal, but we assure you it’s only plastic and this is a long-standing tradition. King cakes are a New Orleans staple, made from sweet brioche dough and covered in multicolored frosting, before a baby is often baked into the middle. Whoever discovers it wins!
Fun fact: This strange custom started when a traveling salesman who was flush with miniature toy dolls approached a popular baker and convinced him to bake them into certain cakes. We wish we were making this up.
Blast New Orleans brass and zydeco
A party is only as strong as its playlist, so usher in the noise of Bourbon Street by blasting local favorites like Preservation Jazz Hall Band, Dirty Dozen Jazz Band or Trombone Shorty.
Bead the crowd
Immediately upon entry, all guests should be given beads (or pelted with them from above, if your house is two stories and you’re sinister). The color of the beads, determined by the king of the first daytime Mardi Gras in 1872, have significance. Purple means justice, gold represents power and green is for faith. Originally, the idea was to toss someone a certain color of bead based on the qualities that person displayed. They also used to be made of glass….so the margin for error was low!
Have a hurricane
The official drink of Mardi Gras. Smooth going down, but nearly guaranteed to strap you with a headache. Worth it! Here’s the recipe:
2 oz dark rum
2 oz light rum
2 oz passion fruit juice
1 tsp grenadine
½ lime, juiced
½ orange, juiced (and a slice to garnish)
Mix ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into an ice-filled glass. Pretend you’re on college spring break. Repeat.
Spice up your snack selection
In the tradition of Cajun cooking, the spicier the better. So pick up some tongue-torching snacks, like what’s in the Hot and Spicy Crate, to keep your Mardi pardi hoppin’.
2017’s Mardi Gras culminates with Fat Tuesday on February 28, so don’t wait on sending out those invitations (and please don’t let ours get lost in the mail again).