Mardi Gras is a fun holiday with vibrant traditions and delicious Louisiana-inspired cuisine, so why not get your friends and family together for a Mardi Gras-themed party? Even if you’re hundreds of miles away from New Orleans, you can host a Mardi Gras bash that will bring the celebration to you.
How to Throw a Mardi Gras Party
You’ll need festive decorations, party games and a spread of delicious food.
How to Decorate for Mardi Gras
Mardi Gras is known for its bright, tricolor decorations. The traditional Mardi Gras colors are purple to symbolize justice, green to symbolize faith and gold to symbolize power, and any good party will decorate using this color scheme.
Here are a couple fun ideas:
- Place purple, green and gold balloons around the party area.
- Use a metallic backdrop ($10) as a makeshift photo station.
- Set any color-changing smart lightbulbs ($50) to purple and green.
- Look for a Mardi Gras piñata at your local party store.
- Use one of these Mardi Gras DIY centerpieces to decorate your table.
Don’t forget the staple of any good Mardi Gras event: bead necklaces ($8). The metallic necklaces are a staple at Mardi Gras parades, and your family will love layering them on.
What to Serve at Your Mardi Gras Bash
Once you have your Mardi Gras decorations squared away, it’s time to plan the menu. Good food is an essential for Mardi Gras—after all, it literally means Fat Tuesday!
Your menu will vary depending on whether you’re hosting a brunch, mid-afternoon party or nighttime soiree, but you’ll probably want to serve up some New Orleans-inspired recipes to pay homage to the event’s cultural roots. This could mean heaping platters of beans and rice, bowls of jambalaya or gumbo or a delicious seafood dish! Here’s a list of our best recipes for Mardi Gras to give you inspiration.
Taste of Home
What about a Mardi Gras dessert? In addition to foods like beignets or cupcakes, you simply have to serve a traditional New Orleans king cake—it’s a Mardi Gras staple. The cakes typically have a swirl of cinnamon inside and a sweet glaze over top, and it’s tradition to bake a tiny baby figurine ($6) into the treat. Whoever ends up with the baby in their slice is supposed to have a year of good luck and prosperity—and in many circles, they’re also responsible for hosting the party next year.
We can explain more about what is a king cake.
Editor’s Tip: Use this guide to figure out exactly how much food to serve.
Of course, Hurricanes are the unofficial drink of Mardi Gras, but if you’re hosting a party with kids, you can opt for a big pitcher of virgin Hurricanes for everyone to enjoy.
Fun Mardi Gras Activities for the Whole Family
You can keep the party going all day—or night—with these fun Mardi Gras games and activities:
Mardi Gras Mask Decorating
Masquerade masks are another staple of the holiday, so why not create a mask-decorating station? You’ll need plain masks ($10) and decorating supplies like paint, glue, glitter (if you dare) and Mardi Gras-colored feathers ($6). Kids and adults alike will have a blast creating fun masks to wear during the party.
Another way to get everyone involved in the festivities is with a selfie scavenger hunt! You can purchase scavenger hunt instructions ($12) or create your own list of mandatory selfies—in the photo booth, with the King Cake baby, wearing at least 10 necklaces, etc. At the end of the party, the person who completed the most selfies gets a prize to take home.
Pin the Mask on the Jester
You can put a festive twist on the traditional party game of “Pin the Tail on the Donkey” by purchasing or printing a cutout of a Mardi Gras jester. Your guests can take turns getting blindfolded and spun around, and then they have to try to get the jester’s mask onto his face.
With these Mardi Gras party ideas, you’ll be able to put together an unforgettable bash for your family and friends. Just don’t be surprised if it becomes an annual tradition!
1 / 24Taste of Home
Mardi Gras King Cake
This frosted king cake is the highlight of our annual Mardi Gras party. If you want to hide a token inside, do so by cutting a small slit in the bottom of the baked cake…and remember to warn your guests! —Lisa Mouton, Orlando, FloridaGo to Recipe Learn more about what is a king cake here.
Bourbon Pecan Pralines
Like authentic pecan pralines found in New Orleans, these treats are sweet, crunchy and rich! —Taste of Home Test KitchenGo to Recipe Your event isn’t complete without some of our best recipes for Mardi Gras.
New Orleans Beignets
These sweet, square and holeless French doughnuts are known as beignets. New Orleans’ traditional breakfast always includes a few of these powdered sugar delicacies. —Beth Dawson, Jackson, Louisiana (For another traditional Mardi Gras doughnut, try our paczki recipe.)Go to RecipeTaste of Home
Bananas Foster Sundaes
I have wonderful memories of eating bananas Foster in New Orleans, and as a dietitian, wanted to find a healthier version. I combined the best of two recipes and added my own tweaks to create this southern treat. —Lisa Varner, Charleston, South CarolinaGo to Recipe
Mardi Gras Cupcakes
Take these simple Mardi Gras cupcakes to a get-together and watch them disappear. Kids will love to help decorate them with the colorful sprinkles. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen, Milwaukee, WisconsinGo to Recipe
Turtle Praline Tart
This rich dessert is my own creation, and I’m very proud of it. It’s easy enough to make for everyday meals but special enough to serve guests or take to a potluck. —Kathy Specht, Clinton, MontanaGo to Recipe
Majestic Pecan Cake
This recipe truly lives up to its name. The pecan-dotted cake is stacked in three layers, and made-from-scratch frosting is the crowning touch.—Karen R. Jones, Claypool, IndianaGo to RecipeTaste of Home
Bananas Foster on the Grill
Bananas Foster is my husband’s favorite dessert, and this is one of the easiest recipes I’ve ever found. Not only is it delicious, it’s a great way to use those bananas that are a little too ripe to just peel and eat. —Rebecca Clark, Warrior, AlabamaGo to RecipeTaste of Home
Chewy Pecan Pie Bars
This treat is one of my husband’s favorites. I’ve been making these bars for many years, and we still can’t get enough. I never mind making this recipe—it’s about as easy as baking can be! —Judy Taylor, Shreveport, LouisianaGo to Recipe
Springtime Beignets & Berries
I’ve always loved beignets, but never thought I could make them myself. Turns out they’re easy! Sometimes I’ll even make a quick berry whipped cream and pipe it inside for a fun surprise. —Kathi Hemmer, Grand Junction, ColoradoGo to Recipe
Rum Raisin Creme Brulee
Inspired by a favorite ice cream flavor, I created this make-ahead recipe to free up some time in the kitchen. You can also serve this as a custard if you choose to not caramelize the top. —Eleanor Froehlich, Rochester, MichiganGo to Recipe
Bananas Foster Gelato
The classic combination of bananas and rum is reinvented as an ice cream dish that’s even better with ribbons of caramel topping. It’s an outstanding treat for adults! —Scarlett Elrod, Newnan, GeorgiaGo to Recipe
Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Monkey Bread
Time to give rum cake a little competition! If this boozy take on monkey bread is too strong for your taste, cut back on the bourbon or use milk as a non-alcoholic substitute. —James Schend, Taste of Home Deputy EditorGo to RecipeTaste of Home
King Cake with Cream Cheese Filling
Round out your Mardi Gras celebration with a King Cake—a colorful ring-shaped pastry drizzled with green, gold and purple icing. This stunning cake has become the gala holiday’s signature dessert.—Alice LeJeune, Ville Platte, LouisianaGo to Recipe
Favorite Chocolate-Bourbon Pecan Tart
I grew up in Louisiana where, as in most of the South, pecan pie is a staple. This tart variation is extra good because it includes chocolate. I decided to up the decadence even more by adding bourbon and drizzling some caramel on top. —Amber Needham, San Antonio, TexasGo to Recipe
Enjoy breakfast the New Orleans way with these warm, crispy bites. Topped with powdered sugar, they are a delight! —Lois Rutherford, Elkton, FloridaGo to RecipeTaste of Home
Banana Bread Pudding
When I visited my grandmother in summer, I always looked forward to the comforting banana bread pudding she’d make. With its crusty golden top, custard-like inside and smooth vanilla sauce, this pudding is a real homespun dessert. Now I make it for my grandchildren. —Mary Detweiler, Middlefield, OhioGo to RecipeTaste of Home
Frosted Anise Sugar Cookies
These soft, cake-like cookies have a pleasant anise flavor that’s distinct but not overpowering. I add red and green sprinkles for Christmas, but you could decorate them to suit any occasion.—Janice Eanni, Willowick, OhioGo to RecipeTaste of Home
Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie
When my fiance first made this chocolate bourbon pecan pie for me, I declared it to be the best pie ever! Creamy chocolate combines with crunchy nuts in a great, gooey filling. We can’t get enough of this recipe inspired by Kentucky Derby bourbon chocolate pecan pie. —Tanya Taylor, Cary, North CarolinaGo to Recipe
This margarita cake is perfect for a picnic on a warm day. You’ll be surprised at how closely it tastes like the real thing. These other margarita dessert recipes are delicious, too. ?—Dawn Lowenstein, Huntingdon Valley, PennsylvaniaGo to RecipeTaste of Home
These cookies are both crisp and chewy. They can be frozen after they’re iced for real convenience. With two small children, that’s a great way to have my baking done ahead of time for holidays or special occasions. The only problem is hiding them so my husband can’t find them! —Melody Sroufe, Wichita, KansasGo to RecipeTaste of Home
Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce
There’s nothing better than this comforting bread pudding recipe on a cold, wintry day. The bourbon sauce makes the dessert taste special, but it’s so easy to prepare—the slow cooker does most of the work! —Hope Johnson, Youngwood, PennsylvaniaGo to Recipe
Four ingredients are all you’ll need for this sure-bet breakfast treat. Friends and family will never guess that refrigerated buttermilk biscuits are the base for these golden, jelly-filled doughnuts. —Ginny Watson, Broken Arrow, OklahomaGo to RecipeTaste of Home
Banana-Hazelnut Pain Perdu Duet
The ultimate breakfast at our house is French toast with warm bananas and Nutella. Pass it around with confectioners’ sugar, maple syrup and fresh mint. —Charlene Chambers, Ormond Beach, FloridaGo to Recipe