You don't have to go full-on Bourbon Street revelry to have some Mardi Gras fun. Here's six family-friendly ideas to bring the party to your own home.

By Libby Ryan
February 21, 2017

Mardi Gras ("Fat Tuesday" in French) doesn't have to be a wild New Orleans bash, masked ball in Venice, or Rio de Jainero extravaganza. Make Mardi Gras magic with homemade costumes, cake, and plenty of pizzazz for a family-friendly Carnival experience.

1. Get beaded.

For an easy way to dress on-theme, grab some beaded necklaces in the traditional Carnival colors of purple, green, and gold. The purple symbolizes justice, green is for faith, and the gold stands for power. ($10 for 48 at

2. Make even healthy food festive.

Mardi Gras doesn't have to literally be Fat Tuesday. You can whip up some healthy fare for the fam without ruining the spirit. Try this recipe for roasted veggies using purple onions, yellow squash, and green zucchini. Or make some colorful salsa, with avocado, pineapple, and black beans.

3. Decorate your own masks.

Take your costumes to the next level by decorating masks, Venetian-style. You can cut your own shapes out of cardboard or use craft-store masks, but the most important part is adding feathers, sequins, and lots of bright colors. We'd suggest glitter glue if you're thinking of adding some sparkle!

4. Bake a king cake.

This traditional sweet brioche cake is a Mardi Gras must. Try a traditional recipe for an authentic king cake or test out this ingenious cheat using store-bought cinnamon roll dough. In the classic New Orleans cake, the baker hides trinkets inside the dough, usually a plastic baby or a fava bean. Whoever gets the piece of cake with the baby is the king or queen of the day! For young kids, parents can substite the plastic baby for a chocolate one to avoid a choking hazard.

5. Try some New Orleans cooking.

For a taste of the bayou, try making a New Orleans classic such as gumbo or jumbalaya. Our one-pot gumbo recipe has a kid-friendly spice level and uses sausage, shrimp, okra, and cayenne pepper for a bowl of authentic Southern goodness.

6. Throw your own parade.

Since you're all decked out in Carnival gear, it's time to show it off. Whether you parade around the block or just around the living room, put on some jazz or samba music and get the kiddos dancing. The festival in Rio de Jainero has nothing on your moves—bonus points if you play your own instruments!


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