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.
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 OrientalTrading.com)
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.
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.
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!