Do you love Mardi Gras? If so, you’ll love seeing how to put together a laid back Mardi Gras dinner party on a budget. Follow these tips to throw one of your own!
Mardi Gras is my favorite time of year. We buy king cakes from New Orleans and make gumbo every year for Fat Tuesday. This year I stepped it up a notch and invited our neighbors over for a laid back Mardi Gras dinner party. I’m pretty sure my neighbors thought I was crazy for having them over on a Tuesday night, but they quickly relaxed and enjoyed the excuse to party on a weeknight.
I grew up outside of Mobile, AL, the birthplace of American Mardi Gras. When I tell people here in Naples, FL that I love Mardi Gras, they automatically assume that I have an obsession with New Orleans or that I grew up in Louisiana. If you aren’t from Lower Alabama, or you haven’t spent a Mardi Gras celebrating there, then you just can’t understand the magic of Mobile Mardi Gras.
Here is the thing, Mardi Gras in Mobile and the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay is incredibly family friendly. It’s not anything like celebrating on Bourbon Street. In fact, a lot of New Orleans Mardi Gras parades are family friendly too if you go to the right ones and stay off of Bourbon. I grew up going to almost every parade in town and have strong memories of family fun during Mardi Gras.
Because of my fond memories, I want to create a similar tradition with my own kids. I want them to know how important Fat Tuesday is in preparation for Lent. I want them to enjoy the carnival season and live life to the fullest during Mardi Gras. So, we had our first ever neighborhood Mardi Gras dinner party and it was a success.
How to Host a Mardi Gras Dinner Party
Plan a simple menu
I made chicken and andouille sausage gumbo with rice and French bread. That’s it! Friends brought some appetizers, but there is no need to make a huge spread when you have a hearty meal like gumbo.
I always make my gumbo in a big Dutch oven. I swear by Lodge brand. It lasts forever!
Buy or make a King Cake
This is a non-negotiable. You must have a king cake if you have a Mardi Gras party. Can’t find one near you? Check online to order one from Louisiana. They can be a bit pricey, but they are worth every single penny. I promise!
If you can’t get one delivered or find one at a grocery store, try making your own. Head to this post to see 3 easy ways to get your king cake fix—> 3 King Cakes for Every Budget.
Use Real Bowls & Silverware
I love a good bowl of hearty gumbo. When I eat it, I have to have it out of a real bowl. It’s too thick and hot to eat out of anything paper.
I’m a fan of buying all white serving ware so everything matches and looks timeless. I bought these bowls at a consignment store. You can always find bowls at a resale shop!
Supply Good Southern Beer
Put out a sturdy galvanized beverage tub and fill it with good southern beer. I’m a fan of Abita or Dixie when it comes to celebrating Mardi Gras.
Decorate with Mardi Gras Colors
Traditional Mardi Gras colors are green, purple, and yellow.
Decorate a Mardi Gras Tree
Did you know that Mardi Gras officially starts on Epiphany, January 6th? It’s also known as Three Kings Day. The Christmas season isn’t over until Epiphany, the day that the wise men arrived in Bethlehem to see baby Jesus. For that reason, many people don’t take down their Christmas tree until January 6th.
If you celebrate Mardi Gras, and have a fake tree, you can take this a step further and redecorate your tree for Mardi Gras! We do this and don’t take our tree down until Ash Wednesday. It is so much fun to keep it up longer.
It make’s the perfect photo backdrop for a party too!
Give out Beads and Masks
Of course, you have to have some fun beads and masks! If you put them on your tree, you can encourage guests to grab them themselves.
Bonus: Serve Moon Pies
Moon pies are commonly thrown during parades. Pick up some from a dollar store and let the kids go wild! I’ve been impressed that The Dollar Tree always has these in stock, no matter the time of year.
Have you ever thrown a Mardi Gras party? What are you favorite things to serve?