New Orleans Theme Party
Mardi Gras is one of the most exciting events of the year. You can participate in a variety of activities to commemorate the occasion. The date for Mardi Gras, which means Fat Tuesday, changes every year, but it is always 46 days before Easter. It is a time for rejoicing, as it is the day before Lent begins – the weeks leading up to Easter that are traditionally spent fasting or giving up luxuries.
With many states reopening amidst the pandemic, you might want to throw a small party and invite your friends. Celebrate your reunion with some enthusiastic New Orleans air! We have put together an exclusive guide to walk you step-by-step through hosting your own Mardi Gras Celebration for your friends, family, co-workers, and/or community members.
There are three colors associated with Mardi Gras: purple (symbolizes justice), green (symbolizes faith), and gold (symbolizes power). Using this color theme, we have put together recommendations on decorations you can buy or make at home, party favors, and an event menu!
New Orleans Theme Party Decorations
1. Decorating the Tables
Stick with the classic Mardi Gras colors of green, gold, and purple for your table decorations. Use combinations like a green and gold tablecloth and maybe a purple table runner. Scatter Mardi Gras beads, gold coins, and Mardi Gras confetti all over the table. Place feathered masks on the table as centerpieces. Choose different colors for Mardi Gras-theme plates and utensils, and make them look as extravagant as possible!
2. Mardi Gras Garland & Tinsel
Decorate your party’s venue with tinsel and garland strands in Mardi Gras colors. Since Mardi Gras is known for decorating with excess, don’t be afraid to completely cover your venue with draped garland! With all this color, how can your guests not have a great time at your party?!
3. Mardi Gras Beads
Not only can your guests wear festive Mardi Gras beads, but you can also use the beads to decorate for your party. For this idea, use gold, purple, and green beads, and hang them on lamps and ceiling fans, and also use them to decorate the dining tables. For extra fun, consider placing beads on place settings that match with other guests’ place settings so that later on they may play a game based on the color of their beads. For example, you may place your guests in teams based on the color of the beads they received. Remember to have fun with it!
4. Festive Streamers & Balloons
Green, gold, and purple balloons and color-coordinated crepe paper streamers are some of the more inexpensive and easy ways to decorate for a festive celebration! Be sure to use purple, green, and gold streamers and balloons to cover your venue, which you can grab at your local party store.
5. Colored Lights
To create a perfect Mardi Gras ambiance, buy some purple or green twinkle lights. Also, you can get some festive scented candles in green and purple and light them around your venue. To create the perfect Mardi Gras ambiance, purchase candles that smell like sweat and musk; who doesn’t love that smell?! Obviously, this scent is not desired, but it is the truthful scent of the holiday. For a better scent, purchase a more preferable candle that is sweet and citrusy.
6. Costumes & Accessories
Set up a variety of Mardi Gras costumes around your room, including green/gold/purple hats, beads, and masks. Have your guests dress up in them to make the party even more festive! Consider having a fashion show to show off all of the costumes. Be sure to take loads of pictures to remember the event! You won’t want to forget this.
7. New Orleans Music
When choosing music for your New Orleans theme party, be sure to choose a selection of music from New Orleans-famous musicians, including Fats Domino, Louis Armstrong, and Trombone Shorty. You can also play general Jazz and Zydeco. If it fits in your budget, consider hiring a traditional Jazz band to play at the party through our list of local musicians.
New Orleans-Themed Party Favors
8. Mardi Gras Beads
New Orleans giveaway ideas must start with lots of Mardi Gras beads for your guests! Mardi Gras beads are such a significant symbol of the carnival and are quite affordable to have as party favors. If you place beads on the tables, make sure your guests know they are welcome to take them home as party favors!
9. Masquerade Masks
As a recognized symbol of Mardi Gras, colored masks make easy and decorative party favors. You can find beautiful, feathered masks in green, gold, and purple at party stores for reasonable prices as well as mask-shaped candies and other mask-related decorations. Not only do these masks serve as great party favors, but they can also serve as great costume pieces throughout the party.
10. Fleur-de-lis Favors
The fleur-de-lis is a symbol that is symbolic in New Orleans for decorating. For small, fleur-de-lis trinket favors, find items like compact mirrors, candles, or wine bottle stoppers decorated with fleur-de-lis emblems or in the shape of them!
11. New Orleans Chocolate Favors
You can never go wrong with chocolate! Make your own, or order New Orleans chocolate pralines for a yummy treat. Chocolate pralines are candied sweets with sugar, chocolate, and nuts known to melt in your mouth. For simpler chocolate favors, make goodie bags full of gold-foiled chocolate coins and mask-shaped chocolates!
12. Mini Bottles of Hot Sauce
Since hot sauce is a staple in New Orleans cuisine, buy an assortment of miniature hot sauce bottles, and give them to guests in goodie bags to take home! Popular hot sauces in New Orleans include Tabasco, Crystal, and “Slap ya Mama.” Test your and your guests’ palette with a classic New Orleans hot sauce!
13. Bottles of Wine
For a New Orleans/Mardi Gras-theme celebration, alcohol is usually a welcome party favor, even better if it’s not too expensive. This could be as easy as grabbing a few extra bottles of the wine you plan on serving at your party and tie ribbons and personalized tags around the top of them.
New Orleans Theme Party Activities
14. The Mardi Gras Game
Tell your guests that if they say “Mardi Gras” anytime throughout the night they must give their strands of beads to whomever they were talking to. At the end of the party, the guest with the most beads around his or her neck wins the game!
15. Carnival Doubloon Toss
Since Mardi Gras is a carnival, setting up carnival activities is a great idea! Whether this means face painting kits, setting up a doubloon (Spanish coin thrown at Mardi Gras parades) toss, or a balloon-pop game, all of these are easy and relatively inexpensive activities. Consider playing a game of doubloon toss with your guests; many New Orleans natives collect doubloons and seek them out during parades. Have a bit of fun with this game.
16. Treasure Hunt
Gather a bunch of inexpensive Mardi Gras coins and beads. Spray paint the beads and coins with glow-in-the-dark paint in the colors green, yellow, and purple. Hide them, and whoever finds the most wins!
17. Mardi Gras Costume Contest
Be sure to include in your invitations that your guests should dress up in theme costumes for your Mardi Gras party! Give prizes to the winners with the best costume and other categories, including the most original, best design, and most ridiculous. These prizes will entice your guests to have a bit more fun with their costumes!
18. Dancing to Dixie
Dixieland music is a genre of Jazz that is famous in New Orleans. What better way to celebrate this festive city’s culture than playing Dixieland music and setting up a dance floor for a dancing Dixie activity! Consider hiring a Dixieland band to play if it works with your budget.
Classic New Orleans-Style Dishes to Include
Crawfish is one of the many famous foods of New Orleans and can make an excellent party menu! Set up tables and chairs outside for a crawfish boil, and serve the crawfish with potatoes, corn, and sausage. Since it’ll get pretty messy with all your guests tearing up the crawfish, make sure to provide a lot of napkins and trays for guests to pile their mess on. Supply kits for crawfish boils are always an easy option!
New Orleans is known for its jambalaya. There are two main types: Cajun and Creole. Cajun jambalaya has a smokier flavor from the browning process and is a darker color than Creole jambalaya. Creole is known as “red jambalaya” since it includes tomatoes, and because it is, well, red. Natives of New Orleans are keener to Creole jambalaya, whereas natives of rural Louisiana are keener to the Cajun version. The most popular meats to add to the dish are chicken and andouille sausage. Take your pick, and impress your guests with a fantastic pot of jambalaya!
If you are never able to find your way down to New Orleans, at least find a recipe for gumbo so that you can understand the flavor of the city through a dish. Jambalaya is primarily rice-based, while gumbo is more of a stew. It is made with a roux and thickened with your meat of choosing (seafood, chicken, and/or sausage). The most important part of a great gumbo is the roux. It may take some time to cook your gumbo, but trust us, it will be worth it in the end, and your guests will certainly thank you!
22. Red Beans and Rice
Is it Monday yet? This dish is traditionally eaten on Mondays, so if you wish to treat your guests to a hot bowl of red beans and rice, consider planning your party on a Monday. This dish has a small ingredient list. The basics include rice, kidney beans, and sausage. Red beans and rice is considered a soup but can be thickened, depending on preference. Many also enjoy adding hot sauce to add spice to the dish. Enjoy!
23. Drink Menu
Serve a variety of cocktails in hurricane glasses. Choose rum-based New Orleans hurricane cocktails to stay true to the New Orleans theme. You can also serve daiquiris, a New Orleans staple. They are easy to make virgin for the children, as well as for your guests who don’t drink.
24. Bread Pudding
Bread pudding is a classic New Orleans dessert. It is served in many critically acclaimed restaurants. Although great restaurants sell the dessert, there is no reason why you cannot make it yourself! Look up a recipe to understand the full detail of making the bread pudding, but know that you should start with stale bread; it sounds weird, but it will make it good, I promise! Make your stale bread into something everyone will be sure to enjoy.
25. Mardi Gras King’s Cake
For a traditional New Orleans dessert with a Mardi Gras theme, bake a King’s Cake! The cake was created in honor of the Three Wise Kings. Find a recipe online to guide you through baking this cinnamon-roll like cake. Traditionally the cakes have a tiny model of a baby, to represent baby Jesus, baked into the cake. The guest who finds the baby figurine in his or her piece of cake wins a prize!
New Orleans is a fascinating place, and decorations alone can make your New Orleans Theme Party amazing. To make your party a hit, include traditional New Orleans-style dishes, party favors, and activities to keep your guests entertained. We hope you use these tips and enjoy living like a Nola native for a day!
Written by Madeleine Desmaris /Yi Yang