Like most Christian festivals, Mardi Gras (French for ‘Fat Tuesday’) probably had pagan origins before becoming yet another Roman Catholic tradition that Europeans transported to the New World. Originally a time of feasting and celebration taking place just before the Lenten season, (during which both of those were very much frowned upon), Mardi Gras has, today, lost much of its religious significance. While some aspects of it were, and are, most definitely adult-oriented, others are kid friendly, and since nearly all kids like to dress up, a birthday party involving fancy dress is a good historic theme for this time of year. Especially this year, as the celebrations have already started in some places and will go on until Shrove Tuesday (Pancake Day) on February 28th.
Costumes can basically just be anything young guests want to come as, but though masks are as much associated with Mardi Gras as they are with Halloween, not all kids, most notably younger ones, like them. They are, however, often amenable to face painting.
DECORATIONS & OTHER PARTY ITEMS
If your local shops don’t have anything suitable, Mardi Gras party accessories are available at:
* Note: As with all party food ideas, be aware of guests’ allergies & religious observances.
In New Orleans, the colours of Mardi Gras are purple (for justice), green (for faith), and gold (for power, and some of the food served can reflect this. Green isn’t too hard to find for veggie dip items, and you can achieve purple and gold (or at least yellow) ones with food dye. For teens, anyway. Under 12s are rather conservative eaters. They don’t like familiar food to ‘look funny’. They might, however, go for purple/green/gold sugar-coated pretzels.
Some other ideas:
- Chicken Nuggets
- Fried chicken
- Rice & Beans
- Lasagne (see below for recipe)
- Purple Grapes
- Green Grapes
- Golden Pears
- Veggie Dips with naturally green veggies & artificially coloured ones
- Fruit Loop Mardi Gras ‘necklaces’
- Venetian ice cream
- and of course, pancakes.
For a Mardi Gras lasagne recipe, visit:
For Mari Gras cookie/cake ideas visit:
- Masks: Plain masks can be purchased at craft shops and decorated to taste.
- Carnival Caps/Hats made out of purple/green/yellow construction paper.
- Parade Floats: Supply children with shoe boxes & craft supplies (including little plastic ‘people’) and have them build Mardi Gras floats. If you want the floats to move, add cardboard wheels and straws to the craft supplies.
For other Mardi Gras craft ideas visit:
Costume Parade: Might be a little chilly to do this outdoors at this time of year, but if you have a large house…
Balloon Animal Race: If someone you know is talented at making balloon animals, enlist their help, make the critters desired, and have kids see who can bat theirs the furthest – or fastest if you have room for an actual race.
Coin Scramble: As with the coins tossed to crowds during Mardi Gras parades, kids can scramble to gather up chocolate ones, or plastic coin tokens that can be exchanged for small items.
Limbo: Have an adult hold a long stick at varying heights and get guests to ‘do the limbo’ under it to however low a height someone manages.
In some places, plays are put on during Mardi Gras, so older kids could form teams and write and perform short skits of their own.
And, if you can afford it, or have a talented friend/relative who’ll do it for free, a magician or clown can be a great addition to a Mardi Gras themed birthday party.