Throw a Mardi Gras Masquerade Party
By Chris Molar
In New Orleans, private social clubs, called "Krewes" decided to throw lavish parties celebrating luxury and excess before the sacred time of sacrifice and repentance. Because these clubs were made up of wealthy and often famous individuals, they wore masks to conceal their identity.
If you find yourself wanting to throw a big Mardi Gras masquerade (check out more party ideas), be sure to give a nod of thanks to those partiers before you who set the bar so high. They saw fit to celebrate having a good time, and so this article will help you celebrate your good times!
Invite Your "Krewe"
Krewes were known for having very selective membership policies. You can use this as a fun way to lay down the ground rules for your party. Address your invitations to the members of your "Krewe." On the front, give the party time, place, and other details. On the back, write something like:
Failure to abide by these rules will result in somebody dressing you in items from our tickle trunk!
Mardi Gras Decorations
If you are feeling ambitious, recreate the feeling of the French quarter in your party room or house. This may sound like a daunting task, but in reality is pretty simple.
Measure your walls. Get enough sheets of black tag board to go side-by-side around the entirety of the room or house. If you want to vary the height of your tag boards, trim off an inch to a foot so that your "buildings" are of different heights.
Get yellow, green and purple construction paper, and/or paint. These are the traditional Mardi Gras colors. Cut the construction paper into shapes, or use the paint, or some combination therein to make windows, shop fronts, and signs on your black tag board. Add Mardi Gras colored balloon bundles in the corners and string purple and green Christmas lights between them.
You will have a festive, colorful atmosphere, with no clunky decorations to knock over or break.
If you plan on having a feast or potluck as part of your activities, make sure there is a long table where the food can be laid out, and maybe a separate table to eat on.
These tables should either be in a different room from your dance floor, or should be easily moved out of the way for dancing later. These tables should have centerpieces, like Mardi Gras colored candles, or a mask set in a pile of themed confetti or glitter.
Mardi Gras Food Ideas
There are some tasty possibilities for your menu, although if you are hosting the party, you may want to do it potluck style, given that you will be doing enough work decorating. Of course, you'll need a king cake (see below).
One cute idea would be sugar cookies shaped like masks and frosted in Mardi Gras colors. Another would be a fruit and veggie spread with all sorts of bright colors - red tomatoes, green broccoli, yellow bell peppers, purple grapes, and so on in a mask shape. One eyehole can be surrounded with fruits with a whipped topping dip in the middle, and the other eye whole can be veggies with a ranch or dill dip in the center. This treat is tasty, healthy, and won't inhibit your dancing abilities later.
Because your focus is the masquerade, and therefore dancing, a heavy, gravy based soup like a gumbo may not be the best way to go. Creole style chicken breasts on dirty rice is a great choice, theme-friendly and delicious.
Creole Style Chicken
You should plan to make 1 - 2 chicken breasts a piece for each person at the party, depending on the size of the breast. If they are large, one should be fine, but if they are small, you may even want to make up to three. Then prepare a Creole rub for them.
With your hands, massage the surface of the chicken breasts with butter or olive oil, then take a handful of the seasoning and rub it all over the meat. Bake the chicken in the oven until it is white all the way through and browned slightly. If you prefer to live and die by the thermometer, internally, chicken should be 180¬" before it can safely be served. Serve it on dirty rice, which is like Cajun style fried rice.
The King Cake
The only culinary necessity for your party is a Mardi Gras King Cake. If you don't want to make it from scratch, here is a quick and dirty method:
Get a yellow cake mix, prepare it according to the directions. Bake it in a Bundt pan. Instead of making the sugar paste, corn syrup, food coloring topping, get a can of white frosting and divide it into 3 bowls. Use food coloring to turn 1 green, 1 yellow and 1 purple. Frost the cake in stripes. Hide a coin, a pea, a bean, a coin or a tiny doll somewhere in the cake. (If your guests are drinking, remind them that there's a hidden treasure inside the cake).
After you've got the food, guests and decorations laid out, remember that the focus of this party is FUN. Order a bag or two of colored Mardi Gras masks to be available to your guests in case someone conveniently forgets to wear one.
Set out a few disposable cameras such as those seen on tables at weddings. As for your playlist, worry less about being traditional to the holiday and more about what will get people dancing. Your Mardi Gras party should be all about having fun to the point of excess with your "krewe!"
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