Fat Tuesday may get most of the headlines, but Mardi Gras isn’t about just one day. In fact, it’s a month of non-stop celebrations. In New Orleans, however, Mardi Gras means so much more. Crescent City does Carnival like no other city on earth, with the event attracting 1.4 million visitors each and every year, according to CNN. Beginning on Twelfth Night (January 6), the city turns into a feast of parading, bead-tossing, costuming, and, of course, eating. On the weekend building up to Fat Tuesday (the day before Lent), parade after parade makes its way through the area. Crowds watch in awe at the Endymion floats and revel in delight at Krewe d’Etat’s social satire. Visitors are expected to join in the traditions, such as eating oysters and king cake, while watching parades make their way down St. Charles Avenue.
The one downside of Mardi Gras is the fact that it all must come to a close. Returning to life as normal can result in a cold turkey-like effect after the highs of the month-long celebration. Many who have enjoyed the festivities attempt to recreate that feeling while waiting for the next one to come around. If you share that sentiment, one way to do this is to hold a party in your own home. Here are some helpful hints on how to do just that.
You could spruce up your home with Mardi Gras colors, and even display fancy purple, green, and gold candles and candleholders around your living room. You could make paper chains displaying the same color theme and have them hang from the doorway. Food-wise, you could treat your guests to some traditional Creole or Fat Tuesday cuisine, which includes selections such as Louisiana jambalaya and king cake. A dish like spicy seafood gumbo is another option, and while taking some time to prepare, it will allow for quality time between you and your guests. Red beans and rice would be a nice side option, while pralines would make for a tasty dessert.
There’s nothing like playing a game to get everyone involved. Here, you’ll want to play something that embraces the Mardi Gras spirit, with colors and Carnival sounds. Carnival Games VR by Cat Daddy Games, for example, offers an immersive virtual reality experience that sees you enter Carnival Alley, giving you an opportunity to unlock other games or win virtual prizes. Whether it's rolling for high scores in Alley Ball, shooting balls in Swish, or scaling a castle in Climbing Wall, there’s something for each and every player. If you feel like kicking back and relaxing while enjoying a similar Carnival setting, Betway’s Carnival is an online slot that offers a way to spice things up, giving the classic roulette game a Carnival theme. Other games that could help immerse you in the world of Mardi Gras include iconic adventure video game Grim Fandango, a 1998 release from LucasArts that was remastered in 2014; and Hitman: Blood Money, which follows the adventures of an assassin through numerous locations, featuring the Mardi Gras parade.
Of course, no themed party would be complete without music. Southern Nights by Allen Toussaint would be a great choice for some background music to help create the right mood. Toussaint is responsible for having written some of New Orleans’s most iconic funk and soul, which has been heavily sampled in R&B and hip hop. This album is a stunningly crafted masterpiece all the way through and shows off Toussaint’s unique style in terms of not only his songwriting, but also his New Orleans piano sound. Another album that would be perfect for such an occasion is Rebirth Brass Band – Live at the Maple Leaf. This locals' favorite has built up quite the reputation for blending traditions of New Orleans brass brands with hip hop, R&B, funk, and soul. While the band’s studio recordings have all been nothing short of spectacular, this live performance perfectly captures the true spirit of a Mardi Gras-style party. The 1998 live set includes unique covers of the Rolling Stones, TLC, and Bill Withers.
Once you’re all winding down, you could settle down with a movie—preferably one set in New Orleans, of course. The 1984 classic Tightrope sees Clint Eastwood in his oft-seen role as a hard-boiled detective. This time, the setting is in New Orleans, with the plot taking Wes Block (Eastwood) into seemingly every single massage parlor in the French Quarter. He’s also a family man with two young daughters who he is raising himself after his wife left him. The oldest girl is played by one of the star’s real-life daughters, Alison Eastwood. Another great movie to help capture the spirit of Mardi Gras is Elvis Presley's King Creole from 1958. Once again set in the seductive French Quarter, Elvis’s third film is considered by many to be his best. The plot was based on the novel A Stone for Danny Fisher by Harold Robbins. Elvis Presley played Danny, the protagonist (of course), who is making his way up from the ghetto to find fame in the local jazz clubs. He finds love with Ronnie (Carolyn Jones) and tangles with gang boss Maxie Fields (played by a 38-year-old Walter Matthau). Other options include The Big Easy, the 80s crime drama starring Dennis Quaid and Ellen Barkin, and the acclaimed four-season TV series Treme, set in a New Orleans neighborhood by the same name.
There’s no reason why life should ever be dull when the spirit of Mardi Gras is never far from home. With just some simple—but fancy—decor and creating the right mood, it can be celebrations all year round, right in the comfort of your own home.