Let the good times roll—it’s Mardi Gras time! Get into the spirit of the season with an engagement luncheon that’s simply jumping with revelry. Set the fun-filled tone from the time your guests receive their festive invites, till the moment they depart for home with fabulous party favors. At the luncheon itself, decorate the tables with a vibrant carnival look and serve mouth-watering Creole cuisine inspired by the home of the American Mardi Gras, New Orleans.
How Mardi Gras Came to New Orleans
The name Mardi Gras is actually French for “Fat Tuesday.” Set 46 days before Easter, it’s like one last hurrah of merriment and excess just before the solemn season of Lent begins. In 2009, Mardi Gras day falls on February 24th. But Mardi Gras season always begins on January 6th, 12 days after Christmas.
Although it’s centered around the Christian feast of Easter, this grand festival is celebrated in many forms throughout the world at this time of the year. Most famous is the lavish street party of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil known as “Carnaval.” The US version of Mardi Gras originated from the French settlers who occupied the Mississippi River area in the early 1700s—in states now known as Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi. Over the centuries, it has evolved into an elaborate and much-loved annual tradition of the city of New Orleans, home to jazz music and spicy Cajun cooking.
Bring On that Mardi Gras Vibe with These Great Party Ideas:
#1 Craft Striking Invitations
Use the traditional Mardi Gras palette of purple, green, and gold to craft eye-catching invites that are sure to create anticipation of the event. Try colorful and decorative details like:
– mix-and-match cards and envelopes in these colors
– card stock or metallic board cut in the shape of masks
– gold metallic or gel pen ink
– glitter, sequins, and metallic stickers
– strings of glistening, colored beads (a traditional Mardi Gras trinket), each with a card attached giving the party details
#2 Create a “Carnival” on Your Tabletop
For your table décor, create a “carnival” look with stunning decorative touches—again anchored on the tri-color palette of purple, green, and gold. Wow guests with these unique ideas:
– Table Centerpieces – With a purple tablecloth for a canvas, set out centerpieces featuring glittery masks, bright paper streamers, and strings of shiny throw beads. Mount the masks on sticks and stand them up in clear glass bowls or cylinders trimmed with tri-colored bands of ribbon. For a festive finishing touch, scatter doubloons (colorful coins thrown during Mardi Gras parades) and metallic confetti around the centerpiece.
Note: Since many of these décor elements are teeming with color, be sure to balance the amount of embellishments that you apply to avoid an overly busy table display.
– Place Settings – Pay tribute to the origins of Mardi Gras with stylish place settings bearing a French motif. Start with a gold charger topped with a crisp white plate, and then finish it off with a golden yellow or mustard table napkin held by a fleur de lis napkin ring. If you’d prefer a little elegance with a regal flair, set out gold-trimmed cutlery and crystal water goblets and wine glasses.
– Décor Accents – Keep up the Mardi Gras merriment with more décor accents like multi-colored balloons, ribbons, and feathers marking the entrance, trimming the reception table, and dressing up chairs. You can even take inspiration from the jazz music of the Big Easy (a.k.a, New Orleans), and delight guests with miniature gold trumpets, musical note cut-outs, and whimsical top hats.
– Party Favors That Pop – Let’s not forget the party favors! Atop each place setting, display a pretty gold picture frame finished with a purple ribbon—a stylish decor piece in keeping with the Mardi Gras colors and a delightful keepsake. For something edible, prepare gold-foil wrapped chocolate coins or candies—mimicking the doubloons thrown from parade floats on Mardi Gras day—and present them in olive green organza packaging. Or want a truly fun party favor? Fill a purple gift bag with green and yellow crinkle paper, trim it with colorful beads, sparkling sequins, and a flirtatious feather. Then, simply pop in both the frame and the candy!
#3 Serve Spicy Party Food & Dazzling Drinks
Spicy and tasty is what comes to mind when planning the menu for a Mardi Gras party. Serve up a feast of appetizers and main dishes jazzed up by the Cajun and Creole flavors of New Orleans—from the famed chicken gumbo, jambalaya, Andouille sausage, dirty rice, beans, Cajun shrimp, and ratatouille, all the way to King Cake for dessert, of course.
For beverages, up the fun factor by setting up a mini bar where guests can try their hand at concocting mint juleps, Hurricanes, and Creole Bloody Mary. This Mardi Gras-style engagement luncheon is sure to be a hit!