1. Send invites two to three weeks before the party.

  • As a prelude to your extravaganza, fill invitation envelopes with confetti.
  • Request that your guests come in costume. Assign a theme.

2. Set the stage.

  • String up strands of lights in the traditional Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold.
  • Fill the room with balloons, streamers, confetti and beads in purple, green and gold.
  • Use colorful masks and feathers to decorate the beverage bars and buffet tables.
  • Put on Cajun and Zydeco music. Even better, hire musicians or DJs specializing in Cajun music.
  • Dress up as the King and Queen from the Royal Court of Mardi Gras.
  • If they're part of the merriment, have your children dress up as Court Jesters.

3. Welcome guests.

  • Greet your guests with beads and masks in hand. Let no one enter unmasked.
  • Provide feather boas, tiaras and crowns for your guests to play with.
  • Show kids how to make their own masks.

4. Let the good times roll.

Or, as they say in New Orleans, laissez les bons temps rouler!

  • Serve Cajun food: crawfish, étouffée, shrimp Creole and Jambalaya.
  • Serve King Cake, an oval pastry with a small plastic doll hidden inside.
  • Sweeten everyone up with Carnation Key Lime Pie or crunchy Pumpkin Pecan Pie.
  • Serve champagne or mint juleps to quench the revelers' thirst.
  • Keep a camera on hand to catch all the antics.

5. End on high note.

  • Send guests home with Mardi Gras goodie bags filled with beads, coins, candies and toys.
  • Hand out Cajun cookbooks to recreate a Mardi Gras meal at home.

Make street signs that say "Bourbon Street" and "The Big Easy."

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