Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, or Shrove Tuesday is the day of revelry before Ash Wednesday, which is the start of the religious season of Lent. It is traditionally a day to indulge in naughty food and beverages before giving up something for the 40 days of Lent. Here in Southwest Florida, we’re probably most familiar with our southern neighbors and the traditional Carnival festivities of the city of New Orleans.
While parades and other customary celebrations in New Orleans have been canceled this year due to Covid, you can still throw a wild Mardi Gras party right in your own backyard — pool party style!
Mardi Gras Food
Traditional Mardi Gras food is heavy, rich, and delectable. While you can whip up any of this at home, it’s easy to find some of these in grocery stores, bakeries, and local restaurants offering these special dishes this time of year.
Some ideas for pool party Mardi Gras fare include:
- Crawfish Boil – One of the easiest dishes to prepare for a crowd. Just dump it out on a giant table and dig in!
- Shrimp and Grits – Make a huge pot of grits and set up a toppings bar with shrimp, andouille, cheese, scallions, and hot sauce.
- Crab Cakes – With easy access to fresh seafood here in SWFL, crab cakes are always a winner for a pool party. Don’t forget a classic creole remoulade sauce for dipping.
- Poutine – French fries smothered with sausage, cheese curds, and… gravy! How bad could that be?
- King Cake – Purple, gold, and green cake covered in icing and bright sprinkles. First one to find the hidden (plastic) baby inside buys the next cake!
- Beignets – Pillowy, drool-worthy hole-less doughnuts loaded with powdered sugar.
- Pancakes – For a brunch-themed pool party, serve green, purple, and gold pancakes covered in icing and sprinkles. Pancakes are traditionally eaten on Fat Tuesday as a way to use up milk, butter, and eggs before Lent.
Mardi Gras Drinks
Few things are more effective at motivating you to give up an indulgence than waking up with a headache! While many of your guests may be familiar with tropical Hurricanes and Strawberry Daquiris that are the staples of New Orleans Mardi Gras celebrations, they may not have tried some of the more traditional cocktails like Sazerac and Milk Punch.
Get all the recipes here.
If kids will be at the party, Hurricane and Strawberry Daquiri ‘mocktails’ are easy to make, and kids love the festive colors and flavors. Tip: top the Strawberry Daquiris with whipped cream to give the kids something to indulge in!)
Mardi Gras Decor
Purple, green, and gold are the official colors of Mardi Gras. This time of year, party supply stores, craft stores, and even grocery stores are stocked with traditional Mardi Gras decor.
Balloons are always festive – opt for classic helium balloons tied around the tables, or have an elaborate balloon arch made welcoming people onto the pool deck. Beads are essential. It’s impossible to host a Mardi Gras themed party without sending guests home loaded down with beads. Pay homage to the city of NOLA by creating your own parade of (pool) floats and playing a game of “Throw me something, mister!” with the beads.
Complete the set up with some flocked bunting, hanging decorations, gold floating candles, and plastic Hurricane glasses to safely serve your beverages poolside!
Whether you’re experiencing some FOMO not visiting The Big Easy this year, or you just want to host a pool party that isn’t a luau or barbeque, a festive Mardi Gras theme is the way to go!
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