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"Laisse le bon temps rouler"

Mardi Gras
5 Tips for Throwing the Perfect Mardi Gras Party

Courtesy of Acclaimed New Orleans Party Planner Thea Pagel

Pick a Theme

Mardi Gras parties know no boundaries. You can find them on any street corner in New Orleans or in the fanciest of Garden District homes. In the name of Mardi Gras, you will find revelers at parade parties, Queen’s Suppers, costume parties, formal balls, and anywhere people gather and celebrate life. Pick the format that suits your party list and then customize the details with New Orleans tradition and history.

“Whether your flavor of merrymaking is an Avant-garde parade party with multiple feasting stations, a traditional ‘Queen’s Supper’ serving up midnight breakfast fare, or a simple masquerade party featuring various trays of New Orleans’-style desserts, it’s important to start with a clear theme and stick to it,” says acclaimed New Orleans event planner Thea Pagel. Mardi Gras

Serve Beignets

Whether a casual celebration or lavish affair, one essential New Orleans ingredient: piping hot beignets.

“Everyone loves a beignet,” Pagel says. “And it doesn’t get much better than the classic Café du Monde-style beignet. Purists love them in traditional form with powdered sugar and café au lait, but to add a twist on a classic, I ‘sauce them up’ for a more sumptuous and elaborate party.”

Pagel suggests setting up an “action station” where guests witness the spectacle of forming and frying beignets, then select from a variety of toppings and accoutrements, like warm chocolate or fruit sauces. And, of course, bead-worthy amounts of powdered sugar.

Mardi GrasShake Up a Specialty Cocktail

Libations can bring your Mardi Gras theme to life. For a classic affair, pull out the old-fashioned glassware and serve the Sazerac, a cognac-based cocktail dating back to 1850s New Orleans. For a truly spirited occasion, partake in potions with pyrotechnic effects.

“Flaming cocktails are Carnival ritual at Antoine’s and Arnaud’s, two of the oldest restaurants in the country, and can be especially dramatic with the lights turned down,” Pagel says. “If you’re a seasoned entertainer, try your hand at the Café Brûlot, featuring brandy, coffee, a handful of spices and a flaming orange peel. Your guests will never forget it.”

Provide Party Favors

“You don’t have to be Martha Stewart or have her purse to throw a great Mardi Gras party. All it takes is a great sense of fun, a good guest list and a few inexpensive party favors,” assures Thea. “Balloons and beads can fill a home with Mardi GrasMardi Gras atmosphere without deflating the budget. Greet guests with colorful strands of bead necklaces, or transform the necklaces into napkin rings to add sparkle to the table.”

Mix the Right Music

Music sets the tone. Even if a live jazz band isn’t in the cards, you can add class and style by creating your own mix. “New Orleans trumpeter and vocalist Jeremy Davenport will add a sexy touch of sophistication to your party,” Pagel says. “If you want to funk it up and keep the party shaking into the wee hours, download Big Sam’s Funky Nation. Music needs to fit with the mood. A great free option is playing live streaming Mardi Gras music. Create three sets: one for the arrival to get people in the mood, another when the energy is peaking, and then wind down music before the party ends.”

New Orleanians understand the magic in having a good time. Be a magician and create the right ambiance for the party. Set up the scene and then, with your guests, laissez les bon temps rouler!

Mardi GrasThea Pagel Productions

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

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