Easter is early this year, which means Mardi Gras will be upon us sooner than usual. Although the holiday falls in the middle of the week, Tuesday, February 12th, you can throw a Carnival celebration in the days leading up to fat Tuesday! In fact, in Italy and Brazil Carnival is celebrated for weeks leading up to Ash Wednesday.
The cold month of February may not be the best time to be scantily clothed, but what better time to have a roaring fire, play some great music and let the cocktails flow? Any occasion that can be used as an excuse to throw a party works for me!
A well thought out party always includes great music, a signature cocktail, interesting decor and lots of great friends. For a Carnival themed party, serve a colorful cocktail like a raspberry lemon drop. Here’s a really easy recipe from One Martini at a Time.
Raspberry Lemon Drop
- 3-4 fresh raspberries
- 2 ounces raspberry vodka
- Juice from 1 freshly squeezed lemon (about 1 1/2 to 2 ounces)
- 1 tbsp simple syrup
- Lemon wheel and fresh raspberries for garnish
Preparation: Muddle raspberries and pour them into a martini glass. Pour raspberry vodka, fresh squeezed lemon juice and simple syrup into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake to combine and pour the mixture over the muddled raspberries. Garnish with raspberries on a skewer and a lemon wheel.
Create the Atmosphere
Transport your guests to a night in Venice by replacing your regular light bulbs with pink ones to create flattering, soft lighting and lots of ambiance. You can purchase colored bulbs at well-stocked home improvement stores or online. Decorate the space with any home accessories that are colorful and have gold accents; trays, vases, bowls – anything goes. Stop by your local farmers’ market and buy brightly colored flowers. Arrange them in vases and strategically place them around the room to add pops of color to the space.
Make it Kid-Friendly
If kids will be attending the party, purchase beads from a local craft store and set up an arts and crafts table where they can make their own necklaces. While you’re at the craft store, pick up plain white masks, feathers, paint and glitter so everyone can decorate their own mask. (You might find some adults gravitating toward the craft table, too!). If you’re going to be entertaining teens, let them be in charge of the music. My kids create fabulous dance mixes that add life to a party. Let them help rearrange the furniture in the party space to create a dance floor. A fun way to get the party started is to let the young (and nimble) participate in a limbo competition — an ice breaker that gets the blood flowing! Or, step it up a notch and hire a local dance instructor to show everyone how to samba or tango. Even the shyest of Carnival goers may give dancing a whirl with a little encouragement.
Scrumptious Creole food is both spicy and filling. Fat Tuesday marks the last chance to gorge before a six-week period of restraint, so it’s an excuse to go big and hearty with the menu. Traditional gumbo is made with celery, bell peppers, onions, okra and several varieties of meat and shellfish. It’s a dish that represents a medley of New Orleans culinary traditions and can be prepared in a variety of ways. An online search will return a slew of recipes, choose one that you think will appeal to your guests. Another must-have Mardi Gras party food is king cake. King cake is a sweetened yeast bread decorated with brightly colored frosting. Traditionally, a token — either a red bean or baby figurine — is baked into the cake. The person who ends up with the slice containing the token is said to receive good fortune for the rest of the year. You can order an authentic king cake online, or you can make your own version of it by baking a token into your favorite cake.
As they say in New Orleans, laissez les bon temps rouler, or let the good times roll!
Photo credit: iStock Photography