Mardi Gras has begun and while you may not be able to travel to New Orleans to celebrate Fat Tuesday properly, that certainly doesn’t mean you have to miss out on all the events of the grand scale Carnival celebrations. Mardi Gras traditionally begins on or after the Epiphany, and culminates on Ash Wednesday. The word “Mardi Gras” is French for Fat Tuesday, which reflects the practice of eating fatty and rich food before the fasting season of Lent.  Mardi Gras is a rich cultural celebration and while modern day parties certainly center on drinking and dancing, there is some much more rich history behind the feast day than just booze! For this reason, when planning the decorations and theme of your Mardi Gras party be sure to include all the great and historical traditions beginning with masks!

Masks themselves have a long and rich history, however masks were introduced to the Mardi Gras celebrations for a very particular reason.  Masks were worn to escape society and class constraints. With their faces hidden behind masks, carnival goers were free to be whomever they wanted to be, and mingle with whatever class they wished without societal judgment. Keeping this in mind, a large part of your party motif should revolve around masks. However, instead of simple store-bought, plastic masks, think outside of the box, and hand make each mask to serve as a contrasting center piece or even for your guests to wear! Check out these 10 DIY ideas and hand craft your own personal mask for both decorations and wear, click here for inspiration.

Another decoration to use on your table setting is beads! Traditionally called Mardi Gras throws, several city celebrations on the Gulf Coast have adopted this custom, and contrary to popular belief women exposing their breast for beads is not a part of this history. The beads represent the traditional colors of Mardi Gras, purple, green and gold and are associated with the phrase “Throw me something, mister!” which is yelled by parade goers to float riders.  Beads can be used as decorations and party favors, if playing a game with party guests, send home guests with a prize of Mardi Gras beads.

Last but certainly not least, candles. Mardi Gras and New Orleans always maintains a mysterious quality, and the celebrations tend to take place at night. To replicate that obscurity and darkness, light your party by candlelight! Candles not only make everything more beautiful, but lowering the light makes for a sexier and more intimate affair. You can use large candle tumblers filled with beads, or small votives filled with purple, green and gold confetti, check out both of these ideas and even more Mardi Gras candle decorations by clicking here!