By Kristen Wright Matthews, Editor & Publisher of February 11, 2024

If you can’t make it to N’Awlins (as the natives pronounce New Orleans) to experience Mardi Gras this year, Macaroni Kid has got you covered! A winter holiday also called Carnival, this is a weeklong celebration filled with fun and tradition that culminates on Fat Tuesday (which is "Mardi Gras" in French). Fat Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the religious season of Lent. Some of the activities that take place during Mardi Gras are parades and festivals, and it's typical to see people dressed in flamboyant and/or silly costumes. This annual tradition that takes place around the City of New Orleans and is specifically centered around the city's famous French Quarter and the food which is a rich part of the culture. 

Much of Carnival is not suitable for children, but it's easy to create a fun experience for kids. Here are eight ways to experience this exciting time right at home:

1. Start the Day with a Delicious French Delicacy - a Beignet

One of the tastiest treats of Mardi Gras is a Beignet, a warm, puffy pastry-like dessert, dusted with powdered sugar. The Beignet (somewhat like a donut but with a French twist) is doughy on the inside and crispy on the outside, which is acquired by a dip in the deep fryer. Kids will enjoy helping with the mixing, rolling, and especially playing in the powdered sugar. You can check out this traditional recipe or try this healthier, baked option on Eat, Live, Run. For those who rather skip the measuring, you can purchase a box of mix from Cafe Du Monde, the iconic New Orleans coffee shop famous for the sugary treats.

2. Make Your Own Masks

Playing dress-up at one time or another is at the top of every child's list. Nothing is better than wearing a costume but making one. You can enjoy the Mardi Gras masquerade tradition with this simple and fun Mardi Gras mask craft. 

You can embellish your mask with whatever you have on hand. Search on Pinterest for some inspiration. To make it fun for the kids, the more glitter and feathers, the better!

DIY Mardi Gras Mask

Materials Needed
Heavy cover stock paper or a paper plate   
1 jumbo craft stick or straw
Green, gold and/or purple sequins and/or craft jewels
White craft glue
Cutting mat (optional)

3. Bake (or Buy) a King Cake
This large, braided pastry is often covered with sugar in the Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold. The best part is finding the baby! I've seen them in Kroger for about $10.99 or you can make your own with this easy TRADITIONAL KING CAKE recipe.

4. Learn to Speak a Little French

Kids will get a kick out of trying to pronounce French words. Here are some Mardi Gras-related words to get you started:

  • la reine = queen
  • le roi = king
  • un defile = parade
  • un collier = necklace
  • le violet = purple (justice)
  • l'or = gold (power)
  • le vert = green (faith)
  • laissez les bon temps rouler = Let the good times roll

5. Whip Up a Cajun Dish 

Jambalaya - A delicious blend of rice, veggies, and protein. This easy versatile recipe can be adapted to fit any taste -- or picky eater. Feel free to interchange the protein. You can use chicken, sausage, seafood, veggies, or all of them if you like.

Po Boy Sandwiches - You can't' go wrong with a sandwich when it comes to kids. Pending what your children like, you can buy a French roll from Walmart for $1.00 and fill it with seafood, sausage, chicken, or veggies. That's why it's called a Po Boy. You can put anything you want on it and have a big meal on a budget.    

6. Form Your Own Krewe

Krewes are an important part of Mardi Gras -- they're the groups that get together to organize the parades. Some of the most famous ones include the Krewe of Rex, Krewe of Endymion and Krewe of Orpheus. Create your own krewe, complete with a name, then design and make a SHOEBOX FLOAT for your own parade!

7. Make Custom Mardi Gras Necklaces

If you're reading this, you're a Macaroni Kid family and at MacKid, we love macaroni, especially dying it. You read that correctly. You don't have to go out and buy fancy beads, you can dye macaroni. Add some string or fishing line from your local craft store, and get to stringing. This is an inexpensive craft that will keep kids busy for hours.

How to Dye Pasta:

Materials Needed
  •  Pasta of various shapes and sizes (tube pasta such as ziti make the best beads)         
  • Rubbing alcohol (or white vinegar)         
  • Food coloring         
  • Freezer bags
  • Paper towels
1. Pour the pasta into gallon sized freezer bags
2. Add about 10-12 drops of food dye.
3. Poured a splash of rubbing alcohol into the bag.
4. Sealing the bag and squish everything all around until the pasta is covered with color.
5. Let it sit for about 10 minutes, occasionally shacking the bag to distribute the color.
6. Line a baking sheet with paper towels and dump pasta into the pan to dry for a few hours.
7. After completely dry, store in a clean freezer bag or container.

Learn about other fun, family holidays and events this month HERE.

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