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Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Mardi Gras Destination Potluck

Destination Potlucks are back! And we've started with an easy theme/destination: New Orleans. With Mardi Gras in full swing, I decided we would do our own little Mardi Gras party. As a reminder, everyone brings a dish (or more) or beverage, and dress up if they like. We then all eat and learn about our destination. In this case, we learned facts about Mardi Gras.

Destination Potlucks are back! And we've started with an easy theme/destination: Mardi Gras/New Orleans.

I hit up my local dollar store and bought a ton of beads (because what is Mardi Gras without beads?) and both decorated with them and handed them out to people. I also picked up masks and boas. 

I also bought some fun street signs and banners, because I really wanted a party vibe. It's not a bead-laden
tree in Nola, but that's okay. I think I did a decent job of doing it on a smaller scale.

You know I don't have destination themes without backdrops. This one was used in our last New Orleans date night, but it gave the best Mardi Gras feel, because of the balconies. This is up high, because I wanted everyone to be able to see it when we were all sitting and milling around. Also, balconies are up high.

I also ordered a Steamboat Natchez backdrop, because the river is one of my favorite things. I pinned it up behind the table. 

I got a lovely green tablecloth, added my streetlamps that I purchased for another DDN, covered them in beads, and then added some foil strands from a curtain I bought and then didn't really use as intended. 

I have taken to skipping paper plates and just purchasing the plastic plates from Target that are just $.50 each. They're pretty great, dishwasher safe, and reusable. I usually buy a dozen or so and that works for smaller parties, but you can also mix-and-match. (Despite this picture, they're actually gray. I also like that they have a lip, so they're easier to hold onto and harder to spill.) I did gold cups and utensils and found these adorable napkins. Now, let's talk about food:

Now, you can't go to Nola and not have a muffuletta sandwich. It's basically, prociutto, salami, mozzarella, provolone, and an olive spread. In order to make this for a crowd, I opted for the pinwheel version with croissant dough. I cheated and bought olive bruschetta spread. With so many heavy foods coming, I wanted a veggie and did this maque choux, a Cajun corn dish.

I'll tell you what: if you have any sort of southern feast and it doesn't include cornbread, did you even eat southern food? Our friend, Linda, brought both spicy and regular cornbread. Yum!

Our friend, Nicole, brought pecan pie (on the right) and these amazing deep-fried Cajun deviled eggs. Our friend, Robyn, brought jambalaya (which you can see at the top). Our friend, Kara, brought gumbo in a crock pot. 

When in New Orleans, you'll find quite a few hot sauce "bars", which are shops that only sell hot sauces, but you can try all of them before you buy. I did a mini hot sauce bar here with 4 popular Louisiana sauces. The Slap Ya Mama gives some really good heat and the Tabasco jalapeno one is my favorite, but pretty mild, so if you can't handle too much spice, this one is for you.

You gotta have some cocktails and other drinks, so I made coffee with chicory, and an alcoholic and non-alcoholic batch of mint juleps. To add to the party atmosphere, I bought these flashing drink cubes, which are liquid activated. Everyone thought they were super fun.

It's traditional that King Cake is served for Mardi Gras. It's a basic yeasty cinnamon cake, which can be kind of bland, so I made mini ones with cinnamon rolls and then used colored sugar to make them festive. 

As always, you gotta have a baby inside your cake. The person who finds it in their slice (or, in this case, mini cake) will have luck and prosperity for the coming year and they pass it on the next year by throwing the next party and/or baking the next cake. You can also use a coin or a bean. Just make sure your guests know it's a possibility, so they aren't surprised.

Obviously, we had to get in the spirit of things. I purchased shirts for myself and Eric, and also head boppers from the dollar store. Even though I didn't get any photos, our friends also did a bit of dressing up for the theme with Mardi Gras colors. 

I like people to learn things when they come to our house. I printed out some fun facts about Mardi Gras food, history, and parades and pinned them up around the kitchen and living room. We'll be trying to do a trivia game for our next one to see if that works even better. 

I love to start the party before people even come inside. Swamp tours are prevalent in Louisiana and we saw alligators on them, but also just out while driving through the state. I got this great inflatable gator and added a caution sign near him and beaded up my front bench. You can see a daytime shot that I did with the dog on my Instagram.

I hope this helps you to throw a fun Mardi Gras party in the future or gives you inspiration for a different destination potluck. This is a fun way to travel without traveling and include all your friends as well. You can trade off whose house you meet at and come up with cool games in order to learn more about your destination, play some thematic music and/or make a YouTube playlist to play in the background.

How do you celebrate Mardi Gras?

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