If you’re gathering friends and family to help you celebrate this holiday known for its high energy and excess, you’ll up the fun factor by pulling any of the following games out of your party hat.
- Gold Coin Treasure Hunt: Design three Treasure Chests (cardboard boxes – one painted gold, one green, one purple) and fill them with costume jewelry, play money and candy gold coins. Hide the boxes throughout your party space and write three sets of clever clues (bonus points for rhyming!). Divide your guests into gold, green and purple teams and give each the first of their set of clues. Solving it will lead each team to its next clue and so on. First pair to find their treasure chest wins bragging rights!
- Project Mask: Provide at least one blank mask (available at craft stores) per guest along with clear-drying glue, beads, feathers, sequins, glitter, permanent markers and anything else worthy of embellishing your Mardi Gras masks. Assign prize categories such as Simplest, Most Extravagant, Most Colorful and People’s Choice.
- Mardi Gras Trivia: Think back to Trivial Pursuit as you search the Internet for more on the history, legends, traditions and foods associated with the weeks-long celebration that is Mardi Gras. Write questions (and answers) on index cards and play a round or two of Who Knows What About Mardi Gras?, with correct answers collecting points along the way. Speed and bonus rounds will keep things especially lively.
- Mini Carnivale: Invoke the spirit of Mardi Gras carnivals by partitioning off part of your party space for games often seen in Midways. Mini Bowling is as easy as setting up empty 20-ounce soda bottles bowling pin-style and rolling a small ball (softballs work well) to knock them down. Mini basketball hoops are found even at dollar stores and can be set up on a door or wall for Hoop-Throwing Challenges. If you have young kids involved, they’ll enjoy the Duck Pond, where you fill a wide, shallow container with water and rubber ducks. Numbers on the bottom of the ducks correspond to the prize earned.
- Mardi Gras Musical Chairs: This party game isn’t just for elementary school carnivals! Set up chairs (one fewer than number of players to start) and play the Mardi Gras tunes (Zydeco and swing bands are good bets). Assign someone – or yourself – to start and stop the music and let the crazy begin.
- Find the Baby (Again): If you’re serving King Cake, ask the guest who finds the “baby” in his or her slice to hide it in the party room. The hider can encourage party guests with hints of “you’re getting hotter” and “colder, colder!” to lead party guests to finding that baby a second time.
Games need prizes, so reward your winners with fun Mardi Gras trinkets such as gold foil-wrapped chocolate coins; feather boas; gold, green and purple strings of beads; mini bottles of favorite Mardi Gras spirits such as rum (age-appropriate, of course); and costume crowns.