Ways to Celebrate Mardi Gras with Kids

Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, or Carnival are some of the many names of the well-known holiday popular for its celebrations that occur approximately 46-47 days before Easter.

Traditionally, Mardi Gras is celebrated with floats, balls, parades, music, and traditional foods. New Orleans isn’t the only place Mardi Gras is celebrated either, it is celebrated all across Southern Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, and Texas and has spread throughout the U.S. and the world! Some people may shy away from celebrating Mardi Gras with their kids because of the craziness of Bourbon Street in New Orleans but there is so much more to the holiday that kids can experience and learn about the traditions and history.

Here are a few ways that you can celebrate Mardi Gras at home with your kids.

  • Start by learning the history and origin of Mardi Gras with these helpful kid-friendly videos from PBS Kids and Hey! Guess What   
  • Get crafty! Make your own Mardi Gras float out of a shoe box, Mardi Gras bead necklace (using dyed noodles, beads, or candy), or decorate your own Mardi Gras hats, crowns, and masks.
  • Cook some traditional foods such as Jambalaya, Crawfish boil, red beans and rice, shrimp and grits, or gumbo. There are tons of recipes for different versions of gumbo but I decided to share this one from my Snoop Dogg cookbook because it doesn’t have any seafood or okra in it (which I’m not a fan of).

Snoop Dogg’s Dirty South Gumbo


      • 2 lb chicken thighs (or chicken breasts)

      • 1/2 tbsp Creole seasoning

      • 1 tsp salt

      • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

      • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

      • 1/2 large yellow onion, chopped

      • 1 red bell pepper, chopped

      • 2 celery stalks, roughly chopped

      • 2 garlic cloves, peeled

      • 4 cups chicken stock

      • 3/4 lb kielbasa, andouille sausage, or chicken sausage, sliced into thin rounds

      • 1 bay leaf

      • 2 tbsp finely minced fresh parsley leaves

      • 1 bunch of scallions sliced, plus more for serving

      • 1/8 cup Louisiana hot sauce, plus more for serving

      • 3 cups cooked rice (1 cup uncooked)


      • Season the chicken with Creole seasoning and half the salt. Set aside and let come to room temperature.

      • In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, warm 1 tbsp vegetable oil. Working in batches so as not to crowd the pan, add the chicken to the pot. Sear for 4 to 5 minutes, turning occasionally, until golden brown all over. Transfer the cooked chicken to a plate.

      • Adjust the heat under the pot to medium-low. Add the remaining vegetable oil to the Dutch oven and let them warm for several minutes.

      • Whisk in the flour until thoroughly combined to form a roux. Cook the roux for 25 to 30, whisking frequently, until dark brown. It is very important that you do not let the roux burn or stick to the bottom of the pot; it will ruin the gumbo’s flavor (and that would be a shame)

      • While the roux cooks, in a food processor, combine the onion, red bell pepper, celery, and garlic. Pulse until very finely minced.

      • When the roux is dark brown, add the vegetable mixture and stir to combine. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes until the vegetables are soft and the mixture is very thick. Stir in the chicken stock. Raise the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil. Adjust the heat to maintain a simmer and scrape up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pot.

      • Stir in the remaining salt, the sausage, bay leaf, and cooked chicken. Cover the pot and simmer the gumbo for 1 hour. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface.

      • Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and use two forks to shred it. Return the shredded chicken to the pot along with the parsley, scallions, and hot sauce. Simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Taste and season with salt, as needed. Remove and discard bay leaf.

      • Serve the hot gumbo over rice, garnished with scallions, and with more hot sauce on the side.

  • Dress up (with your crafted crowns, masks, and floats) and have a parade!
  • You can’t forget the baked treats! Make your own King Cake or try making these King Cake Cinnamon Roll Cookies. If you don’t want to bake, most grocery stores or local bakeries will have King Cakes available to purchase.

You don’t have to be in New Orleans to celebrate Mardi Gras! Hopefully, these activities will help bring the festive celebration into your home.

What are some of your favorite ways to celebrate Mardi Gras?


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