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How to throw: A Mardi Gras Party!

It's that time again - Fat Tuesday! You don't need to be in New Orleans to celebrate Mardi Gras. Time for beads of purple, gold and green, and some seriously fun traditions! On this gluttonous holiday, you can also incorporate options to satisfy all your party friends - whether they have allergies or special dietary restrictions, or just want to stick to their new year's resolutions! So, without any further ado, here are some ideas to get your Mardi Gras party started...

Decorations Masks and beads galore in gold, purple, and green will transform your party into a marvelous Mardi Gras worthy of Bourbon Street. One of my personal favorite sites for party decorations is Oriental Trading.

Music "Jazz" up the party atmosphere with some authentic New Orleans music. Try these suggestions from NPR.

Drinks Hurricane - Stir the party up with this New Orleans classic.

Mardi Gras Punch - Mix frozen pineapple juice concentrate or sherbet with lemon-lime soda and a touch of orange juice. Freeze purple grapes, then float them in the punch along with some lime wedges. Garnish the rim of the bowl with pineapple wedges and limes slices. Serve immediately and get ready for your taste buds to be delighted just as quickly.

Food Jambalaya - This vegan version of the popular Creole dish looks delicious and is much healthier than the original without sparing taste!

King cake - First, make a cake however you like it. I would take an allergy-free shortcut by whipping up a tasty Cherrybrook Kitchen cake. Keep to the color theme and try arranging fruit slices in sections, such as banana slices, kiwis, and blueberries and/or blackberries for a pretty, healthy spin. Insert a small toy into the bottom of the cake and whoever gets the piece with it becomes "king or queen for the day."

Activities Bead toss - Place a bottle on the floor and distribute 3 bead necklaces to each player (1 color per person). Stand back about 10 feet and whoever lands the most beads around the bottle wins.

Kings (card game) - Assign an action to each card that people will need to do throughout the game when they draw a card (i.e. if someone draws a King, they can make a rule that everyone must do for the remainder of the game). The penalty for forgetting the rule is to take a sip of their drink (for 21+, alcohol optional!) Sit in a circle and as each player takes turn drawing a card, they must follow the house rules corresponding to the cards. It's usually a hilarious time! The game ends when all cards have been drawn.

Those are just a few of the suggestions to make your Mardi Gras memorable. As the Mardi Gras slogan says, let the good times roll! What are your plans for Mardi Gras?

Cooking with Kim: The joy of the crockpot

Happy President's Day!