It’s carnival season! But, like everything else in the last year, Mardi Gras has been canceled… at least, in the traditional sense. In 2020, Mardi Gras was one of the last normal celebrations before everything shut down.
As we approach the 1-year mark living in lockdown, I can tell you that my desire to visit places of grandeur — Vegas, Times Square, and of course, New Orleans — has only heightened.
I went to college in Baton Rouge, which is about an hour outside of New Orleans. I stayed in Louisiana for 8 years after college, and during my time there, I soaked in the culture, the food, and many Mardi Gras celebrations.
Mardi Gras in New Orleans is a trip for the senses: the music, the colors, the lights, the costumes, the people… the food and drink… it’s a celebration of everything people love before they give it up for Lent.
So, even though I don’t live in Louisiana anymore, I thought I’d round up some ways you can celebrate from home. This way, you have a little fun that’s safe for everyone and support New Orleans at the same time.
Let’s do this!
Have a King Cake Delivered to Your Door
I already ordered a personal (mini-sized) King Cake for myself and it came undecorated with a bag of icing and sprinkles… and of course, the baby to put inside.
It was enough for 3 hefty slices that I ate for breakfast 3 days in a row. It was delicious and I highly recommend it.
Note: Be sure to order soon, since Mardi Gras is February 16!
Order some delicious Zapps
If you’ve never had Zapp’s, place an order immediately. Potato chip lovers rejoice — this is a chip that’s crunchy via kettle cooking and it’s full of New Orleans flavor. My mouth is watering just thinking about them! The Spicy Cajun Crawtater are my favorite 🙂
Sip some New Orleans Coffee
If you’re a coffee-lover, or maybe you’ve got a hangover the size of a parade float, you’re going to need some stiff, flavorful coffee to help matters. Here’s a few NOLA businesses that are shipping their coffee wherever you are:
- French Truck Coffee: If you’re feeling really festive, go for the Commander’s Palace Coffee + Chicory. Plus, they have cute merch.
- Congregation Coffee Roasters: They have unique beans and offer a subscription service!
- Mojo Coffee Roasters: A wide selection of blends, but there’s also a sampler if you’re looking for a variety of flavors.
Make Your Own Beignets
If you’ve ever been to New Orleans, there’s a chance you stopped at the famous Cafe du Monde and plucked a steamin’ hot beignet from a plate piled high with powdered sugar. It’s absolutely delicious! You can load your digital cart with official beignet mix and make these beauties right at home! There’s also tons of other Cafe du Monde merch and goodies you can order.
If pralines are your dessert-of-choice, order a batch from Loretta’s!
Get authentic New Orleans Grub
That’s right, you can order from Commander’s Palace — located in the heart of New Orleans’ Garden District — and have it shipped to your house. Seafood gumbo, cheese grits, pecan pie… Lord, help us.
If Po’Boys are more your thing… well, order a sandwich and rum cake from Parkway Bakery & Tavern, which has some of the most famous Po’Boys in the country. Yum!
If you want to make your own authentic Louisiana dishes, start by ordering some Camellia red beans and whipping up some red beans and rice. There’s beans and soup mixes for sale, plus tons of recipes right on their site.
Make it a point to check out NOLA Cajun, which is an online grocery store that ships authentic New Orleans favorites right to you. Grab a jar of olive salad to make your own Muffuletta or stock up on condiments and spices.
There are loads of cookbooks from New Orleans chefs, but I’ve been eyeing this one from Mosquito Supper Club. It’s on my list of places I want to go once life returns and books ordered from the restaurant’s website will be signed.
Make a proper New Orleans Cocktail
Pretend you’re in the French Quarter and sip on a Pat O’Brien’s Hurricane! I’d also recommend grabbing the Bloody Mary Mix for the morning after… You can even buy official Pat O’s glassware if you’re serious.
You can also place an order from Seven Three Distilling if you’re looking for New Orleans spirits. That cucumber vodka sounds like perfection!
If wine is more your taste, support a Black-owned wine company by ordering with Ole’ Orleans! They even have virtual wine tastings – cheers!
Cigars often go hand-in-hand with the right cocktail, so grab a few at the New Orleans Cigar Factory.
Get festive attire
It’s not Mardi Gras without some sparkle, and Fringe + Co is the place to get it.
Get a sparkly headwrap, a sequined face mask, party cups, you name it! I just ordered my first head wrap and a beaded mask chain with a saucy message on it.
Take a look at Maskarade, which has ALL kinds of authentic masks for any season — not just for Mardi Gras! These are masks to wear, collect, and keep; they are beautiful!
Fleurty Girl is the original New Orleans boutique, and they have all sorts of stuff in their online shop, including a Mardi Gras box with festive goodies!
My friend and fellow book-lover who lives in New Orleans just opened Oliver and Grace, where you can get clothes, gifts, and all kinds of fun stuff.
Be one with the VooDoo
It ain’t New Orleans if you don’t venture into the world of VooDoo and the funky stuff, right? You can grab a Tarot deck, a wand, and crystals at Bottom of the Cup. Voodoo Authentica is another option that has ritual kits, African art, and voodoo dolls. You can also book a psychic reading over the phone at Earth Odyssey and pick up some crystal jewelry while you’re at it!
Support New Orleans Creatives
Many musicians and artists haven’t been able to work this last year. Here are a few places you can donate to that support them:
- New Orleans Musicians Clinic: They provide meals, mental health care, and COVID testing for local musicians.
- Culture Aid New Orleans: They distribute free, fresh food to anyone in New Orleans without stigma, and no ID required.
- Second Harvest Food Bank: They feed Southern Louisiana
- Feed the Second Line: The “Krewe of Red Beans” puts younger musicians to work and having them drive elders and the at-risk community to get COVID vaccines.
So, who’s ready to celebrate?? I sure am! I also put a few Mardi Gras digital downloads in my Etsy Shop if you’re looking to spruce up your Instagram account and/or make some printed goodies.
If you know of any other great places in New Orleans that could use the support right now, please leave a comment so we can all shop and enjoy!