Mardi Gras means "Fat Tuesday" in French. It is a celebration full of feasting and merriment just before Lent is ushered in for the 40 days of "self denial" leading up to Easter. Mardi Gras is the time to march in parades, eat treats, sing and dance, and generally celebrate good times. This is a great opportunity to have a fabulous party for your family, your kids, and their friends!

Mardi Gras means "Fat Tuesday" in French. It is a celebration full of feasting and merriment just before Lent is ushered in for the 40 days of "self denial" leading up to Easter. Mardi Gras is the time to march in parades, eat treats, sing and dance, and generally celebrate good times. This is a great opportunity to have a fabulous party for your family, your kids, and their friends!

Here are some tips for your celebration:

• Have the kids come to your home in costumes for a parade, or ask them to dress in the traditional colors of purple (justice), green (faith), and gold (power).

• Have a parade through your neighborhood. Make sure you have adult supervision to keep the kids together and safe.

• Buy balloons, streamers, and tableware in the traditional colors of purple, green, and gold. Have candies and beads on the table in these colors for added decoration.

• Play fun Cajun music in the background, and prepare for the parade by having someone paint the kids' faces purple, green, and gold.

• Crown two people king and queen of the parade. This can be based on a costume contest, or by providing each child with a set of beads and having two sets secretly marked. The kids who get the marked beads are the king and queen.

• Give away tons of beads as prizes and added fun during the parade. The kids can take them home as party favors after the festivities.

• Create a bead game. Start everyone out with five strands of beads, and make "Fat Tuesday" or "Mardi Gras" the "IT" words. When someone is caught saying the words, they have to give a strand of beads to the person who caught them. The person with the most strands of beads at the end of the party wins!

• Play "Pass the Baby" like you would play "Hot Potato." Instead of passing a potato, the kids can pass a baby doll while Cajun music plays. When the music stops, the kid holding the baby is out. The game continues until only one child is remaining. (The baby is traditionally what is supposed to be hiding in the King's Cake.)

• Color milk green or purple with food coloring, and serve it with King's Cake.

• Other items you may want to serve include jambalaya, jumbo shrimp, pancakes, donuts, and chocolates.

Happy Mardi Gras!

--Lisa Kothari, Peppers and Pollywogs