This post is not about the dance of trying to wrangle a squirmy toddler into a diaper or pair of pants while living in the great state of Texas.
Although I have been known to grab a napkin and second line through the wiping of the face, hands and any other body part that found itself grubby after mealtime, this post is in fact about Mardi Gras. We just happen to live in Texas, have a toddler nicknamed “The Sheriff” and one baby on the way, and we hope to share our Louisiana culture with our little guy and his friends while living here.
We managed to make it back to Louisiana the weekend before Mardi Gras the first year of The Sheriff’s life but missed out on anything parade related due to a double ear infection and nasty weather. The timing didn’t work out last year, so the little guy missed another great LA tradition. In person.
We created our own parade instead, albeit one in the back yard with one “float” rider clad in cute Mardi Gras attire but not so much a masked costume, one parade-goer with a camera, and a handful of beads.
With a baby due to arrive a couple of weeks after Mardi Gras Day, we won’t make it home again this year, but after a successful toddler play date last year, I hope to continue to find ways to bring Louisiana traditions to life here in Texas (while of course vowing to make it home next year), and that also means an annual Mardi Gras Mambo kid party.
Last Year’s Mardi Gras Mambo
We kept it simple last year. I borrowed this DIY Mardi Gras bead idea and had a station set up for the kids and mommas alike to craft their own wearable art.
Another LA friend brought beads and other treats for the kids, and we had a few LA themed snacks like these fleur-de-lis Rice Krispie treats.
Our weather here in Texas wasn’t so great so the kids did a bit of musical play and mostly managed to take out every toy we own and leave it lying around somewhere. Normal play date activity!
The kids are a bit older, and we are getting more of a head start, so we hope to include these activities for our out-of-town carnival and hope that you find some inspiration for your own toddler Mardi Gras activities.
This Year’s Plans: Mardi Gras Crafts, Toddler Parades, Music and Food
All parade goers and riders need festive attire, so this year I found some simple crafts to help us out. This Jester Hat template looks perfect to prepare ahead of time and have the pieces for the kiddos to glue or tape on come play date time. I also think this paper plate mask would work great if we have time for our purple, green and gold paint to dry before parading. The kids will surely enjoy the feathers, and I like the idea of the craft stick so they can hold them up to their faces instead of having to wear the elastic around their heads. If those fail, this simple mask template would work great for coloring and glueing to a straw for the same effect.
All parades need a route, and this year we are taking it to a park (weather permitting, of course) for a wagon/stroller parade. Although we aren’t in LA, our Dollar Tree carries some Mardi Gras decorations which will be perfect for decking out our “floats.” A little tinsel goes a long way! If you live in an area where Mardi Gras decor is not available at all, plan early! Be sure to bring some decorations and other throws back home with you after this year’s visit or ask a Louisiana relative to bring some on his next visit.
Don’t forget; what’s Mardi Gras without the music? While difficult to ask all of the play date attendees to bring an umbrella to decorate or to provide them myself, I plan on buying some plain white handkerchiefs or thick napkins for the kids to decorate with markers and stickers so we can second line along the way. Our Texas park won’t know what to do with itself as our toddlers mambo around to the Mardi Gras music coming from our portable stereo!
And finally, we can’t forget the food! This year I’m bringing the king cake. We live close enough to Louisiana, and I suppose have enough LA natives that the grocery stores carry our beloved carnival season pastries. They don’t quite match up to those we’d find back home. I’m considering these King Cake cupcakes instead which would be a perfect alternative if you can’t find any in your area. I might make little cards explaining the meaning of the colors, shape, and of course, little baby inside.
Although we might not find ourselves back home as often as we’d like, keeping our Louisiana traditions close at heart will always be important. Whether you reside in The Pelican State or find yourself outside of state lines and missing home this time of year, I hope these play date ideas inspire you to light up your toddler’s eyes this Mardi Gras!
I’m Jenn, South Louisiana born and raised, North Louisiana educated (L-O-U I-S-I A-N-A Tech! Dawgs!) and Texas “polished.” My husband and I welcomed our son in 2010, and after teaching high school English for six years, I traded in A Tale of Two Cities and essay grading for Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site and new routines as a stay-at-home mom. When I’m not finding our favorite ways to learn while playing and keeping a semi-scheduled life for our family, I enjoy reading, exercising, crafting and blogging. Y’all come say hi at When In Doubt, Add More Salt.