When I was growing up, one of my favorite things was Mardi Gras. The weekend before Mardi Gras, my mom’s extended family would come to visit from Texas and together with the Louisiana based clan, we would descend on Gonzales, LA – bear with me ‘cause I know Gonzales has nothing to do with Mardi Gras – but our family surely couldn’t afford the New Orleans hotel rates for all of us crazies. So, on the Friday night, we would all meet up at the Holiday Inn on Hwy 30 in Gonzales and it was a PARTY – hugs and kisses, food, drinks, and my God, the laughter – we would laugh until it hurt. We were in and out of the block of rooms we’d reserved, and we would catch up with everyone, but most importantly we were planning out all of the details for our Saturday in The Big Easy – and prepping our BBQ sandwiches. My cousins remember that well, don’t you guys?!
Saturday morning, we would leave at daybreak to drive into New Orleans and stake out our spot on St. Charles near Touro to watch the day parades and quickly breakdown “camp” and head over to Napoleon/Louisiana area to watch Endymion before we’d head back to the hotel very late on Saturday night. It was awesome! On Sunday, we would all part ways knowing that some of us would gather again at my great-aunt’s house on Mardi Gras day to party with the runners of the Courir de Mardi Gras in Basile, LA. Aunt Edna always had a Mardi Gras tree in her living room for all to admire. People would come from all over to witness this running of a Cajun Mardi Gras, where they stopped for lunch at Aunt Edna’s house. They even filmed it one year for a documentary – Dance For A Chicken.
My Aunt Edna has been gone for a few years now and the days of gathering for Mardi Gras in New Orleans are now just a memory, but this year, thanks to Covid-19 and being stuck at home, my family has decided to resurrect her Mardi Gras tree tradition. You see, I put my Christmas tree up early in November. I’m usually a stickler for the day after Thanksgiving, but I needed some extra joy in November, and I got it from the shimmering lights of our tree. And we wait until Jan 6th to start taking things down, but that was mid-week this year and the following weekend was COLD (by Louisiana standards) so our stuff is still up. As I was sitting on the couch one night feeling blue because I did not want to take the tree down, I casually mentioned to my husband that we should turn the tree into a Mardi Gras tree, fully expecting him to balk at the idea. He DIDN’T! And away my fingers went, searching and searching for what I needed from Amazon. By Tuesday, items started arriving and by Wednesday, the tree was near finished. I think this may be our new tradition.
Mardi Gras Tree Decorations
For now, here are a few of my favorite “rushed” finds for this year. Mardi Gras for my family was always loud and gaudy and pretty much anything goes. I have better (less cheap looking) options already on a wish list for next year, but beggars can’t be choosers, amiright?
Our tree is pre-lit with warm white lights, so I really just wanted to add purple and green lights to it, so I found these 60 ft light strands and they worked perfectly!
This garland went on the tree after the lights and honestly in pictures, it sort of gets lost, but in person it’s really visible. I think next year, I’ll change up how I use it a bit so that it shows up better. Two strands of this barely covered my 9.5 ft tree, so I think I’ll add another next year.
Despite the amount of glitter these poinsettias left in my house, I actually love them. Because the tree is green (and because the green they were offered in was too lime), I only got these in purple and gold. They fill in the gaps nicely. These masks were a nice space filler also.
No tree is complete without a topper and in a hurry, I snatched up some purple, green, and gold ostrich feathers. They got the job done but were a bit small. The description says 10-12 inches, but every one of them was closer to 10. I have some wooden skewers that I’ll end up gluing onto them so that I can secure them in the tree a little better.
The joy my family gets from this tree is worth any money that I spent on the decorations. I’ve enjoyed sharing the tales of Mardi Gras gone by as the kids listened intently and excitedly. My daughter is already planning a family parade through the neighborhood. Maybe one day, we’ll all get together again with our new generations and rekindle the tradition of Saturday in New Orleans. But until then, I’ll have my Mardi Gras tree and I hope that I’m making my sweet Aunt Edna proud.
Hmmm … Spring Fling Easter Tree? … At this point, I’m ruling nothing out.