Who needs the French Quarter when you can throw a Mardi Gras-themed party with panache right in your home? Planning and executing the perfect soiree that pays homage to the Cajun and Creole cultures has never been this easy or affordable.

While maybe in your college years the words Mardi Gras resoundingly reminded you of drunken bar crawls and neon strings of beads, it’s time to reframe this holiday and use that creative imagination of yours to make it your own!

Don’t hesitate to use these helpful suggestions to plan next week’s shindig. Afterwards, we know you’ll have people talking—maybe even in Southern drawl!

The Food:

Let’s forget colored beats for a second and talk about what traditional Mardi Gras culture is all about—the food! Cajun and Creole food is all about incorporating bold flavor into dishes—and what’s bolder than your own creative personality?

A make-your-own po’boys bar would be a perfect way to execute your theme while letting newbie Cajun-enthusiasts decide what they can handle. And, with these inexpensive yet exciting morsels, there’ll be plenty of reason to pressure your guests for seconds!

After picking up loaves of French bread (assume each guest will enjoy four to six inches worth of tasty po’boy), here’s the rest of what you’ll need for a great, authentic po’boys bar: fried shrimp and oysters, soft shell crab, catfish, crawfish, Louisiana hot sausage, roast beef and gravy—take your pick of two variations for your guests to enjoy, or all of them if you’re feeling adventurous.
Also, don’t forget lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise, pickle, onion, yellow mustard and Creole mustard (try Zatarain’s brand).

To complete your po’bar, create an “assembly line” first starting with appetizer plates and forks. Pre-slice the French bread to save your guests time, and then have them go crazy with their po’boy creation!

To round out the meal, have a few of your most imaginative guests bring their own unique rendition of “gumbo” using their favorite ingredients! Serve the gumbo in plastic, disposable coffee cups so your guests can sip as they mingle!

If you’d like to leave the food to the professional Swamp People, a few Indy restaurants that boast an impressive selection of Cajun and Creole-inspired grub are currently offering Mardi Gras pick-up catering. Here are some restaurants to check out:

•    The Far Eastside joint Papa Roux is notorious for its chicken and sausage jambalaya and other classic entrees and supports a great cause- the Papa Roux team is honoring the lives that were lost and destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

•    Carmel-based Mudbugs Cajun Café works with party hosts to find a deal that’s right for them. There’s nothing better than a catering-sized portion of Shrimp Etouffee to get party guests talking!

•    Indy’s most recognizable Cajun and Creole favorite, Yats, is happy to service more intimate groups of 25 or less, but you may be limited to what’s on the daily menu. Even so, it’s an Indy favorite for a reason—the food is to authentic and delicious!
The Drink:
Look no further than serving your meal with the perfect Bloody Mary beverage bar. Refer to this past Snappening blog post for the details! It’s one part alcohol and two parts individualism, so we know you can handle it!
The Dessert:

In lieu of buying a King’s Cake from a grocery store or bakery, try this unique trick. It will double as a colorful table centerpiece as well as a tasty dessert!

Make your own mini King’s cakesicles using just a few simple ingredients you can find at your local supermarket! Pick up a few tubes of premade biscuit dough (think “Grands”)—plan on getting enough so that your guests can have one or two.

Before baking it according to instructions, melt butter and spread it into the biscuit’s center. Do the same with sugar and cinnamon. You should use enough to where there is a thin, yet visible layer’s worth of each ingredient. Make sure the biscuit dough is sealed up as best you can.

Bake according to package directions.

After letting your biscuits cool slightly, lather your biscuits, one side at a time, with cream cheese frosting. You can buy it, or make your own using your favorite recipe. Here’s a link to Martha Stewart’s cream cheese frosting recipe in case you don’t have a favorite.

While the frosting is still sticky, spoon green, purple and gold colored sugar to resemble a King’s cake. Let the sugar sit until it has hardened and repeat the frosting and sugaring process on the other side.

Pick up some wooden barbeque skewers from the grilling aisle and stick them partway through your biscuits. You may need a few skewers per biscuit depending on their weight.

Stick the biscuit bouquet in a vase anchored filled with layers and layers of those coveted bright Mardi Gras beads (we just couldn’t say no to using these in some way) and ta-da! Your Mardi Gras King Cakesicles will surely be a hit!

Tell your guests to come dressed as their favorite Swamp Thing or Jazz star and pick up a copy of either volume of New Orleans Funk or just about anything by Dr. John from Broad Ripple’s Indy CD & Vinyl to complete your atmosphere!

Tell us on Facebook how you made this Snappening idea your own!