As numerous reference books point out, Mardi Gras is a reference to Carnival celebrations, which begin on or after Epiphany and end on the day preceding Ash Wednesday. The actual word “Mardi Gras” is of French origin and is literally translated as “Fat Tuesday!” This term refers to the practice of eating rich and indulgent food before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season begins on Ash Tuesday. Who knew? Before I did my research, I thought it was a costume party in the world famous French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana! This style of party is a tradition worldwide and many people attend them regardless of whether they understand the real meaning or not. New Orleans held its first celebration in 1856, and from then on their little celebration evolved into a costume parade with floats and continuous revelry that attracts people from around the globe. No matter what, it IS a great excuse to create a costume! This includes the wearing of masks that sparkle, shine and catch the attention of other partygoers and observers alike. It is interesting this year that the Super Bowl will be held a little over a week before the actual date for Mardi Gras February 12, 2013 isn’t it? Maybe you or your friends are going to a Fat Tuesday party, and you know what? Goodwill is the BEST place to find lots of ideas for crazy costumes. They have beads, baubles, and other items that can help you get your look together in a flash.
If you want to celebrate Mardi Gras style, you’ll need a few simple things. A mask is a great place to start. If you don’t have one left over from Halloween, you could make a simple one using a shape like the template here, cut from felt or paper, or purchase an inexpensive one from a partly supply store. If you don’t want to do a mask, then you could embellish something you already have to create a costume. Next, you can go to Goodwill and check out all the jewelry they have which is usually around $1.99 per item. Especially for things like long glittery beads and other items that wouldn’t necessarily be street wear, but would work great for a project like this. Purple, green and gold are the traditional colors of this celebration, but you can do what you wish, of course! Then simply hot glue and pin in any configuration you like to your chosen item. The more the merrier is the motto when it comes to Fat Tuesday!
Goodwill is also a great place to find items that could be a great basis for more of a “French Quarter-type” of look that would include lots of lace, frills, and possibly feathers. Keep an eye out for gaudy dresses, jackets and tops in the colors I’ve mentioned. This is your chance to do over the top without a care for taste or refinement. Fun is the order of the day here!
Tip: don’t forget to look over the great selection that almost every store has right now, or after Christmas items. They can easily be converted into something that will not only catch the light, but your imagination as well. Tinsel garlands, plastic baubles and the like would be put to good use for a Mardi Gras party - and then they can also be re-used when Christmas rolls around again next year! I know for a fact because I purchased four silver glitter garlands still in the box, for only $2.99 the other day. I’ll hang on to them for decorating next Christmas.
No matter what you’re celebrating, or how you’ll dress, you can always find items that can spark your creative juices at the Goodwill Store & Donation Center near you. And, by purchasing at Goodwill, you’re helping out community programs that give people a chance to live better lives. Now that is something to celebrate folks!