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Ready...Set...Mardi Gras

The biggest party of the year will commence in New Orleans on March 4th, also known as Fat Tuesday! If your holiday purchases left you a little light in the pockets, never fear, you can throw your own Mardi Gras party right in the comfort of your own home!

Throw me something mister
Photo by Rusty Costanza/Getty Images

Carnival season actually runs from Saturday, Feb. 15-March 4, so you have plenty of time to plan the perfect celebration. Here are the top five things you need to have for an authentic Mardi Gras shin dig.

1.Beads, beads, and more beads. While tradition calls for beads to be thrown from atop balconies and floats, you may just want to have them around the house as decoration and hand them to guests as they walk in the door. Having your guests wear masks is also a fun idea!

2. Your colors must revolve around purple, green and gold. Purple represents justice, green represents faith and gold represents power. Your outfit, plates, beads, etc., should follow this color scheme.

3. Music is key to New Orleans culture, and Mardi Gras has it's own traditional songs that you will hear playing throughout each parade. There are several compilations available online, but three iconic songs are Do Whatcha Wanna, by Rebirth Brass Band, Walking to New Orleans, by Fats Domino and Go to the Mardi Gras by Professor Longhair.

4. Traditional Cajun/Creole food and libations. It goes without saying that food and drinks are key to any Mardi Gras celebration. If this type of cooking is not your strength, feel free to serve any type of cuisine, but try to keep the drinks traditional. Some favorites are the Hurricane, Sazerac, Mint Juleps or flavored daiquiris. At the very least, make sure you serve Abita beer.

5. King Cake is a requirement at any celebration during the Mardi Gras season. This sweet treat can be filled with cream cheese and fruit, or plain. You can make it yourself, or try to buy it online. (FYI...Several Whole Foods sell King Cakes nationwide during the week of Mardi Gras).

Stay tuned for my next article on the history of King Cake!