It’s that time of year when the shorter days, colder temperatures, and too much distance between holidays make us feel like we have no reason to celebrate. After all, spring is not quite here and Easter is more than a month away. But don’t despair: French for “Fat Tuesday,” Mardi Gras is a time to indulge before the sacrificial Lenten season for those who practice the ritual of giving something up.
French-culture lovers, New Orleans natives, and fun-loving people around the world celebrate Mardi Gras on the last Tuesday before Ash Wednesday—falling on March 1 this year. It’s even a legal holiday in Louisiana! But no matter where you live, caregivers can take advantage of this fun celebration as a reason to enjoy some traditional festivities with senior loved ones.
Take a trip to your local party planning store, do some easy online shopping, or get out your craft kit to celebrate Mardi Gras with the older adults you help care for this year! Here are some ideas to get you started.
Green, gold and purple are the colors of the day when it comes to Mardi Gras celebrations. Plus, this event is an excuse to break out any costume jewelry you’ve collected over the years and wear it all! There’s no such thing as too much bling on Mardi Gras!
If your senior loved one has a collection of special, authentic jewelry, you can take time to go through each piece with them and hear the inevitable story behind how they acquired it and why they’ve held onto it all these years.
Make your own masks
You can go Mardi Gras from head to toe or just keep it above the shoulders by making your own mask! According to NewOrleans.com, masks became a tradition at Mardi Gras so royalty could mingle with people from outside of their social class without harming their reputation. Masquerade parties are still all the rage in Italy, but you can bring the tradition home by purchasing masks online or making your own.
Break out the décor
Make your senior loved one’s eyes light up by taking some time to put up decorations around the house. Classic Mardi Gras decorations include strings of beads, masks, balloons, baubles, feathers and festive dinnerware.
Get busy in the kitchen
Bake a king cake! One of the most known yet perhaps least understood traditions of Mardi Gras is the baking of a king cake. These delicious traditional treats are decorated with green, purple and gold icing, sprinkles and other flair, and an authentic king cake will hide a small, plastic baby inside! Tradition states that if you get the piece of the cake with the baby inside, you host the next Mardi Gras party and provide the cake.
Try mixing up a classic, New Orleans-style Sazerac with rye whiskey or have a sober celebration with this mocktail version. If your taste buds prefer something sweeter, you can mix up a hurricane or try this fruit-filled mocktail version.
If you’re struggling for meal ideas, this one-pot jambalaya dish and other Cajun cuisine could spice up your senior’s week. As always, consider your loved one’s unique dietary needs before serving up any of these recipes.
Listen to jazz
Maybe your senior loved one can dust off their vintage record player and give you a tutorial on their favorite tunes and how nothing touches the soul quite like an old vinyl. Or for a more modern musical mix, check out playlists on Spotify and Apple iTunes custom-made for this occasion!
Throw a homemade parade
Invite the kids in your family who live nearby to the house for a new family tradition. Donning your masks and beads, turn up the jazz music and parade all around. If your senior loved one struggles with mobility, they will thoroughly enjoy watching their family and friends act silly as they exuberantly embrace the Mardi Gras spirit with their march around the room.
You can also livestream parades from around the country on your TV or mobile device for a socially distanced way to enjoy the celebration.
Most of these ideas are adaptable to your older adult’s health status and location, and can involve many members of the family or just a couple. While taking the time to plan for a special occasion can sound like nothing more than extra work, remember you can go big or go small! Even incorporating just one facet of these traditional Mardi Gras celebrations into your week can inject some much-needed joy.
It’s hard to find time to give yourself a break when you’re a caregiver. But finding reasons to celebrate – especially on a Tuesday – may be just the ticket to brightening your day—and that of your loved one.