Fat Tuesday Partying on an Ash Wednesday Budget

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Mardi Gras celebrations are no longer limited to the Crescent City. You’ll find beads, baubles and fine Cajun food everywhere from big-city civic centers to small-town backyards. Throw together some Second Line jazz, a few party hats, home-mixed Hurricanes and a crayfish boil and you’ve got your own celebration.

You could lay out plenty for a prime-time Mardi Gras party, but there are always a few tips and tricks to help reduce costs. Check out the following seven ways to save while enjoying Fat Tuesday.

1. Homemade Food
You could spend a fortune on catering to get that Cajun flavor, but home cooking is the frugal way to go; plus, it provides an opportunity to learn more about this unique culture. Check out Real Cajun Recipes for easy and inexpensive ideas. You might assign different dishes to willing attendees to share the work and cost.

2. Rent or Borrow
Don’t bother buying Hurricane glasses, Mardi Gras decorations and the like when you can borrow or rent them. If your gang likes to celebrate Fat Tuesday every year, each person involved might invest in the necessary items and loan them to that year’s host. If you’re throwing a big bash, consider renting dishes, glasses, etc., instead of buying.

3. Decorating Inexpensively
Dollar stores are the recession’s go-to place for holiday decorations; so much so that many now offer items for such off-beat holidays as Mardi Gras. If you have children, you might tap into their youthful creativity and have them create masks and other favors.

4. Coupon It Up
Use coupons to save on everything from food to costumes. If you’re a smartphone addict, you might check out the Coupon Sherpa app, which allows you to access coupons while you’re in the store.

5. Free Invites
Paper invites are a thing of the past, particularly since free and instant evites make RSVPing a snap. You can also use Facebook for a fast and easy way to invite your friends.

6. Tighten the Guest List
It’s easy to let the guest list get out of hand when everyone seems to be looking for a party. If you want to keep the numbers small, avoid broadcast invites and stick to phoning or emailing.

7. Buy In Bulk
If you weren’t able to contain the guest list and need to lay in extra supplies, shop wholesale stores like Costco or Sam’s Club. If you don’t have a membership, ask to borrow a friend’s card.