Mardi Gras House Float

4 Materials
2 Hours

Laissez le bon temps rouler! It's the Carnival season, and we can't congregate to celebrate. But we can decorate our homes.

In New Orleans, someone came up with the brilliant idea of adding design elements to make her house look like a parade float. Other neighbors joined in, and a movement has been born. The Krewe of House Floats page on FB lists resources (some are hiring unemployed artists to create their decorations) and ideas.

Another page, Krewe of House Floats - Expats, features installations around the world.

As this is my favorite holiday ... and since I have loads of appropriate items saved from my church's now-defunct MG party, I decided to jump right in.

A little background: I'm a brass band musician living in Michigan, and I love Mardi Gras. It's a season that starts January 6 and ends the day before Ash Wednesday. Great music, wonderful food, the entire time frame is about getting together with friends and having fun. No pressure to buy or exchange gifts. In New Orleans it's a family-friendly holiday, and you'll see folks dressed up like a group of, say, bumblebees, or fish. Satire abounds.

Some hints: the MG color scheme is purple, green, and gold. Several other holidays use at least one of those colorways, so look through your Halloween stuff for purple, and St Patrick's displays for the others. Any dollar store will have stuff that's one or another of these colors.

NOLA costumers love to recycle and repurpose everything. It can still look like a Katrina blue tarp, but it's now trimmed and worn as a cape.

Several home decorators obtained the large plastic balls used in children's ball pits, and painted them, then strung onto twine. You can use the inside of a political campaign sign, a flattened cardboard box, a shower curtain ...

Here's your sign. This is similar to what's placed on a tractor pulling a float.

Two garden flag holders, repurposed to dispense beads and masks. The little sign by the masks: "not for medical use"

Night view

A string of prayer flag-style decorations, wooden sign from a store, shiny ribbon, and BEADS

In New Orleans, more is better, and it's impossible to overdo your styling.

A stop for a selfie. I made this up as I went along. Thankfully the shiny ribbon made it all the way around the porch.

I'm glad I placed so many nails and cup hooks a few years back. This is Michigan and it was a sunny, chilly day.

Rattan snow woman

Front door

Got the band back together!
The musicians are real people!

I found photos of folks I've played with, enlarged them.

Cut a black shower curtain liner into eight panels, and used a white marker to sketch each instrument and player. Cut out silhouettes.

Here's the whole band. I chose friends whose photos showed them from head to foot, preferably walking.

The trombonist is my late brother. :'(

When I finished cutting someone out, I took a photo and shared it to their FB wall. Everyone was very happy to be included! (No one has any Mardi Gras gig this year.)

PVC frame

Measured my porch elements, then designed this on the computer. Picked up six 10' poles, and a pack each of Ts and Ls. Cut everything out in my living room.

It's presently about 15° outside. If I ever do this again, I'll make it happen on the front porch when it's warm out.

Taped many sheets of shiny gift wrap together, then wrapped the frame. Placed the musicians, and used double-stick tape to hold them.

Made it through the front door!

This shows how the frame rests on the porch railing. Everything is secured with duct and packing tape, and I shoved the bottom border down into the snow.

I will find some landscaping stakes to secure it a little better, just in case we get some wind.

one more tweak: beads in the shrubs

Suggested materials:

  • Shiny ribbon   (stash, probably a discount store in NOLA)
  • Flags and banners   (Amazon)
  • Colorful lights   (stash)
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  • MariaTerez MariaTerez on Feb 10, 2021

    You did great!

    I'm from New Orleans and havent been to Mardi Gras in years. My son is a jazz trumpet player ( but plays 6 other instruments as well).

    My family is still in NOLA and send pics each year. My favorite house float this year is the octopus legs coming out of the windows. Fat Tuesday is next week.



  • Maureen Georgetti Maureen Georgetti on Feb 10, 2021

    I love your enthusiasm and creativity! Celebrate!!!