Today is officially Mardi Gras, but at midnight, the quiet settles in and the revelry ceases. Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, where we officially begin the Lenten season, a time for sacrifice and reflection in the local religious culture. If you stroll the parade routes the day after, you’ll notice strings of beads hanging here and there, some from tree limbs, others on electrical lines. The party is over.
If you’ve taken part in the festivities, you may have a collection of stuffed toys, heavy bags of beads, and even a half eaten king cake laying around on your kitchen counter. I know at my house, there’s a mask hanging on the edge of a counter stool and a sequined top hat sitting on the coffee table. So what do you do with all of this “stuff” cluttering up your home? Here are a few ideas to put the emphasis on the green of the canival colors of purple, gold, and green:
The King Cake – Do you have leftover king cake sitting on your counter? If you just aren’t up for a baking challenge at the moment, wrap up your king cake and freeze it until you are ready for an amazing dessert. If you have a sweet tooth now, consider making a King Cake bread pudding. My mom makes one that is out of this world and she tops it with a delicious dessert sauce and fresh whipped topping. No need to add the sugar to the recipe, the icing on the king cake does the trick. If you don’t have quite enough to fill a pan, consider adding to it with other day old pastries.
The Stuffed Toys – Consider bringing the clean toys to your local fire station or women’s shelter. Go through them first and make sure there are no tears or dirty spots. Some fire stations keep stuffed toys handy for emergency calls involving younger patients or fire victims. Women’s shelters not only house women who are seeking a haven from domestic abuse, but many of these women show up with small children. Check with either of these options in your local area before dropping off. Also, teachers in lower grades have treasure or prize boxes and may be able to add these stuffed toys to their treasure chest for students.
The Costumes – Unless you’re saving your costume for Halloween, think about cleaning and donating them to a local school’s drama club or to your area playhouse. The costumes may come in handy for their next play.
The Beads – Those little plastic beads aren’t cheap, so think twice before throwing them away. You can donate the beads to the same teachers that have treasure chests, or do something even more meaningful – give them to charity. That’s right, there are many groups who collect leftover Mardi Gras beads to sort and then resell the next season for charitable causes. If you’re crafty, keep some of the beads to the side and decorate something fun and festive with these colorful beads.
What do you do with your remnants of Mardi Gras?