20 Kid Activities with Mardi Gras Cups

If your family recently moved to New Orleans, welcome! After one season of Mardi Gras, you will soon own the largest collection of “go cups” ever. While you shouldn’t plan to sleep a lot during parade season (yes, you need to let go of nap time), you should expect for glitter to cover your floors and plastic cups to enter your home en masse. Over the years we have put together 22 tips for enjoying Mardi Gras as a beginner, a list of insider tips from the parade route, the 10 king cakes in New Orleans you have to try and even how to make an easy king cake at home with kids. Happy Carnival!

20 Kid Activities with Mardi Gras Cups

Mardi Gras cups, or “go cups,” are a staple in New Orleans kitchens. They are free when caught at a parade, which makes them fabulous, and these wonderful plastic cups have dozens of uses. In college, they serve as our fine china and are required for many drinking games. Not to mention, they are perfect poolside or at the beach because they don’t break. And, it is never a problem if you lose Mardi Gras cups because there is another Mardi Gras season around the corner to restock your supply.

If you are like me, your lifestyle has “adjusted” a bit post kids. The things that you used to use Mardi Gras cups for then and now are not quite the same. However, Mardi Gras cups are still very useful and also still very free. Here are 20 ways that you can use Mardi Gras cups with your children:

  1. Paint cups – buying the larger paint bottles is more cost effective so we use Mardi Gras cups to pour the paint in to so our little one can paint. They rinse clean so it is “greener” then using Solo cups. They also make for a great water cup when your child needs to change colors on the brush.
  2. Shovels – Mardi Gras cups make excellent shovels because they fit well in the hand, but they actually move stuff as opposed to the kid sized shovels. So pack them up to take to the beach or to move mud in the backyard.
  3. Planters – Pick up a pack of seeds from the store, grab mud from the backyard, and you have a kid sized garden. It will be a fun project for the summer to watch the seeds grow and water them each day.
  4. Slushy cups – I can never find all the parts to the homemade freezer pop thing so Mardi Gras cups are a great alternative because you can fit a spoon in them. Put fruit, such as blueberries, in a cup with some apple juice and freeze it. You have a yummy and easy slushy for a hot afternoon.
  5. Toss the penny – Put a few cups on the floor, draw a line, and have you child stand behind it and toss coins into them. Great for hand-eye coordination!
  6. Stack – If you have a toddler, you know they love to make a mess. With your child, turn Mardi Gras cups upside down and stack them like a pyramid. Then let him knock them down. So simple, and it never gets old.
  7. Bug catcher – If you put together a Mardi Gras cup, a bug, plastic wrap, and a rubber band, you have a homemade bug catcher. Plus, all the time your child spends trying to catch the bug will keep them busy.
  8. Bath tub toy – A few Mardi Gras cups and bubbles in the tub can last for at least an hour. Not sure why this is interesting, but it is. Also, in my house, we use a Mardi Gras cup to help wash soap out of my girls’ hair.
  9. Catch Raindrops – Give your child a cup and ask them to fill the cup with raindrops, of course when it is not lightening and thundering. They will have a ball getting wet, jumping in puddles, and trying to fill up that cup.
  10. Crayon holder – You know you will have crayons out this summer. In fact, you may have them out at this second. Save a step of putting them away and just leave a cup full of crayons on the kitchen counter. You will grab it for a quick activity more than you think you will. This is an easy activity for when you are trying to cook as well.
  11. Bowling pins – Line Mardi Gras cups up at the end of the hallway, and give your child a soft ball. Instantly, you have homemade bowling.
  12. Target practice – We have girls, so there are no toy guns in our house. But, that doesn’t mean that we can’t practice. Set up an obstacle course with cups at different levels and use a bean bag to throw and knock them down. If your child is a bit older, this also works with shooting rubber bands.
  13. Move the marble – Hide a marble under one cup and have your child practice the sleight of hand game where you guess which cup the marble is under.
  14. Drums – I know you hate me for saying it, but Mardi Gras cups do make really good drums.
  15. Rice Tambourine – Put rice in the cup, cover the opening with fabric, seal with duct tape, and you have an instrument in an instant.
  16. Telephone – Now your child may not understand this game, because there are no apps on this kind of phone. But, punch a hole in the bottom of two cups and run a string between them and kick it old school.
  17. How many – Fill Mardi Gras cups up with different items around the house (red beans, chocolate chips, jelly beans) and have your child guess how many are in there.
  18. Arts & Crafts – Mardi Gras cups are also easy to decorate. Pull out your arts & crafts bin and let your kid create a master piece. A little glue and some glitter would be great for a rainy afternoon. The best part is that you can use the finished product for Mardi Gras decorations!
  19. Tea party – If you don’t want your child to play with the glass tea set a relative may or may not have given a one year old, then Mardi Gras cups can be the solution. Plus if there are brothers involved, they may go for this style of tea because it is a little less girly than a cup and saucer.
  20. Amplifier – If you put the end of an iPhone in a Mardi Gras cup, you have an instant sound system. This can only mean one thing, dance party!

And, if all else fails you can go back and use a Mardi Gras cup for what you used to. Mardi Gras cups make excellent stemless wine glasses.


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