Five Ways to Use All Those Mardi Gras Beads

Five Ways to Use All Those Mardi Gras Beads

Ah, the parades are over, the kids are still home on Mardi Gras break, your feet and head ache, and the beads … the beads have taken over!

Here are five ways to use all of those beads, instead of throwing them away or shoving them under your children’s beds until next year!

1. Get Rid of Them

Donate Them :: Arc of Greater New Orleans is “a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization serving people with intellectual disabilities and delays from birth through adulthood in Orleans, Jefferson, St. Bernard, Plaquemines and St. Tammany parishes.” Arc’s Recycling Center employs people with disabilities year round in its effort to collect, sort, and resell beads to riders. Want to donate your beads (or other throws)? Check their website here to see where you can find their signature purple donation bins.

Another worthy donation recipient is St. Michael’s Special School’s JOY Activity Center. The center employs many of the school’s graduates and counts the collection, sorting, and resell of beads among the many activities their employees assist with throughout the year. For information on donating beads, call the school office at (504) 524-7285.

Give Them to Riders :: You probably know someone who rides! Buying throws can be pricey, so many riders will happily store your stuff for their next ride!

Give Them to Tourists :: While you’re on the parade route, or in the couple of days following Mardi Gras, keep an eye out for enthusiastic tourists who may see your trash as once-in-a-lifetime treasure!

Mail Them to Out-of-Town Friends and Family :: Every year, I have requests for beads, throws, king cakes, and other signature NOLA items. I love to put together “Mardi Gras in a Box” care packages to send to friends and family. But don’t stop there! Sending your niece a Valentine’s Day present or cousin a birthday gift? Toss in a few beads!

Image from Sew In Love

2. Turn Them Into Crafts

One trip through Pinterest will send your head spinning with ideas on how to use your beads in craft projects. Here are a few of my favorites!

Mardi Gras Calming Jar 
Mardi Gras Statement Necklace
Mardi Gras Bead Wreath 
Mardi Gras Bead Cones 
Fill Clear Ornaments With Beads
Shoebox Floats

3. Incorporate Them Into Home Decor

This is for your Level 10 Expert crafter/maker, but there are folks out there who have turned beads into furniture and other amazing home decor pieces. If you’re that type, check these out!

Beaded Chandelier
Cover an Old Table in Beads 
Beaded Chair

4. Transition Them Into Other Holidays

Sort your beads by color and use them to decorate for other holidays (red and pink for Valentine’s Day, green and gold for St. Patrick’s Day, black and orange for Halloween, etc). You can rethink some of the crafts from #2 using different colors or just use them as table scatter or to fill the base of a floral arrangement.

5. Keep Them

I know, I know. This is what you’re trying to avoid, but hear me out. Every time I purge all of our beads, we end up needing them for a school parade, a craft project, or a costume. So, assuming you have the space, stash a small bag of beads away somewhere. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself at Party City overpaying for beads you threw away next King’s Day.

Some throws (like swords, wings, sunglasses, and boas) can also make neat additions to the kids’ toy box or dress-up closet, while nicer beads can double as kids’ costume jewelry.

What do you plan to do with your leftover Mardi Gras beads? Tell me in the comments!


  1. Please know that these beads have been proven to contain high amounts of lead and toxic chemicals that make them very dangerous for children. You can look up any number of articles about this. We do not use them in yhe preschool where I teach anymore. It’s a shame that they aren’t regulated since they aren’t “toys” but children constantly put t hem in their mouths.

  2. My friends and I are excited about the Mardi Gras party for next year, and what we’re anticipating more are the beautiful beads that they throw. I like how you provided me with ideas on how to use all those Mardi Gras beads once the party is over. I might as well try incorporating them into home decor for that creative craft project. Thanks for that great tip!

  3. My daughter had 2 windows that were 18″x24″. I cut a strand of beads once to make a long strand. Measured off 18″, cut. Cut LOTS of them that length. Took a tension rod, looped a couple of beads over the top of the rod & anchored with hot glue gun. I did beads the entire length of the window. The bead curtains were beautiful with their bright colors, sparkle & shine! Have a Happy Day!!!!


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