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!
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!
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!
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.