While we can't all be somewhere festive for Mardi Gras, why not channel the indulgent nature of the day (mardi gras is French for "fat tuesday," after all) and plan an impromptu date to celebrate your partner or find a new squeeze amongst the festivities.
Here are some low-cost ideas for celebrating Mardi Gras, which for Catholics is the last day to splurge on food, drink or behavior before the 40 days of Lent begins and rules like meat-free Fridays are observed:
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1. Eat free pancakes! International House of Pancakes is offering free shortstacks of their classic buttermilks to all diners until 8pm. IHOP is asking diners to donate to the Children's Miracle Network instead, in an untypical, non-gluttonous Mardi Gras move.
2. Listen to live jazz. Channel New Orleans with its iconic sounds. If there's not a jazz club in your area, turn off the tube and turn on Pandora's jazz station at home. Your S.O. is sure to enjoy the change of pace. Single? Remember how well dating a jazz musician went for Carrie on Sex and the City?
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3. Make a New Orleans-inspired meal. Jambalaya, beignets, oysters, gumbo, Po'boys and red beans and rice are all Big Easy specialties. Check out recipes on NOLA-native Emeril Lagasse's site.