24 things to do with Mardi Gras beads

We have massive amounts of Mardi Gras beads in our house.

Our apartment is overflowing with Mardi Gras beads. (photo by Carlie Kollath Wells/New in NOLA)

Our apartment is overflowing with Mardi Gras beads. (photo by Carlie Kollath Wells/New in NOLA)

Beads, plush toys, cups, tridents, doubloons, chips, Muses shoe, Nyx purse. You name it, we got it (except for a coconut). But what do we do with the beads now?

We’ve asked our New Orleans friends and searched Pinterest for ideas. Voila – 24 things to do with Mardi Gras beads.

1. Throw them away  

You could throw your stuff away. We’re not a fan of trashing everything we worked so hard to get, but hey, you wouldn’t be the only ones to do it. In same fashion, you can shove everything in your attic or garage.

One of the post-Mardi Gras options for beads and trinkets - throw them away. (photo by Carlie Kollath Wells/New in NOLA)

One of the post-Mardi Gras options for beads and trinkets – throw them away. (photo by Carlie Kollath Wells/New in NOLA)

2. Recycle the beads

We like this option because it quickly removes the clutter from your house. Arc of Greater New Orleans  offers a recycling service for your beads and throws. About Arc:

Buy recycled Mardi Gras beads and throws for less, and do your part to create “green” jobs for people with intellectual disabilities. Join the Arc of GNO and the Sierra Club as we recycle Mardi Gras beads, trinkets, and stuffed animals for the 2013 Carnival Season, and keep them out of the landfills!!

The group sells the beads to krewes. Several places around town have the purple & gold ARC recycling bins. Popular drop-off point – Whole Foods on Magazine Street (Arabella Station store). It’s to the right of the door in the parking area.

We checked it out the other week and it was overflowing with goodies. Muses bags, nice beads and plenty of throws.  For a full list of collection points, call  504-837-5105.

• Full list of 2015 bead drop-off locations in metro New Orleans.

Dirty Coast and Whole Foods partnered with Arc of New Orleans to recycle Mardi Gras beads and throws. (photo by Carlie Kollath Wells/New in NOLA)

Dirty Coast and Whole Foods partnered with Arc of New Orleans to recycle Mardi Gras beads and throws. (photo by Carlie Kollath Wells/New in NOLA)

You can recycle your Mardi Gras beads and trinkets at Whole Foods on Magazine Street and at either Dirty Coast location. These were some of the items dropped off for recycling at Whole Foods. (Photo by Carlie Kollath Wells/New in NOLA)

You can recycle your Mardi Gras beads and trinkets at Whole Foods on Magazine Street. (Photo by Carlie Kollath Wells/New in NOLA)

3. Sell them on eBay.

Some people choose to convert their free Mardi Gras goodies into cash. We checked eBay and found several throws from Muses listed. Really want a Muses shoe? Buy one on eBay.

Some people try to sell their Mardi Gras beads & loot on eBay. (eBay screenshot)

Some people try to sell their Mardi Gras beads & loot on eBay. (eBay screenshot)

Some people try to sell their Mardi Gras beads & loot on eBay. (eBay screenshot)

Some people try to sell their Mardi Gras beads & loot on eBay. (eBay screenshot)

4. Make a bead tree.

Throw your colorful beads onto tree branches. Some people (us!) love the look, while other people don’t. It’s up to you.

You can decorate your trees with beads. After the parades, kids and merrymakers tossed beads into this tree on Magazine Street in New Orleans. (photo by Carlie Kollath Wells/New in NOLA)

You can decorate your trees with beads. After the parades, kids and merrymakers tossed beads into this tree on Magazine Street in New Orleans. (photo by Carlie Kollath Wells/New in NOLA)

You also can make a mini bead tree inside by filling an empty coffee can with foam or sand and sticking a bare branch in the center. Decorate the branch with beads.

image via Pinterest user andreptaylor24

image via Pinterest user andreptaylor24

5. Mail out Mardi Gras care packages.

Mardi Gras care packages are perfect for your out-of-state family and friends. They also are good for your New Orleans friends who have moved away. We filled our boxes with beads, cups, chips, doubloons, plush toys and note. These are good to mail after Mardi Gras, or if you want to store them for a year, you can mail them before Mardi Gras next year.

Mardi Gras care package (photo by Carlie Kollath Wells/New in NOLA)

Mardi Gras care package (photo by Carlie Kollath Wells/New in NOLA)

6. Make magnets.

We love this idea from Pinterest. Remember your Mardi Gras adventures every day with magnets on your fridge. Snip the krewe medallions off the beads and hot glue magnets to the back.

Turn your Mardi Gras beads into fridge magnets. (image via Pinterest user lesleye)

Turn your Mardi Gras beads into fridge magnets. (image via Pinterest user lesleye)

7. Make a Mardi Gras tree.

Start with a foam or cardboard cone and glue beads to it. Change your color scheme to fit the appropriate holiday (green for St. Patrick’s, green/gold/purple for Mardi Gras, red & green for Christmas, etc.)

Convert your beads into a tabletop decoration. (photo via Pinterest user  lesleye)

Convert your beads into a tabletop decoration. (photo via Pinterest user lesleye)

8. Create a Mardi Gras mosaic.

image via @nschilling2006 on Pinterest

image via @nschilling2006 on Pinterest

image via Pinterest user @aleckjames

image via Pinterest user @aleckjames

image via Pinterest user @CarolynStafford

image via Pinterest user @CarolynStafford

9. Make bead garland.

image via pinterest user @jenshoewalk

image via pinterest user @jenshoewalk

10. Make a piece of art for your wall or door. 

image via Pinterest user @erinbresenhuber

image via Pinterest user @erinbresenhuber

image via Pinterest user @mgferguson

image via Pinterest user @mgferguson

image via Pinterest user @lesleye

image via Pinterest user @lesleye

11. Use them in gift-wrapping.

FedEx’s blog has a how-to guide for using Mardi Gras beads to decorate boxes. Read it here.

12. Upcycle them into jewelry.

This version incorporates chains and knotted beads:

This one on Keetsa is made of beads and men’s ties:

13. Give them to house guests.

We keep a Mardi Gras swag bag in our house. It’s full of beads, cups and plush Mardi Gras throws. When out-of-town visitors stay with us, they are welcome to grab some goodies out of the bag. It’s a nice way to get our guests into the New Orleans spirit, plus we get rid of the extra items.

This is our Mardi Gras swag bag - beads, cups, doubloons and other goodies inside a bag from Bacchus. (photo by Carlie Kollath Wells/NewinNOLA.com)

This is our Mardi Gras swag bag – beads, cups, doubloons and other goodies inside a bag from Bacchus. (photo by Carlie Kollath Wells/NewinNOLA.com)

14. Put them in your costume trunk.

Beads always come in handy. You can reuse them for holidays – St. Patrick’s Day, hello?! – and they make good costume accessories for you and for the kiddos.

image via theredballoon.com

image via theredballoon.com

15. Make a nightlight or lamp shades.

Etsy has a few listings for nightlights and lamp shades made out of Mardi Gras beads. Example from SassyCrafter’s shop:

nightlight via SassyCrafter on Etsy

nightlight via SassyCrafter on Etsy

We like color the beads add to this light fixture:

image via Pinterest user @haprice23

image via Pinterest user @haprice23

16. Use them as dog/cat toys.

Our cat likes to play with the plush toys. We’ve seen dogs playing with the throws, too.

image via squidoo.com

image via squidoo.com

17. Make a chandelier.

DollarStoreCrafts.com has instructions for making a chandelier out of beads. Finished product:

Other versions:

image via Pinterest user @audiemeeks

image via Pinterest user @audiemeeks

image via DollarStoreCrafts.com

image via DollarStoreCrafts.com

Here’s the step-by-step instructions for the chandelier.

18. Decorate your chandelier.

Want to jazz up your existing chandelier? Makelyhome.com has instructions for that.

19. Make a wreath.

You can wrap/glue beads around an existing grapevine wreath:

image via Pinterest user @delana_mcCurry

image via Pinterest user @delana_mcCurry

Or you can cover a foam base with beads:

This wreath is for sale on Etsy for $75. It's in @nolabeadart's shop.

This wreath is for sale on Etsy for $75. It’s in @nolabeadart’s shop.

NOLAbeadart on Etsy made the second wreath. The seller has several other Mardi Gras bead crafts for sale. See the store here.

20. Bedazzle lamps, glasses, skirts, napkins, etc.

Jazz up your napkins during Mardi Gras. (image via Pinterest user @Lindalou1130)

Jazz up your napkins during Mardi Gras. (image via Pinterest user @Lindalou1130)

Upcycle a lamp with beads. (image via Pinterest user @divegoddess316)

Upcycle a lamp with beads. (image via Pinterest user @divegoddess316)

Looks like a good skirt for Mardi Gras next year. (image via Pinterest user @newlywedinNOLA)

Looks like a good skirt for Mardi Gras next year. (image via Pinterest user @newlywedinNOLA)

21. Decorate a fence or a staircase.

Don’t let your house/apartment/condo be naked during carnival season. If you have a fence, it needs beads.

The Visual Vamp blog has several other good ideas for Mardi Gras home decor. Check them out.

22. Make bead curtains.

image via Pinterest user @amygarrett74)

image via Pinterest user @amygarrett74)

23. Use them as Christmas decorations and ornaments.

image via Pinterest user bambowen

image via Pinterest user bambowen

24. Join a krewe and throw them to paradegoers next year.

Hail #bacchus! #mardigras #nola

A post shared by New In NOLA (@newinnola) on

We’ve pinned several more ideas and examples on Pinterest. Check them out.

(This post originally was published March 18, 2013. It was updated March 3, 2014.)

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11 thoughts on “24 things to do with Mardi Gras beads

  1. LM Smith says:

    I’m looking for info where I saw a craft using madea gras beads ,baked the beads into a lamp shade.,Has anyone saw that.?

  2. Pingback: New in NOLA’s most popular newcomer advice for 2013 | New in NOLA

  3. Pingback: Repurposing Your Mardi Gras Beads

  4. Pingback: Where to recycle Mardi Gras beads in New Orleans | New in NOLA

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