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Opinion Seize the Season on a Budget

Seize the Season on a Budget

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Mardi Gras season is upon us. This means it’s time to either bring out your most elegant formal gown or it’s time to run off to the nearest shop to rent your tails and let the good times roll.  And then you think about it and ask yourself, “How am I going to afford all of this?”

Mardi Gras can get pretty expensive when you add it all up. From hotel rooms to the cost of tickets to finding the right thing to wear, you can dig yourself a mighty big hole.

But have no worries, I am here to lend you some tips and ideas on how to save some cash but still enjoy your Mardi Gras festivities.


For my ladies out there, finding the perfect dress for a ball can be a daunting task. If you’re like me, you have worn your prom dress from high school to any and every formal occasion you have attended in the past year.

Not only is it out-dated, but it’s a little snug in the hips and needs to take a long vacation at the dry cleaners. But that doesn’t mean that one of your more fashion-forward friends doesn’t have an elegant gown in their closet just waiting for you to take for a spin. 

The first step to saving money on a gown is to ask your friends. Girls usually wear a formal dress once or twice and then stow it away in our closets never to be seen again; so your best friend shouldn’t mind you borrowing hers for the night. 

If you cannot gather a dress that way, try Rent the Runway. On this website, you can pick from countless designer gowns and choose prices from $60 to $500. The company sends you two sizes for the price of one; and on your first purchase, you receive $25 off.


For my gentlemen out there, Mardi Gras events are the best events to take a girl on a date. Every ball I have attended in Mobile has an open bar and food of all varieties. All you have to do for the date is find a nice coat with tails.  Do some price shopping and you’ll be able to find the cheapest in town.

My boyfriend went to a smaller city and was able to rent his for $130 for two weeks. Some of the more popular venues rent for $60 a night and are very strict on their return policy. So ask or call around and you’ll find a deal.

One of the biggest struggles, even if you aren’t attending a ball, is finding a place to stay when traveling to Mobile, New Orleans or the coast during the Mardi Gras season. If you want to stay in a hotel, book early.  The rooms fill up fast and they get more expensive the longer you wait. 

Also, you could choose to rent from a hotel 20 minutes or so from the big events and will probably find a cheaper price. Before you book a room, think about where you are located. 

Hattiesburg is called the Hub City for a reason. I am sure you have more than one friend from the Mardi Gras areas. Ask if you can crash for the night or ask them where are the cheapest places to stay. If all else fails, designate a driver, promise him or her a few drinks the next time you hit up Brewsky’s, and drive the two hours back to Hattiesburg after the night is over.


Lastly, if you are looking to have the cheapest Mardi Gras of all, skip the balls and just head to the streets and attend the parades.  They are super fun and you get free stuff thrown at you from left and right.  Not to mention, the corn dogs from the food trucks are the best things I have ever eaten in my entire life.

Mardi Gras is a time of fun and giving thanks before the Lenten season begins.  Don’t let money or the glitz and glam keep you from having the time of your life.

Mary Sergeant
Writer and Photographer for the Student Printz at the University of Southern Mississippi

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