Every 5th of May, parts of Mexico celebrates Cinco de Mayo in remembrance of La Batalla de Puebla, the remarkable victory of 4,000 Mexicans over more than 8,000 French in 1862. Though the two nations are on better terms nowadays, Cinco de Mayo is such a fun and festive celebration that it’s been enthusiastically adopted by its northerly neighbors and is, frankly, the perfect excuse for a party! So let’s get going on planning this fabulous fiesta.
Cinco de Mayo Invitations
When it comes to Cinco de Mayo invitations, we say: make your own! Come up with a great saying to print on the front, like one of these:
“Put a little salsa in your day—come to our Cinco de Mayo party!”
“It’s nacho ordinary party!”
“Come to our casa for margaritas and fajitas.”
“The party’s hot, hot, hot…and it’s here on (date) at (time).”
Green, red and white—the colors of the Mexican flag—dominate during this day of remembrance. Paper Mexican flags, hanging decorations and tissue paper flowers in these colors are perfect. Check out your local dollar store, or shop online for easy Cinco de Mayo party decorations. Or get creative and make your own!
Pick up some inexpensive chili pepper lights and string them around the room for added atmosphere. These can often be had at a steal at dollar shops, WalMart and other discount stores.
Setting the Party Table
Your décor should extend to the party table. Cover this with a colorful disposable tablecloth for easy cleanup later. Choose tableware with Mexican imagery—sombreros, maracas, Mexican flags and chili peppers fit the bill. Look for napkins, plates and cups that match this theme.
As a centerpiece, take a large straw sombrero (decorate your own by painting a plain straw hat pink, yellow and other bright colors) and lay it on the center of the table. Then sprinkle chili peppers along the rim. Toss some confetti around the hat and you have the perfect fiesta centerpiece.
Party Eats and Treats
Go traditional with your party menu. After all, who doesn’t love Mexican food? There’s a couple fiesta recipes here, as well as these ideas:
Hot Hot Hot Tacos
You will need:
- hard (pre-fried) corn tortillas;
- shredded cooked chicken and/or shredded cooked beef;
- chopped jalapeno peppers;
- your favorite cheese, shredded (if desired);
- chili powder and garlic powder to taste
The recipe: Traditional tacos don’t call for cheese, but if that’s your preference, set out a dish and let people self-serve. To prepare the tacos, heat each tortilla in a 300 oven for 10 minutes with a moistened paper towel stuffed into each (this keeps them pliable). While these are heating, add jalapenos to your beef or chicken in a skillet. Add chili powder (go slowly and taste until the desired amount is reached) and garlic powder. Cook only until jalapenos are heated through. Serve each element on a separate dish on your table with spoons so people can self-serve in the quantities they like best.
Salsa Con Queso
You will need:
- one 12-oz. jar of mild or medium chunky salsa;
- 16 oz. processed cheese (such as Velveeta);
- sliced mild jalapeno peppers for garnish;
- sliced black olives for garnish;
- corn chips
The recipe: Cut up cheese into chunks and place in a microwave-safe dish. Microwave on high for 30 seconds at a time, stirring every full minute, until cheese is melted. Add the salsa (no need to heat further) and mix well. Pour the mixture into a decorative party dish and top with a few slices of mild jalapeno and half a palmful of sliced black olives. Serve with corn chips on the side.
For the thirsty reveler, have plenty of yummy drinks on hand. Margaritas, daiquiris (all flavors), imported Mexican beer (cervesa) like Dos Equis, Pacifico and Corona , sangria (with plenty of juicy fruit chunks) and Mexican wines will wet guests’ whistles while they party.
Make sure you also have at least one non-alcoholic beverage available; try a punch of red fruit juice, such as raspberry, with lemon-lime soda, and float orange slices on top for a pretty presentation.
Just for Fun
Whether your party is for children, adults or both, a pinata is an absolute must during your Cinco de Mayo fiesta. A donkey, star or sombrero shape is traditional; fill with lots of pinata favors and candies, blindfold each guest and let him or her take three swings apiece. Be sure to have goody bags ready so guests can catch the favors as they fall.
Don’t forget the balloons. For convenience, rent a helium tank or buy a disposable one. That way, on the morning of the party, you can fill as many balloons as you’d like without having to stuff them into your car in order to get them home.
Music will complete the party atmosphere (check out this rockin’ Mexican party song playlist). Also, check out a couple of my favorite songs near the end of the article here. In no time, you’ll have guests dancing, partying…and having a spicy fiesta to remember!