Plan a Cinco de Mayo Party

by Erin Sund

Mexican food, music, bright colors and warm May weather; what’s not to love? Cinco de Mayo is the perfect time to throw a fiesta to celebrate Mexico’s rich culture.

Although many people think they’re celebrating Mexican Independence Day (that’s not until September), Cinco de Mayo actually marks the Mexican army’s victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. What is essentially a regional celebration in Puebla, Mexico, has become extremely popular in the US.

Whether you throw a Cinco de Mayo party for the whole neighborhood or just want to make a traditional dish for dinner, these tips will help you celebrate in style. Follow one of these five Cinco de Mayo party tips for una pequena fiesta, or combine them all for una gran fiesta.

Set a Festive Scene

Decorating for a Cinco de Mayo party is all about using bright, bold colors. Here’s how set a celebratory atmosphere in your home and yard:

  • Tie red, green and white ribbons or streamers (the colors of the Mexican flag) in bows around chair backs, from hanging lamps or draped across windows.
  • Feature a bouquet of bright daisies as a centerpiece, or have your kids create vibrant faux flowers with tissue paper and pipe cleaners.
  • Decorate colorful flashcards with Spanish words on one side and English translations on the other. Hang them around your home or yard for guests to discover.
  • Buy authentic papel picado (intricate Mexican cut paper decorations) and string them across windows for a dramatic effect.
  • If you’re hosting an evening party, string multicolored lights across a fence or through trees or bushes. Set votives in different hues on tables where they can’t be knocked over.

Make a Piñata

Kids love making (and breaking!) pinatas. Here’s an easy step-by-step guide to make a piñata for your Cinco de Mayo party.

cinco de mayo partyTune In to Mariachi Music

Mariachi music is festive traditional Mexican music played by an ensemble that includes trumpets, guitars, an accordion, bass and vocals. Play a CD of Mariachi music or download some tunes online. You’ll enjoy this lively music long after Cinco de Mayo passes.

Cook Up Traditional Treats

Whip up a classic version of guacamole, or jazz it up by adding a couple handfuls of black beans, corn kernels or pomegranate seeds. Serve the guacamole with sturdy corn tortilla chips, or with cut carrots, jicama, green bell peppers and radishes. The veggies’ bright colors create a festive tablescape for your Cinco de Mayo party.

If you’re serving dinner for a crowd, try these recipes:

  • Make a rich, delicious mole to pour over baked chicken or enchiladas.
  • Make a grilled corn salsa to serve with chips or as a topping on tacos, or try this chunky tomato salsa.
  • Try this recipe for an easy tamale pie.
  • Treat yourself to fresh Mexican corn soup.
  • For dessert, make a decadent tres leches cake.

Hydrate Yourself

Treat yourself to Jarritos Mexican soda or to horchata, a fragrant, delicious rice beverage flavored with cinnamon and vanilla (perfect for cutting the heat of spicy food). Offer adults a variety of Mexican beers served with lime wedges.

And of course, there’s the classic margarita. Here’s how to make a margarita that doesn’t rely on sugar-heavy store mixes. If you’re more adventurous, try making a blackberry or pomegranate margarita (Just remember to drink responsibly.)

Erin Sund is an editor for Manage My Life. She’s still perfecting her pico de gallo and guacamole recipes.
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