Feliz Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo sign
Credit: Amazon.com

If you enjoy a good party, you're in luck because the month of May offers plenty of opportunities to invite friends over for a celebration. There's May Day, National Teacher's Day, Mother's Day, Memorial Day and Cinco de Mayo.

Cinco de Mayo (translated means fifth of May) is the celebration of Mexico’s victory over French occupation. Buy you don't have to be Mexican to celebrate the day. Many people in the United States regard Cinco de Mayo as a day to recognize the Mexican heritage.

There are three things absolutely necessary in order to have a good fiesta; good friends, good music, and good food. You take care of the first and I'll give you information on the rest.

Fiesta Centerpiece
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May 5 is NOT Mexican Independence Day

The first thing you must know about Cinco de Mayo is that it is not Mexico's Independence Day. That holiday is celebrated on September 16 (and that's another great day to celebrate).

This holiday is about the French Government's attempt to overthrow the Mexican Government and occupy their land, known as the Battle of Puebla. May 5th is significant to the Mexican people because it represents their victory over the French army on May 5, 1862. "Hasta la victoria" (until the victory always).

This holiday is celebrated throughout Mexico, especially in the City Puebla and it is also celebrated in the United States, specifically in large Mexican populated areas. However, anyone who appreciates freedom and democracy can and should celebrate this historic day. Although it is not Mexican Independence Day it does represent victory.

Mexican Flag
Credit: morguefile.com


It's party time! This year, invite a bunch of friends over to your "casa" for a fiesta to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Get everyone in the mood with fun and festive party signs, decorations, favors, lights and a decorative centerpiece. Make your party one people will be talking about long after the last guest has left. Who knows, your party may inspire others to continue the tradition of celebrating this day of freedom and democracy.

The first thing you must to do is let all your guests know where the party is by using a special sign or cutouts. Make or buy several signs and place them in the front yard, inside the house, and anywhere party guests will be socializing. As your friends arrive, give them all party favors. Hand everyone a mini wooden fiesta maraca and let them make some happy noise.

Use a familiar item for a centerpiece such as a large Mexican hat or sombrero. You can purchase several brightly colored hats made from tissue paper and place them on every table. In addition, the smallest details make the biggest hits. Purchase items like special glasses or straws to complement the theme and showcase your delicious drinks. Lastly, if your party is outside, illuminate the area with fiesta stringed lights. Purchase several and string them throughout the backyard and inside your home.

Sombrero Fiesta Tissue Straws
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(price as of Feb 27, 2016)


Fiesta Decorations
Credit: morguefile.com

Decorations add that extra touch to any event and they are one of the things that make a party memorable. People will remember certain items that catch their eye and they will appreciate a well decorated event. Begin with the colors of Mexico; red, green, and white and add to that. Put up a photo of a Mexican flag and hang colorful streamers across the room or yard. Hang up lights, and for that extra touch, use themed strings of lights. Brightly colored balloons are always a great choice to liven up any party and Cinco de Mayo is no exception. In addition, use a large colorful centerpiece for your table and have themed plates and napkins.

Extra touches include a large piñata filled with candy and treats. You can even have a large cut-out of a Mexican couple where your guests can put their faces in and have their photos taken. Another fun treat would be to give all the guests something fun to put on, like a hat or headdress. Including that extra touch to your party will make it one to remember and one that everyone will enjoy. 

Fiesta Light Set Party Accessory
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(price as of Feb 27, 2016)

Authentic Mexican Food

One of the most important elements to a party is the food. Choose authentic Mexican food to make your Cinco de Mayo party a hit. Serve one or more of the following dishs; Albóndigas (Mexican meatball soup), Arroz con camarones, Arroz con pollo, Barbacoa, Carne asada (grilled beef), Chilaquiles, Chile relleno, Empanadas, Enchilada (red or green), Flautas, Gorditas, Menudo, Mole, Pozole, Quesadillas, Tacos, Tamales, Tortillas, and Tostadas.

Don't forget dessert, you can serve any of the following Mexican treats; Arroz con leche, Buñuelos, Churros, Dulce de leche, Empanadas, Flan, Pastel de queso (cheesecake), or Pastel de tres leches (three milk cake).

If you don't know how to make any of these Mexican dishes, don't worry, you can have your event catered or you can pick-up a Mexican cook book. Most of these dishes are easy and some will take a little practice, but the taste is worth it. Also, the next time you eat out at your favorite Mexican restaurant ask if they provide catering services and choose all your favorite dishes to serve at your party.

One last thing, don't forget the chips, salsa, and guacamole. This is a staple for any Mexican celebration and a favorite party snack. Have plenty of large bowls of chips with smaller containers of salsa and guacamole on every table and refill them often.

Mexican Cooking

Mesa Mexicana

Mesa Mexicana
Amazon Price: $21.95 $12.46 Buy Now
(price as of Feb 27, 2016)
This is at the top of my Mexican cookbook list. I enjoy making and serving several of the recipes, especially the salsa, it is delicious! The cookbook authors are well known chefs and restaurant owners, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger. Together they have created what I believe to be one of the best cookbooks on Mexican cuisine. Mesa Mexicana (translates to Mexican table) provides pages and pages of easy to follow recipes for flavorful Mexican food. Dishes include salads, grilled meats, fish, tacos, salsas, vegetable meals, desserts, and beverages. Mesa Mexicana is a must have for any Cinco de Mayo party and for any kitchen.

Celebrate with Music

A party just isn't a party without good music. Play Mexican music when your guests arrive to get them in the mood.  After dinner, play some fast paced music to get people out on the dance floor.  Playing good music will put people in the mood to dance and have a good time. For a nice variety, you can play a mixture of your favorite music and Mexican music.

Play some games using music. Lineup some chairs and play a fun game of musical chairs or play music while guests take turns hitting a piñata. For those of you who are quite familiar with Latin songs, bring out the karaoke machine and let everyone take a turn singing their favorite tune.

Whatever you do, make sure to have plenty of music ready to play. On a personal note, one of my favorite Latin artists is Alejandro Sanz, although Sanz is not Mexican (he is from Spain) his music is non-the-less perfect for a Mexican celebration because he stands for freedom and his music is so darn good. Other favorites include Celia Cruz, known as the "Queen of Latin Music" she is well known in the Latin community. Her music is vibrant and catchy. It will have everyone up and dancing. Also, try music from Latin artist Juanes, his songs will make people want to get up and dance.

Exitos Eternos
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Find More Information Here

For more information on making your event special, take a look at the following articles;


Alejandro Sanz: Spain's Superstar Musician


Tips for Planning a Memorable Party


Unusual Ideas for Your Next Party