Cinco de Mayo, or the Fifth of May, celebrates the victory of Mexican forces against France at the Battle of Puebla in 1862, during the Franco-Mexican War. Although not widely observed in Mexico, Cinco de Mayo has become a holiday Americans love to celebrate. This year, pull out all of the stops, and host a Cinco de Mayo fiesta for the ages. Here’s how to make it muy perfecto.
Whip Up Some Tasty Food
It’s not a party without a buffet of snacks to choose from, but you don’t need to slave away all day in the kitchen to pull it off. Tacos make a great main dish, and you can toss a boneless pork shoulder into one crock pot and a slew of chicken breasts into another, add some spices, and let your meat cook itself. Chop up some onions, cilantro, and limes, heat up a stack of corn tortillas, and you’re done. For a delicious side, make a spicy black bean salad with jicama, corn, red and yellow peppers, jalapenos, avocado, and tomato. Toss it with a little vinaigrette spiked with a teaspoon of cumin and a quarter teaspoon of cayenne. Skewer pieces of watermelon alternating with mango and kiwi to cool things down, and don’t forget the big bowl of chips ‘n’ salsa.
Pour Some Delicious Drinks
Most of the margarita mixes on the market today are tasty enough to serve to your guests, which precludes the need for a lot of ingredients, which can get messy and complicated. All you need are the mixer, a bottle of quality tequila, margarita salt, and cut-up limes. A colorful umbrella never hurt, either. Since you already have the tequila, get a carton of OJ and a bottle of grenadine, and whip up some Tequila Sunrises, garnished with orange and mango slices. Mexican Mules are another festive party drink, a south-of-the-border version of the Moscow Mule that’s made with tequila instead of vodka. Just pour ginger beer over a shot of tequila in a glass of ice, and garnish with a lime. For those who prefer cerveza to cocktails, have plenty of Corona, Modelo, or Dos Equis on hand. And for those who don’t drink, set out some ice-cold Mexican Cokes or concoct a festive punch with a liter of ginger ale and one can each frozen raspberry lemonade concentrate and frozen limeade concentrate. Garnish with lemons and limes.
Deck Out the Table
A festive table will set the mood for your Cinco de Mayo party, so deck it out with plenty of color. Stuff clay pots or vases with colorful blooms, such as orange and pink marigolds or brightly colored gerbera daisies, or make or buy a bouquet of bright tissue paper flowers for the centerpiece. A colorful Mexican blanket makes a great table runner. Spice up your table decor with bowls red, yellow, and green chiles, or scatter Red Hots, cinnamon gummy bears, or Tabasco Jelly Belly candies across the table for your guests to enjoy. Hang colorful banners, lanterns, or pinatas over the table, and don’t forget to invest in festive paper plates and brightly colored plastic forks for the snacks.
Prepare the Patio
If the weather is nice and the party is going to spill outside, make it memorable with plenty of color and optimal lighting. String up colorful lights or lanterns over your outdoor space to illuminate the area and add an extra layer of coziness to the party. Cover your patio tables with traditional striped Mexican table cloths, and set out clay pots brimming with colorful flowers of the real or paper variety. A few pinatas hanging from the patio or pergola add a decidedly Mexican flair, and they make for some jolly entertainment once everyone’s had a few drinks. Fill them with Mexican candy and trinkets.
Choose a Festive Soundtrack
There’s so much great Mexican music out there, ranging from classical guitar and traditional mariachi music to contemporary tunes with an ethnic flair. Make a playlist for the party using a variety of music to keep things interesting and lively. If you don’t have wireless speakers, invest in some forthwith. They’re not that expensive, and you can pipe music into every room, including the patio, from your phone, tablet, or computer. Consider artists like Selena, Alejandro Escovedo, Santana, Los Moscosos, Nati Cano’s Mariachi Los Comperos, and Brave Combo for your playlist.
Plan Some Games
To keep guests entertained during your Cinco de Mayo party, plan a few party games. A hot chili pepper eating contest will definitely spice up the festivities. Have plenty of latex gloves handy for handling the peppers, and set out glasses of milk for the brave souls who partake. The last person to reach for the milk last to ease the burning wins the contest. A game of Mexican-themed charades can include “person” clues like Selena, Oscar de la Hoya, Frida Kahlo, Guillermo del Toro, and Carlos Santana, along with “place” and “thing clues” such as maracas, pyramids, cilantro, Mexico City, and Isla Mujeres. Mexico trivia is another fun game that’ll test your guests’ knowledge of our southern neighbors. Be sure to have prizes for the winners, such as gift certificates to your favorite local Mexican restaurant or a basket of Mexican treats.
Give Your Home a Mexican Makeover
If your love affair with Mexico isn’t limited to Cinco de Mayo, consider giving your home a Mexican makeover that’ll give all of your Cinco de Mayo parties an air of authenticity. Traditional travertine tiles are cool underfoot, and they harken back to Old Mexico. They’re great for the kitchen and entryway. Travertine is gorgeous on the patio, too, and pattern sets make it easy to get an old-world look for your outdoor space. Aquamarine glass tiles evoke the clear, soothing waters of the Gulf of Mexico and add dazzling beauty your kitchen or bathroom. Colorful rugs, copper details, and furniture with a rustic flair complete the look.
Cinco de Mayo is all about celebration, and the more festive your Cinco de Mayo party, the more memorable it will be. Encourage your guests to dress in bright colors, and don your own Mexico-inspired garb to ensure you’re the host(ess) with the most(ess)..