Cinco de Mayo is quickly becoming one of the most popular holidays in the United States, particularly in the Southwest, as well as a Mexican holiday celebrated mostly in the Puebla region of the country. In the U.S., however, we tend to celebrate it a little differently. Our fiestas tend to be more centered on friendly, family get-togethers on warm outdoor patios complete with plentiful food, drink, and fun. Are you looking to make an amazing impression at your Cinco de Mayo fiesta this year? These 5 tips should help you get started on your way to throwing the best Cinco de Mayo party on your block!
1. Make Your Place Settings Count!
Nothing brings your fiesta feast table together quite like gorgeous color schemes and vibrant place settings. Truly, this is the area where your Cinco de Mayo design aesthetic is “made” or “broken.” So go all out!
You can find brilliant Mexican table runners made with fine, textured fabrics for little expense on Amazon.com. Also, be sure to check out serape blankets and vibrant table runners in hues like pink, orange, green, yellow, red, and white. The more colorful, the better! Cinco de Mayo decorations are all about pizzazz, razzmatazz, and all that jazz! So mix and match, and let your colors jarabe!
Try to find brightly-colored ceramic plateware and matching woven wicker coasters, complemented by bright, textured napkin cloths. The more vivid colors you have, the more personality it will bring to your celebration!
2. Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with Spectacular Spring Flowers!
Nothing says “celebration” like vibrant, explosively-colored flowers. And no Cinco de Mayo celebration can truly be called complete without an elegant floral centerpiece! Choose flower hues that are brightly-colored with vibrant tones like vivid purples, oranges, and yellows. You might also choose flowers in the colors fo the Mexican flag: red, white, and green. Zinnias, Gerbera Daisies, and China Asters are all exceptional choices, but if you want a more authentic “South of the Border” touch, keep an eye out for Dahlias, Nasturtiums, Begonias, and Salvias as well. Dahlias are the national flower of Mexico and look gorgeous on your patio table!
3. Ditch the Margarita; Stand Out with a Paloma!
“Ditch the margarita? Heresy!” you cry out. There’s nothing wrong with margaritas, and obviously if you love them you should have them at your Cinco de Mayo fiesta. But if you want a drink that’s festive but also a little more unique, give the humble Paloma a try. These adult beverages are light, crisp, and bubbly, for an immensely satisfying and refreshing taste that will leave your guests’ tastebuds craving more. This is how you throw these tasty drinks together:
- Step 1: Rim a highball glass with coarse salt, as you would a margarita, and garnish with lime. Fill the glass quarter-up with ice.
- Step 2: shake 1 teaspoon of lime juice with 1 ounce of premium platinum tequila. Splash these contents into your glass.
- Step 3: fill the remainder with Mexican grapefruit soda (Jarritos is classic, though perhaps a bit sweet – ask your local grocer for a drier soda, if desired).
- Step 4: for bonus points, cut a lime in half, core it, and float the lime in the Paloma. Fill the empty cored lime with another shot of a different kind of tequila (we recommend reposado).
- Step 5: Serve, sip, savor, and celebrate!
4. Make your fiesta food fresher with homemade roasted tomato salsa!
Image via Delish-Blog
At this point, Cinco de Mayo seems to basically exist to benefit the Frito-Lay corporation. You will not go to a single Cinco de Mayo party, barbecue, or park fiesta and NOT find the ubiquitous chips and salsa plate. It’s as if, without chips and salsa, a Cinco de Mayo party would just be… well, not a Cinco de Mayo party. So how do you set your chips and salsa apart from the rest? Try making your own! it will not only taste fresher than the stuff from a jar, but you’ll be able to wow your friends with your own great home cooking. Here’s how t make it:
- Step 1: Chop up about 8 or 9 plum tomatoes into small, 1/2 inch pieces. Quarter a large white onion. Procure 3 or 4 jalapeno peppers, as well as 3 cloves of garlic.
- Step 2: Throw all those ingredients into a small roasting pan, lined with aluminum foil, and toss into the oven on “Broil.” Add salt to taste; coarse salt is a must, sea salt is ideal. Broil this plate until the tomatoes are charred, around eight minutes. For smokier salsa, broil for longer.
- Step 3: peel the now-roasted garlic cloves and pluck the stems from your roasted jalapenos. Throw all of the contents of your roasting plate into a blender and puree until you achieve a smooth consistency.
- Step 4: if yo desire a thinner consistency, you may add water to your blend. But this is not necessary. That’s it! you now have some fantastic homemade roasted-tomato salsa that will amaze your friends and family! Bonus points if you make your own tortilla chips (just cut corn tortillas into wedges and pan-fry them in oil; dry over paper towels and serve).
5. Try your hand at a DIY pinata!
Pinatas are fascinating additions to a Cinco de Mayo fiesta for reasons that are largely… existential. No matter how complex or beautiful your pinata is, it only exists to be broken, revealing its treasures to elated children and adults alike. A mainstay of Cinco de Mayo fiestas in the U.S., few things bring out the joy and fun of the holiday quite like a vibrant pinata. But buying a suitable one might prove no small task, depending on where you live. What to do? Well, why not try to make your own! You can make a pinata that is as simple or as complex as you please. Just follow these simple steps for a basic papier-mache one:
- Step 1: acquire and inflate a balloon. You can shape this balloon however you please with some wrapped cloth around the base, for a more spherical shape, or in the midsection, for a peanut shape.
- Step 2: Cover the balloon in papier-mache paste. To make papier-mache paste, just mix one cup of wheat paste powder with 4 cups of water until consistent. Cover the balloon in a thin layer; you’ll need more paste for the next step.
- Step 3: cut newspaper up into thin strips. Dip each strip thoroughly into your papier-mache paste and then place strips, overlapping each other, around the balloon. Cover the whole balloon and let it dry; once dry, continue to layer strips on top of each other (and let those layers dry) until you are 3 or 4 layers thick.
- Step 4: Cut brightly-colored tissue paper into thin strips. Starting from the bottom of the balloon, glue each strip individually to the dried papier-mache. Work your way up the pinata.
- Step 5: Pop the balloon by making an incision in the top of your pinata; this is your trap door. Make three cuts so you can lift the flap back, then pour candy (or party favor of your choosing) into the trap door. Then, punch a hole in the flap so you can loop some string through it. Make sure you use sufficiently long string to hang the pinata from a branch or other overhang. Presto! You now have a DIY pinata of your very own, perfect for entertaining the kids at your Cinco de Mayo party.
Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone! Enjoy tapping into your creativity, enjoy hosting, stay safe, and have fun!
This post was written by Mike Bowman. He may not be Martha Stewart, but he sure knows how to have fun.