What to Use to Spice Up Your Celebration
Throwing a Cinco de Mayo party isn’t just for Hispanics. Many gringos love this holiday too. I try to show them the “real” way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo by hosting my party with authentic Mexican food, music, and decor.
Cinco de Mayo History
Contrary to popular belief in the US, Cinco de Mayo has nothing to do with Mexican Independence Day, which is actually September 16. The real Cinco de Mayo history revolves around an amazing Mexican victory over France at the Battle of Puebla, which took place in 1862 on-you guessed it-May 5.
In the 1980s Cinco de Mayo started becoming very commercialized, thanks to advertising stunts by US companies like Coors Brewing Company. Ever since then, we have struggled a little bit to get Americans to remember the real meaning of Cinco de Mayo.
5 Must-Have Cinco de Mayo Decorations
When decorating for your Cinco de Mayo party, don’t forget to have plenty of authentic Mexican decorations on hand. Try some of these most popular Cinco de Mayo decorations:
Mini Sombreros — The traditional charro costume of the Mexican mariachis always includes a fancy sombrero. While you may not have a real sombrero, you can easily get a whole bunch of painted or embroidered mini sombreros to use as part of your decor.
Serapes — In addition to bringing to mind the traditional ponchos many Mexicans wear in different parts of Mexico, serapes or sarapes are a great way to incorporate the bright colors of Cinco de Mayo to your party.
Mexican Guitars — You should definitely listen to authentic ranchera or mariachi music at your Cinco de Mayo celebration. Mini Mexican guitars complement the music and they’re also fun for guests to play with.
Luminarias — As your party stretches into the evening, you’ll want to have some traditional Mexican lighting. Luminarias are basically punched tin or clay candleholders that give your party a bit of a glow and cast cool, star-like light patterns around the room. These are my favorite piece of Mexican decor because they are romantic and inviting.
Mexican Flag — You definitely want to have some type of decoration with the Mexican Flag on it. If you don’t have a real flag, consider buying a pack of paper or plastic flags that you can string up as a banner. This will help guests remember the true meaning of Cinco de Mayo.
Decorating for Cinco de Mayo – Ideas
So you have ordered all your authentic Cinco de Mayo decorations from a Mexican party supplier. Now what do you do with them? Here are some ideas for working Mexican items into your Cinco de Mayo decor.
Set up Your Table – Buffet-style dining works best for Cinco de Mayo parties. Decorate your table with a yellow, red, green, or purple tablecloth and a long, skinny Mexican serape as a table runner. Serve the guacamole in the traditional Mexican molcajete, and the tortillas in a colorful tortilla basket.
Plates, Cups, and Drinks – If you like, you can get paper plates and cups with Cinco de Mayo designs printed on them, or just a mix of plates and cups in bold colors that match your party colors.
Provide your guests with mini serapes to use as coasters. Mini sombreros make great beer bottle toppers-they keep bugs out of the bottles at outside parties and if you write the guest’s name on the mini sombrero they will also get a fun keepsake from your party.
Decorative Touches – Set up luminarias and red, yellow, or green candles around the room. Also include little Mexican folk art touches like painted clay figurines, marionettes, or miniature clay jugs.
If you have room on your buffet table for a centerpiece, consider working in traditional Mexican foods like a bunch of brightly colored chili peppers or nopales surrounding a candle or a cactus. This is how you see these foods displayed in outdoor markets in Mexico.
Party Favors – Guests love little mementos of your party. I like to give ach guest a mini cactus, preferably in a tiny, brightly painted Mexican pot. You could also give a figurine, mini sombrero, mini serape, or pretty much any little item that will remind them of Cinco de Mayo.
As you can see decorating for Cinco de Mayo doesn’t have to be an arduous job. I would love for you to share your pictures of your Mexican 5 de Mayo celebration. Feel free to post them on Hispanic Culture Online’s Facebook page.