Even if you're a self-professed procrastinator (it IS May 4th!), it's not too late to plan a fantastico Cinco de Mayo fiesta. Learn how to host a Pinterest worthy party sure to excite your friends and family.
However, keep in mind that before you drink to Mexican independence, it's important to know the origins of Cinco de Mayo and it's place in Mexican heritage:
History of the Holiday
MYTH: Cinco de Mayo celebrates Mexico's independence from Spain.
FACT: Mexican Independence Day is actually celebrated on September 16. Cinco de Mayo commemorates El Dia de la Batalla de Puebla (The Day of the Battle of Puebla).
MYTH: Mexico was only colonized by Spain.
FACT: In the 1860s, France briefly basked in colonial glory. After President Benito Juarez ceased repaying foreign debts, the British, Spanish, and French governments occupied the state of Veracruz in hopes of retrieving the lost loans. While the British and Spanish quickly withdrew, the French army brazenly toppled the Mexican government. In 1864, France installed Maximilian I of Austria as the leader of the new Mexican Empire.
Cinco de Mayo matters because, on May 5, 1862, the amateur and poorly equipped Mexican army successfully defeated the much stronger French army in Puebla. This victory, though seemingly small, boosted Mexican morale for the duration of the Franco-Mexican War (1861-67).
MYTH: Cinco de Mayo is one of Mexico's most important holidays.
FACT: The 5th of May is actually a relatively unimportant holiday in Mexico itself. However, in America, the occasion has evolved into a fantastic celebration of Mexican-American culture and pride. Cinco de Mayo is so popular today because, in the 1960s, Chican@ activists promoted the holiday as a victory of indigenous Mexicans over European colonizers.
Now that you've been briefed in Mexican history, let's move on to the fun stuff. Learn how to host a last minute Cinco de Mayo Fiesta that's both fun and culturally appropriate!
Where to Host
If you're reading this on May 4, you're probably planning to host the fiesta in your home or backyard. No problem!
- Colorful Lanterns: Whether indoors or outdoors, set the mood with some fiesta lanterns. Grab a set of 6 at your local Party City.
- Geometric Fiesta Garland: Ditch tacky party store garlands in favor of updated and trendy décor that'll wow your guests. This DIY garland is super easy to make and only requires scissors, colored tissue paper, and a creative mind!
- Cerveza Centerpiece: Arrange some bright flowers in painted beer bottles and use them as centerpieces. The bottles must be Mexican beer (like Coronas), of course!
- DIY Piñata: Swinging away at a candy-filled piñata is an instant #throwback to childhood birthday parties. Although, this DIY mini cactus piñata is almost too cute to destroy...
- Photo Booth: Everyone loves taking pictures of themselves! Hang a festive tapestry on an empty wall and set a bunch of Cinco de Mayo themed props on a nearby table. Set up a camera/tripod with an auto-timer or use the Macbook photo booth feature, and let the selfies begin!
- Karaoke: Bring the joy of song straight to your living room. Download a Karoake app, plug into your TV, and sing some of your favorite Spanish hits and telenovela theme songs.
- Taco Bar: Let guests craft a taco to their taste with a taco bar. Just provide a wide selection of meats, cheeses, and veggies.
- Spicy Guacamole: You can never go wrong with some chips and guac, especially if it's homemade.
- Mexican Street Corn: AKA Elotes. Basically corn doused in garlic mayonnaise and flavored with cheese, chili powder, and cilantro. They're heavenly.
- Churro Bites: Churros were invented centuries ago by Spanish nomads who, desiring the taste of fresh baked goods only available in the cities, invented a cake-like staple they could cook in a pan over an open fire. Churro making is a refined skill, passed on from parent to child, and churros are now perhaps the most popular dessert in the Latin American world.
- Tres Leches: Showcase your knowledge of traditional Mexican desserts by baking a dense, moist, and delicious "three-milk" cake. Evaporated and condensed milk recipes are beloved in Latin America and are indigenous to the region. Save this cake for special events!
- Cactus Cupcakes: Placing decorated cupcakes into little succulent pots is genius. Try your hand at decorating with icing.
- Pinata Cookies: These flamboyant cuties have hollow centers filled with candy. How cute!
- Mango Jalapeno Margarita: Spice up the fiesta even more with this tangy and unique cocktail.
- Cactus Pear Margarita: The color of this drink is just stunning! If you've been too intimidated to taste cactus pear before, now's your chance.
- Classic Limeade Margarita: Because getting tequila drunk is the best kind of drunk.
Try not to use Mexican culture as an excuse to get totally wasted. Instead, appreciate the historical and cultural significance of the holiday and toast to that. :)
Culturally Appropriate Costumes
- Colorful Dresses: Wear a unicolor dress that's more flamboyant in color than your margarita.
- Embroidered Accents: Pre-Hispanic embroidery is native to Oaxaca. It was traditionally designed with the tip of agave or maguey leaves. Embroidered accents are imbued with symbolic meaning, reflecting dreams, life stories, and natural wonders.
- Mercado Dress: Inspired by the traditional street dresses of indigenous peasants, a Mercado dress is a tasteful nod to Mexican culture.
Buena suerte with your Cinco de Mayo fiesta!
and don't forget to...