On May 5,1862, an outnumbered and poorly armed Mexican militia whupped some major French tush near the city of Puebla. The soldiers ultimately failed to keep the French-backed Emperor Maximilian from the throne, but their victory on Cinco de Mayo is still reason to celebrate. Here are some ideas to get your fiesta on.
Notify guests of the impending festivities by fashioning uniquely Mexicano invites. Buy a set of Loteria Bingo cards, cut them up, and paste their fanciful symbols onto an invitation made by folding a piece of card stock in half. Or snap a quick shot of Junior or Fido wearing a sombrero, order or make your own prints, and let your progeny or pooch become your cover subject. Kids and canines camera shy? The Prints and Photographs Online Catalog at the Library of Congress's Website offers extraordinary, downloadable free images that should fit the bill. Enter keywords such as sombrero, fiesta, and cactus in the search field, and check the "bibliographical information" to ensure that there are no use or publication restrictions. Then download, print, and glue away!
Brightly colored tissue paper flowers are a necessity when it comes to Cinco de Mayo decor. Make your own, or pick up some paper blooms at a party supply store. And don't forget a piñata to add a little "authenticity" to your fiesta. Have your guests take a whack at a bust-able Buritto (little donkey) Pinata, but before you set the celebrants loose with a Wiffle Ball bat, give the doomed donkey one last trip to the trough by filling his belly with a three-pound bag of Dela Rosa Piñata candy mix, $11.95, from MiFiesta.com.
Go to Margaritaville
Any good host knows that the best parties have a well-stocked bar, but the most essential at a Cinco de Mayo fiesta is a perfect margarita. The recipe whipped up by Texas socialite Margaret "Margarita" Sames, for whom some claim the drink was named, is pretty simple. Don't forget to chill glasses by dipping them in cold water and placing, stem side up, in the freezer for about 15 minutes. To get a suitably saline border, rub the glass rim with a lime quarter and lightly dip it in kosher salt. Frozen margarita more your thing? Try this one.
No fiesta is complete without some delicious eats. Our ideal menu includes chips and salsa, some divine guacamole, and an entrée of taco salad or sizzling fajitas. Of course, tamales are always a hit as well. Whatever you choose to make, top off your Cinco de Mayo fete with an assortment of traditional Mexican candy. Select from divinity, praline, pecan chewy, and leche quemada (the non-chocolate Mexican version of fudge), all of which are nut-studded sugar-fests. The Segovia Candy Sampler is $19.95 from TexasRollingPins.com and includes six pieces of each delectable treat.
Of course, not just any music will do. Get guests moving to a Cinco de Mayo beat with some Mariachi musica (we like the Mariachi Folklore de Mexico CD, $5.49 from Amazon.com). Want something everyone can sing to? Find your ideal party soundtrack.
If you're brave enough, end the party with cascarones. According to tradition south of the border, when one of these confetti-filled hollow eggs is gently broken over the head, Lady Fortune is destined to smile on the crackee. Make your own, or order some up from Amols.com. Pass a basket of the ovals among departing friends, and once guests are out the door (i.e., in easy-cleanup territory), let the crowd proceed with good-natured, luck-showering taps.
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