Cinco de Mayo on the Patio

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Step up your fiesta with an authentic flair

Cinco de Mayo is commonly thought of as the holiday to celebrate Mexican independence, but it is actually a celebration of all things Mexican, based on the day Mexican army forces fought back French invaders in a tiny little town called Puebla de los Angeles in 1862. Cinco de Mayo is a time when we can all share in the proud and rich cultural history of our neighbor to the South.

This year, why not look past all the typical party ideas and reach for a true cultural experience?  Here are some solid building blocks to take your Cinco de Mayo party to the next level.

Traditional Mexican cuisine you’ll love

Your outdoor kitchen and bbq fire pit will come in handy. Mexican cuisine offers a tasty foundation of barbecued poultry, meats and vegetables. Look up some easy grilling recipes for favorite dishes like Chicken Enchiladas and Pork Fajitas, but also consider Mexican Street Corn, Carne Asada, or Empanadas with Poblano or Mojo de Ajo sauces. You can also set up a “salsa bar” on your outdoor counter. Hand out small bags of corn chips for guests to dip in a variety of salsas. There’s a whole world of salsa, and it isn’t all made from “tomatoes!”

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Not just margaritas: Some Mexico City street drinks to try

We all know about the connection of Cinco de Mayo with the Margarita, and by all means, have alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions for your guests. By why not introduce them to some traditional Mexican street vendor fare like Papaya Agua Fresca, Horchata, and Licuado de Agua y Piña (pineapple)? These drinks aren’t hard to make and will bring a cultural touch your guests won’t forget.

Decorate with vibrant elements: ¡Flores y colores!

Forget the sombreros and pictures of chili peppers! True Mexican celebration decorations go above and beyond what we are used to in terms of electric color. Think vibrant! You really can’t mess this up. Go big. Mix and match the brightest blooms you can find. Buy various colored plates and accessories. Order or make “papel picado” banners (traditional Mexican party flag banner with cut-out tissue paper in brick shapes). Any brightly-colored tissue paper decorations will do. You can make fringes for the chair backs and hang huge paper flowers from the pergola. Coloring pages and a piñata for the kids are great ideas, too.

Dress up! Cinco de Mayo costumes

We’ll let you pull out a sombrero for this. In Mexico, it’s common for revelers to dress up in costumes that portray the players in the Battle of Puebla. Every year in Puebla there are re-enactments with costumes and traditional music. 1800’s Mexican and French soldier uniforms are popular, as well as traditional historic clothes for women and men. By honoring the true customs of the holiday, you can have fun and pay homage to a great people and culture.