Olé! The mood of this Cinco de Mayo party is so joyous, you’ll be tempted to call on its vivid colors and festive flavors again and again throughout the year. And why not? Cinco de Mayo originally celebrated Mexico’s victory over the French, so go ahead and parlay this party into a celebration of success—at the office, on the ball field, or come a birthday to celebrate the start of another year. Forgo the shooters, and you’ll have a gleeful setting for a kids’ taco party or a graduation fiesta for the holder of that new diploma. Whatever the reason, rule numero uno is to use bright, bold colors. That’s easily said, and easily done, when you start with the most summery striped piece of cloth you can rustle up at the fabric store. Don’t worry about doing any hemming. This is a sewing-free idea—just fit it on and top with a montage of plates in full-fiesta colors. Toss some pillows on benches to bring in even more color—and entice guests to settle in and stay a while.
Get the party going with Fiesta® Ware plates stacked in fruity flavors, like tangerine, melon, lemon, and lime, with a plaid kitchen towel tucked in between as a napkin. Set a paper cocktail napkin on the top plate to add another burst of color and top that with a vibrant party favor. Finish with Lucite®-handled flatware in a rainbow of primary shades. (Catch it on sale at party or home stores.)
There’s always the limbo, but to strike a real chord, warm up to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Gypsy Kings, or Texas Tornados CDs.
Tequila shooters liven things up, especially when served in waves of sand. Pour colored play sand into wavy stripes in a shallow glass dish and nestle etched-glass shot glasses in the sand. A whitewashed cathedral candle stand makes a Gothic backdrop; its bubble-glass votives in stained-glass hues recall quaint churches in a Mexican town square. Fashion: A gauzy white skirt is the epitome of breezy style, while a textured open-weave top adds waves of color.
Turn extra votive candles into mood-enhancing place cards. Use a cookie cutter to cut colored paper into ovals. Write the guest’s name on the front and punch holes on both sides; thread a ribbon through the holes and around the votive, tying in the back.
A sombrero centerpiece puts dessert on a pedestal. Wrap a cake stand in an extra dishtowel (to match the napkins) and rest a green straw hat on top. Add a colorful plate of mini lime cheesecakes as the crowning touch.
A flowering cactus goes home with each guest. I found these cute ceramic cubes at a craft store and was delighted to find that a mini flowerpot slipped right inside the hole. Spray paint the terra-cotta pots and plant a cactus inside for a takeaway favor
Food and Drinks