Fiesta sombrero
Mexican flag balloon Cinco De Mayo decoration
Cinco De Mayo "Fiesta" Party
How to have a Cinco De Mayo Fiesta with kids

Kids can enjoy a soiree the Mexican way with a "Fiesta" on the fifth of May or any day!
Say "Adios" to burgers and balloons, and say "Hola" to salsa and sombreros, piñatas
and ponchos! This is a Mexican inspired journey for your little Margarita or Miquel that's
filled with maracas, mariachi music, and a Mexican buffet. Aye Carumba! The kids will
love a Mexican birthday fiesta or Cinco De Mayo party, and here's how to add just the
right amount of sizzle:

  • Grab a sombrero and your maracas and get ready to rumba! As kids arrive to the
    party, welcome them with an "Hola," then top them with a sombrero and hand
    them some maracas for instant merriment. You might also offer use of a mini-
    guitar to allow kids to form a makeshift mariachi band. This mariachi magic will
    surely inspire some flamenco dancing, particularly with adult encouragement.

  • Make your own Mexican serape or poncho. Your Mexican inspired attire starts with
    a bold, striped material you find at the fabric store. For a serape, or blanket, cut
    long strips so that the pattern is horizontal, then cut fringe. Wear the serape or
    drape it as a table runner. For a poncho, or vest, simply cut it into a large
    square, then cut a circle in the center for an easy costume. If you can crochet,
    try these easy crochet poncho patterns.

  • Fold a faux floral arrangement. Blooming in the Mexican tradition, the paper
    flowers, left, will provide a festive accent to your fiesta party decor. While many
    artisans in Mexico use corn husks that they've painted in bold colors, you can
    make them yourself from tissue paper and chenille (pipe cleaners) in a few
    simple steps. Here's an easy video on how to make a Mexican paper flower.

  • String them along. If you have a few balls of yarn and can glue together two
    Popsicle sticks into a cross, then you've got the potential and makings of
    Mexican folk art.  These ornamental crosses called "Ojos de Dios," which
    translates to "Eyes of god," help ward off evil spirits.  This stick weaving craft
    made a revival in the '70s with the hippy generation. Make your own revival for
    the party. Start with colored sticks, right, and follow the Popsicle-stick craft
    instructions.

Fiesta Party Invitations:
"Feliz cumpleaños" is the way to say "Happy Birthday" in Spanish and that's just what
you'll have for the birthday kid when you get going on the invitations for your fiesta
party. Here are some fun ideas to help make the memories last:

  • Is the party for your little "Chiclet"? Then send edible confetti! Include a pack of
    Tiny Size Chiclets in the envelope along with the message: "Our little Chiclet is
    turning five." Chiclets are a Mexican favorite

  • Design a card with a fringe motif like piñata. Start with bright  and bold single-fold
    cards (yellow is a terrific option). Find crepe paper streamers in two or three
    contrasting colors, such as hot pink, lime green or blue. Cut crepe paper
    lengthwise in half, then cut fringe and arrange in rows to glue on the card. Use
    rubber stamps for your message.

  • Here are some Invitations and party wording ideas:
  • Ole'! Zoey is turning five, so save your siesta, until after the fiesta!
  • Pin your tail on the donkey and join us Saturday, May 15 at noon
  • Casa de Smith at 123 Main Street
  • RSVP: Señorita Sally at 867-5309

Fiesta Party Decoration Ideas
To help transport a South of the Border feel,  cloak the entire family in colorful ponchos,
and colorful embroidered apparel.  Assemble straw sombreros and hang them on
chairs. Here are more ways to create a festive fiesta...

Make  merry with Mexican paper cutting. In the Mexican tradition, try "Papel picado," the
art of cutting tissue paper into lacy and elaborate designs.  Traditional Mexican
artisans use special hammers and paper punches on tissue papers, but you can use
scissors, and craft punches to create your own elaborate designs. Stringing them into
banners provides an instant Mexican vibe. Making Magic Windows, left, a book by
Carmen Lomas Garza, provides instruction for papel picado that's easy enough for a
novice, yet produces grand results that will surely impress your guests. If you can
make paper snowflakes, you can make papel picado banderitas and banners.  Why not
involve the birthday child in advance of the party? Then you'll both be expert
instructors for this party activity.

  • Don't duck out of the cute favor ideas. This is a children's party, so float the
    adorable sombrero rubber duckies, left, in a kiddies pool. This decoration idea
    does double duty as a party favor and game and here's how: number each
    ducky with a Sharpie pen, float them in the pool, then have kids take turns
    fishing out a duck they can redeem for a corresponding prize.

  • Head South of the Border with a few spicy props:
  • Head to the thrift shops for mismatched utensils
  • Load up on colorful peppers to spice up your centerpiece.
  • A piñata makes an almost instant fiesta, so it goes without saying you
    should have at least one of them at the Cinco De Mayo birthday.
    Traditional piñatas are a five-point star shaped or shaped like a burro or
    donkey. Whatever you choose, it will be a smashing success.
  • Prop an inflatable cactus into a terra cotta pot for a convincing
    presentation.
  • Your Cinco De Mayo celebration should honor the Mexican national flag
    with a festive display of green, white and red. (Green symbolizes
    independence, white for religion and red for the Union.) The mylar
    balloon,  left, will give the right lift.

Fiesta party foods
Aye carumba: what a feast  you can have! But even the most finicky kids will enjoy
feasting on taquitos as the main course. You'll find them in the frozen food section of
your grocer. Just heat and serve. Nachos or Quesadillas are relatively easy to make
and are great kid-friendly options. Older kids will enjoy a taco or burrito bar. And for
the adults: enchiladas and a salad.

  • Dip into some fun. Giving kids a taste of Mexico starts with the chips. Look to
    your grocery store for special tortilla chip varieties in green, red, and blue. You'll
    please the adults, too with a variety of salsas and picante sauces. Try salsa
    verde, corn salsa, pineapple salsa and black bean dips alongside the expected
    nacho cheese dip and guacamole. Be sure to keep the spicy variety of chips and
    salsas high above and away from kids reach to avoid any unpleasant surprises
    as this is a kids party!

  • Make mock margaritas and sip silly sangrias. Transport imaginations to a warmer
    locale by cooling them off with refreshing beverages:
  • Make an icy mock margarita by blending frozen lemon or limeade with ice.
    Rim a plastic margarita glass with a wedge of lime and a dip into colorful
    drink sugars so it looks "authentica."
  • For a kid-friendly sangria, start with pitcher of grape juice, add a dash of
    spritzer and garnish with wedges of citrus fruit (a pretty mix of lemon,
    lime, and orange).
  • Skip the rum and mix up a Pina Colodas available in your frozen beverage
    isle of your grocery store. Remember the fancy drink umbrella!
  • Frap a frosty Fresca with a blended mixture of watermelon cubes, crushed
    ice, and raspberry or lime sherbet. Top with miniature chocolate chips to
    look like watermelon seeds and a green straw.

  • Ideas for a sweet finale to your fiesta party:
  • Flan, a Mexican style custard, is a traditional dessert option, but kids will
    expect a birthday cake, and here are some ideas:
  • Search local Mexican bakery for sugared pastries.
  • Mexican wedding cakes are not cakes at all, but a sort of shortbread
    cookie. These powdered sugar dusted cookies make a nice
    accompaniment to the dessert lineup.
  • Cinnamon sugared donuts provide a close substitute for Churros.
  • In the Mexican tradition, serve hot chocolate, which will go well with the
    cake!
  • Serving coffee for the adults? Offer them a Kahlua laced coffee creation
    topped with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

    Finally, be sure to enlist help of family and friends when it's time for the birthday
    cake: ask them to substitute "Feliz Compleaños!" for "Happy Birthday" or add
    some pizazz to the Happy Birthday song with "cha-cha-CHA" interruptions. For
    example, "Happy Birthday to you! Cha-cha-cha. Happy Birthday to you! Cha-cha-
    cha! Happy Birthday dear Maria... Happy Birthday to you! Cha-Cha-cha!"

Fiesta party games, activities and favors
Are you stuck on the border trying to come up with fun and games beyond the piñata?
Then here's your passport for fun:

  • Play pin the tail on the piñata. Buy a donkey shaped piñata for a clever game of
    pin-the-tail on the donkey in three dimensional form. Make your own tails with
    curling ribbon and staple the tail to a number corresponding to each child, then
    hang the piñata and allow kids, blindfolded of course, to try their luck pinning
    the tail to the piñata.

  • Get loco with jumping bean lore. Read "Lucas and His Loco Beans: A Tale of the
    Mexican Jumping Bean" by Ramona Moreno Winner, left. The book is an
    entertaining journey of nature and science. After reading the story, give each
    child some jumping beans of their own.

    Providing Mexican jumping beans as favors to accompany the reading of the
    book will make you the talk of the town; however, they are available only
    seasonally around August of every year, so if you're planning a Cinco De Mayo
    celebration, you'll have to settle for the ball bearing in plastic variety, right. If
    they are in season, we suggest ordering jumping bean favors from MyPetBeans.
    com. You'll get 40 jumping beans and ten information booklets for $18.95 plus
    $6.00 handling. MypetBeans.com also includes ideas for fun games to play with
    your jumping beans.

  • Mexican party favors that will say "Gracias" with style. While the Mexican jumping
    bean would top all the loot possibilities for your fiesta party, they may not be
    available for your party date. Traditional Mexican toys make excellent party
    favors and here are some suggestions:
  • Wooden Mexican cup toy called a "Baleros"
  • Wooden Jacob's Ladder toy, called a "Tablitas"

More ways to transport them south of the border with fun and games.

  • Dad can wave a red flag and yell "Torro, Torro" to  invite a little charging
    bull. The boys will enjoy the "bull fighting" which is apropos if it is a May
    birthday (often sign of the bull).  
  • Teach the kids to dance the Macarena!
  • Play pass the jalapeño (a variation of the hot potato game). Use mariachi
    music of course!

Resources for a Cinco de Mayo Party for kids

  • Say "Hola" to Barbie. The ideal birthday gift to preserve the memories of this
    special celebration is the Cinco De Mayo Barbie, left. She'll also make an ideal
    fiesta party decoration as a table centerpiece.

  • Print, cut, party! If you have a color printer and some patience on the computer
    (as well as cutting and pasting and gluing), then visit ETSY.com seller
    paperandcake for a fiesta party kit that you can download and customize.

  • Piñata craft: Make mini chili pepper piñata out of toilet paper rolls! Fill with M&Ms
    and you've got a cute decoration or activity for the kids.

Real Fiesta parties
Tell us about your fiesta (or Cinco De Mayo party) and share party ideas by visiting us
on Twitter.
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