Throw Your Own Cinco de Mayo Celebration

You can celebrate an important Mexican holiday by throwing your own Cinco de Mayo celebration at home.

Cinco de Mayo recognizes the victory of a much smaller and poorly trained group of Mexican soldiers against over 6,000 French soldiers in the town of Puebla, Mexico. This determined army rousted out what was said to be the top-notch military group of the day. It was a victory of the people over the ruling upper class. Today Cinco de Mayo, while not widely celebrated in Mexico, has become a new tradition in the United States.

Creating Your Own Cinco de Mayo Fun
Many towns and cities have Cinco de Mayo celebrations but, if your town doesn't, why not have your own? A Cinco de Mayo party lets you and your neighbors enjoy Mexican music and cuisine without even leaving the house. Another advantage, especially if you have children, is you control the atmosphere. Many large Cinco de Mayo events serve alcohol and may host other activities that are adults-only events. You won't have to worry about this if you plan your own party.

Start With Invitations
Cinco de Mayo translates as the fifth of May, so your guests should be aware of the event in general. But you will want to send out invitations early so your guests can put your party on their calendars. Cinco de Mayo parties are growing more common, so you want to make sure your guests put your party first. Also ask guests to RSVP so you know how much food to make.

Send out colorful invitations in the shape of Mexican sombreros or cactus. Or, you can make your own invitations by printing out cards with the Mexican flag on them. If you speak Spanish or several of your guests speak Spanish, honor Mexican culture by printing the invitation details in Spanish on one side of the card and in English on the other.

Cinco de Mayo Party Supplies
When hosting this type of party, don't hesitate to use disposable party ware. Many party stores carry Cinco de Mayo party supplies such as cups, plates, flatware, tablecloths and even centerpieces and decorations. If you can't find party supplies that clearly relate to Cinco de Mayo, go for anything in red, white and green-the colors of the Mexican flag. Watch for clearance sales after May 5, and buy your party supplies at a fraction of the cost for next year's party.

Cinco de Mayo Food
The best part of any celebration is the food, and a Cinco de Mayo event is no different. A fun dish to make for a Cinco de Mayo celebration is empanadas. Here is a recipe for them:

Empanada Dough Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons butter

1. In a small-size mixing bowl, put the water, egg, egg white and vinegar. Beat these ingredients together, and set them aside.

2. In a larger mixing bowl, put the flour and salt. Stir well to blend. Cut the butter into the flour using a fork or pastry blender.

2. Once the butter is cut into the flour, make a small hole in the center of the flour mix. Pour the liquid ingredients in the first bowl into the hole. Mix the liquid ingredients with the dry ingredients until everything is well blended and forms a dough.

3. Sprinkle some flour on your work surface, and turn the dough out onto it. Knead until the dough is smooth. Put the empanada dough into the refrigerator for at least an hour. If you are not going to use it within 24 hours, freeze the dough.

Empanada Beef Filling Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1/4 cup green olives, finely chopped
  • 2 small potatoes, diced into small cubes and cooked until soft
  • 2 carrots, diced into small cubes and cooked until soft
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon cumin

1. Put the oil in a large skillet, heat to medium, and sauté the onion and garlic until about a quarter of the way done. Add the ground beef to the onion garlic mix, and brown. When the hamburger is fully cooked, drain off the excess grease.

2. Next, add the beef broth to the meat mix. Stir in the olives. Simmer this mixture uncovered until the liquid is almost completely absorbed. Stir in the potatoes, carrots, hard-boiled eggs and cumin. You can add your favorite Mexican spices as well.

3. Roll out the dough to 1/8-inch thick. Cut out circles with a biscuit cutter or other round cookie cutter. You can make small biscuit-size empanadas or larger ones.

4. Place spoonfuls of the filling on one half of the dough. Fold the circle in half, and crimp the edges using your fingers or a fork. Make sure the semicircle seals well.

5. Deep-fry the empanadas until they are crispy. The oil should reach about 360 degrees. You can also bake them in the oven.

Empanadas are just the beginning for a delicious Cinco de Mayo meal. Mole, a zesty sauce that is a Mexican staple, is also served at this time of year, often with chicken. Mole can be tough to make, as it involves many ingredients and spices, but you can pick up mole from the store and add seasonings to suit your tastes. Prepare plenty of rice, pinto beans and black beans for sides, and set out chips and salsas ranging from mild to medium to hot. Conclude the meal with flan, or custard, as dessert.

Cinco de Mayo Decorations
You will certainly want to establish a festive party atmosphere. Colorful streamers in red, green and white can be hung from the ceilings and hung from fences. Outdoor patio lights in the shape of cactuses or Mexican hats will add sparkle and gaiety. You can purchase these types of lights in most home building centers. Cover the tables with serapes, and make table centerpieces from sombreros, cactus plants and chili peppers.

Cinco de Mayo Activities
You can choose just to get together with your friends, listen to some mariachi music, eat your empanadas and enjoy the evening at your Cinco de Mayo party, but planned activities can get the party started. Here is a list of suggested activities:

  • Make piñatas - they're not just for kids!
  • Learn the Mexican hat dance.
  • Have everyone bring a Mexican dish, ask everyone to vote for the tastiest ones and hand out prizes.
  • Decorate sombreros.
  • Test your Mexico trivia knowledge.
  • Have your guests come dressed in traditional Mexican dress.

By following each of these suggestions, guests will be hoping you have another Cinco De Mayo party the following year!

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