Food laid out for a Cinco de Mayo party

Your Cinco de Mayo Fiesta Guide

Cinco de Mayo is a fun, Mexican holiday that Americans have recently adopted and started celebrating alongside our neighbors to the south. There’s almost nothing better than a night full of margaritas and Mexican food, but do you know the true meaning of this holiday? Cinco de Mayo is very special to Mexicans because it marks the day that the Mexican forces defeated the French army at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. It is often misconstrued as their Independence Day, but that day is actually celebrated on September 16th. Cinco de Mayo is important because it honors the ethnicity and pride of Mexicans everywhere and their triumph in the face of adversity.

If you want to have a Cinco de Mayo party and don’t know much about Mexican culture or food besides what you’ve learned from all those Taco Bell commercials, you can still throw an exciting, culturally accurate fiesta for you and your amigos. Here's how:

Who's hungry?

Mexicans usually throw large parties in honor of this holiday, and with those parties comes magnificent feasts, including tacos, enchiladas, salsa, and tortilla chips. You can also choose to serve other foods, such fajitas, cheese dip, and guacamole if you wish. If you aren't a skilled cook or don’t have the time to prepare all of these dishes, you can always have a Mexican restaurant in your area cater your party.

Bottoms up!

Tequila is the obvious choice, but if you want to branch out a little from the traditional margarita, you should also try some different tequila-based cocktails. An alternative to the margarita is the La Paloma Suprema, which combines tequila and grapefruit soda in a tangy, delicious drink. You can also kick your margaritas up a notch by adding new flavors, such as watermelon. Combine fresh watermelon puree with Mexican agave syrup, margarita mix, and tequila to create this tasty concoction.

Mood Music

No party is complete without music, and for this fiesta, we don’t think that listening to the likes of Jason Derulo will suffice. Instead, find a Cinco de Mayo themed playlist online or on Spotify, or you can create your own. Some great songs to include are: “Tequila” by the Champs, “La Bamba” by Los Lobos, “Pancho and Lefty” by Emmylou Harris, and pretty much anything by Enrique Iglesias. With these tunes in the background, you may forget for a moment that you’re not actually on the beach in Cancun!

Get the look.

This is one of the largest aspects of the traditional Cinco de Mayo celebration, so you definitely shouldn't hold back. Mexicans dress up as Mexican and French soldiers and sometimes hold reenactments, but you don't have to do that much. You can always pick up some sombreros and other classic Mexican skirts and colorful ponchos instead. Encourage your guests to dress up as well! When it comes to decorations, most people adorn their homes with balloons, streamers, and flowers, which would top off the perfect fiesta atmosphere.