How to Plan a Cinco de Mayo Party

Here are some tips and tricks (and some links to some utterly amazing recipes below) to help you celebrate the 5th of May in true Spanish style!


Cinco de Mayo is a celebration held on May 5. The date is observed to commemorate the Mexican Army’s unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza. In Canada and the U.S., Cinco de Mayo has taken on a significance beyond that in Mexico and the date has become associated with the celebration of Mexican-Canadian and Mexican-American culture. In Mexico, the commemoration of the battle is mostly ceremonial, such as through military parades.

This year we’re celebrating Cinco de Mayo with our friends and families and we want you to come along.



Make Sure You Have a Festive Setting

Papel picado (perforated paper) is a traditional Mexican folk art. It’s a decorative craft that involves cutting out intricate patterns on colourful tissue paper. The patterns are traditionally cut using a guide and a small chisel, but we used scissors for our version. The designs are then glued onto a string to assemble banners, which are used as decorations for important festivities and holidays.


  • 6 20″ x 20″ (50 x 50 cm) sheets of tissue paper in different colors
  • Glue stick
  • String or ribbon
  • Scissors
  1. Fold the tissue paper horizontally. Then fold it over again. Make a small fold over on one side, so you are sure to leave space for the string.
  2. Use scissors to cut shapes in the paper. (It’s kind of like cutting paper snowflakes.) Once you have cut enough little patterns, unfold the paper.
  3. Take the uncut end and fold it over the string. Glue it in place.
  4. Repeat this process for each sheet of tissue paper.

Sending the Party Home

Our spin on a goodie bag (contained in a printed Mexican novelty bag) holds spicy candies, small Mexican toys, themed stickers and, of course, a Dora the Explorer candy cane.


Make Sure to Play the Loteria!

To really experience Mexican tradition, pick up a set of Loteria cards. Manufactured since 1887, this game is played exactly like bingo but with cards instead of balls. Players try to get rows of four (often marked by pinto beans) and shout “Loteria!” before anyone else.

Celebrate with Song

Tie party invitations to inexpensive toy maracas. Guests can bring their invites along for an impromptu musical performance to authentic mariachi music. Or get the kidlets to make maracas by filling small containers with dried beans or pasta, beads or even nuts and bolts.


Expand Your Vocabulary

Learn a few words or phrases in Spanish. Start with basic terms such as “hola” (hello) and “adiós” (goodbye), numbers 1-10, primary colours or the days of the week.

Simple Spanish Words and Phrases

  • Please = Por favor
  • Thank you = Gracias
  • You’re welcome = De nada
  • How are you? = ¿Cómo estás?
  • Good = Bien
  • What’s your name? = ¿Cómo te llamas?
  • My name is ____ = Me llamo ____ or Mi nombre es ____
  • Yes = Si
  • No = No
  • Let’s go = Vamos


Decorate or Draw a Mexican Flag

Mexico’s flag is made up three vertical stripes. The left green stripe stand for hope, the middle white stripe represents purity and the right red stripe represents the blood of the Mexican people. The central emblem is the Aztec pictogram for Tenochtitlan (now Mexico City), the centre of their empire.

According to a beautiful legend, the gods advised the Aztecs to establish their city when they saw an eagle perched on a prickly pear devouring a serpent. They saw this mythical eagle on a marshy lake that is now the Zócalo (main plaza) in Mexico City.

Download a Mexican flag template and print on card stock or glue it onto heavy paper, and the kids can colour it in. If they want, they can decorate it with green and red tissue paper by tearing small pieces of paper and gluing them onto the flag. They can also dye rice with food colouring to create a Mexican rice flag.

Party Games

A piñata, filled with small toys and treats, is a sure-fire hit. Always.

Treats Sure To Satisfy

What fiesta is complete without margaritas? Make a virgin version for the littles and for those who don’t want to drink alcohol. For snacking, try tostadas toasted corn tortillas that are available in any international aisle of the grocery store (they’re great with melted cheese and salsa!). Here are a bunch more Mexican-inspired recipes for you to indulge in and celebrate with this Cinco de Mayo.




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