As Texas natives, we know that Cinco de Mayo is no small event in this great state. That being said, as experts in lighting design, we also know how important the right lighting is to set the tone for outdoor parties. With one of our favorite holidays around the corner, the experts at The Perfect Light are here to tell you how to throw the perfect Cinco de Mayo party in your own backyard!
First on your planning agenda should be your décor. Especially for an outdoor fiesta, you will want to make sure you have a harmonious marriage between festive and functional. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Floral Papel Picado/Traditional Paper Banners
You can represent a form of traditional Mexican folk art and enliven your party by hanging floral papel picados throughout your space. In addition to these floral picados, you can hang “Cinco de Mayo-themed” variations of these traditional paper banners above a dining or entertainment space for a festive pop of color.
Colorful Fiesta Wreaths
Another fun way to add some color to your party space is by hanging colorful fiesta wreaths at entryways as a bright welcome to your guests. This is a fun DIY project to do with your family or friends and is something you can bring back out for future occasions.
No Cinco de Mayo party would be complete without colorful sombreros! As a fresh way to incorporate sombreros as a décor element, you can use them as centerpieces for your dining tables. Simply place a large, colorful sombrero on top of a tall candlestick, and fill the rim with cupcakes, different types of salsa, Mexican candy, or colorful flowers and confetti. The sky is the limit for the many ways you can use this centerpiece, so get creative and have fun!
Terra Cotta Serving Bowls
Another fresh take on tabletop décor is using terra cotta pots as serving bowls. This can be incorporated in a tapas hour or during a main course at a dining table. You can fill small terra cotta pots with fresh guacamole, Pico de Gallo, salsa, and queso for a whimsical touch.
Colorful Floral Pinatas
For a more elegant twist on the classic pinata, you can make DIY flower pinatas to hang as a beautiful focal point at your party. While these aren’t the type of pinatas you can take a swing at with a bat, your guests will be amazed at your artistry with these unique pieces.
As a simple way to add some color and fun to your dining tables, you can add some confetti glass vases. To make these festive table pieces, follow these steps:
- Wipe your vases down with alcohol and begin adding small dots of your first color to the bottom of the vase with the flat end of a toothpick.
- After allowing 10 minutes for these dots to dry, dab your second color of dots with the same method to the bottom of your vase.
- Continue this process with all the colors, until you achieve your desired look.
- Then, bake the vases in the oven to the specifications of the manufacturer.
- Once they have cooled off, fill your confetti-dotted vases with colorful flowers and set them how you want them on your dining tables.
Festive Table Runners and Place Settings
Another way to dress up your table settings with some color is by adding some vibrant, geometric-patterned table runners and linens. You can find an abundance of fun runners and linens for Cinco de Mayo at great prices online.
Mexican Food Can Floral Arrangements
Whether you choose to fill them with cacti, succulents, or colorful flowers, these Mexican food-can arrangements are guaranteed to delight your guests! As a virtually free centerpiece, simply save up your empty cans from the food you’ve prepared for the party, and fill them with flowers, succulents, or cacti for a fun and eclectic centerpiece.
Jalapeno Place Cards
Once you’ve created the perfect seating arrangement for your guests, you can add some charming jalapeno place cards to playfully mark the seating assignments. Simply write each guest’s name on their own jalapeno in metallic sharpie and place the jalapeno at the assigned place setting.
Miniature Pinata Place Cards
Another fun way to spice up traditional place cards is by using miniature pinatas as holders for each place card. These are guaranteed to make your guests smile! You can make this a fun DIY project to do with friends or family.
Ambiance is the key to the success of any party. While the music and décor will help set the scene, your lighting brings the magic. Therefore, the lighting you choose for your party space will be elemental in setting the right tone for the evening. Here are some lighting ideas to make your Cinco de Mayo party perfect:
Shaded String Lights
For a DIY touch, you can make your own shaded string lights. Here are the steps to follow for these easy-to-make lights:
- On a piece of cardboard, draw a clam-shell-shape. Then, cut the shape out to be used as your template.
- Next, fold an 8 and ½-by-11-inch sheet of vellum paper in half. Then, place your template on the vellum paper, so that the “hinge” of your clam-shell touches the crease of the folded paper.
- Then, trace around your template onto the paper and cut it out. Repeat this until you have multicolored vellum clam-shells.
- Finally, position the clam-shell vellum shades over each bulb of your string lights. Secure them with a binder clip to the base of each bulb. Then, hang the string lights above the area you want to illuminate, securing them with tape.
Festive Paper Lanterns
With the many Mexican folk art forms that use paper as the medium, you can give a nod to this tradition by incorporating festive paper lanterns into your lighting design for your party. Not only will these add a pop of color to the occasion, but they will help set a warm, inviting ambiance for the evening with the soft glow they provide.
Another way to provide a warm atmosphere to your party is placing ceramic lanterns around your dining or entertainment area to provide extra illumination and a warm, cozy glow to the evening. For a vibe fitting for a Cinco de Mayo fiesta, we recommend looking for bold orange, green, red, or blue-colored lanterns with intricate cutouts. Also, you should look for varieties that can be placed along a patio or table or hung up.
For a more subtle and elegant take on a Cinco de Mayo celebration, you can choose to place plain white candles bundled together with twine as centerpieces to your table. The soft glow of candlelight will set a relaxing, intimate ambiance to your party, and guests will feel instantly cozy.
Chili Pepper String Lights
As a total departure from the subtle elegance of simple white candles, you can go bold by hanging chili pepper string lights. Not only are these an on-the-nose feature to accentuate your Cinco de Mayo theme, but they provide a pop of color, humor, and warmth with the softer red-toned glow.
Star-Shaped Lanterns/String Lights
To add a dreamy and warm ambiance to your party, you can add star-shaped lanterns or string lights to softly illuminate your dining and entertainment area. Not only will these lights set the perfect atmosphere for your fiesta – they can be used for any other event you host in the future.
Tea-Lit Margarita Glasses
For a touch of whimsy, you can place tea lights in margarita glasses and add them to your tables as centerpieces. These will be a favorite of your guests and can provide some fantastic ambiance to the evening.
To make your guests feel like they’re a member of a giant family at your party, mix and match your chairs! We love the idea of spray-painting lawn chairs different bright colors and mixing and matching them around the dining table.
In the same spirit of your mix and match dining area, we love the idea of bringing out some mix-and-matched area rugs and laying them out on your lawn or patio. Then, you can place cozy chairs, tables, poufs, and ottomans on these rugs for your guests to relax and chat.
Photo Op Area
With all the vibrant décor and ambiance at your Cinco de Mayo party, it would be a waste not to have a photobooth for your guests to commemorate the fun! Therefore, we love the idea of setting up a DIY photobooth. Just hang a large frame from a tree or porch ceiling and wrap the frame with festive lights. Then, fill a big woven basket with fun Mexican-themed props for guests to snap their own silly photos.
As one of the key parts of any Cinco de Mayo celebration, the food and drinks you choose to serve can make or break the success of the evening. Therefore, we have compiled some examples of light bites, cocktails, main course dishes, and desserts that will be a guaranteed hit with your guests:
Because many Cinco de Mayo parties include guests of all age-groups, we recommend serving some classic Mexican-themed drinks, along with non-alcoholic variations. Here are some ideas:
- Mexican Mule
- Blackberry Sage Tequila Smash
- Classic Margarita with Optional Jalapeno
- Frozen Watermelon Margarita
- Aguas Frescas
With so many delicious drink options, your guests will need some equally delectable treats to munch on. Here are some light bites you can serve with cocktails:
- Layered Bean Dip with Chips
- Classic Chips with Salsa/Guacamole
- Chips and Queso/Corn Salsa
- Mini Chipotle Shrimp Tostadas
- Avocado Fries
- Mexican Street Corn
If your guests have not already filled up on your outstanding light bites, they are in for a treat! Here is a menu with examples of some of our favorite Cinco de Mayo dishes:
- Build-Your-Own Taco/Tostada Station
- Build-Your-Own Nacho Station
- Tamales and Taquitos
- Homemade Crunch Wrap Supremes
Last but not least, you’ll want to include some sweet treats for your guests. Here are some unique takes on some classic Mexican-themed desserts to consider:
- Margarita Cupcakes
- Churro Cupcakes
- Dessert Nachos
- Frozen Margarita Pie
- Sopapilla Cheesecake Pie
- Lime and Tequila Infused Strawberries
What is a Cinco de Mayo party without a piñata? Certainly, not one we would want to attend! One of the most fun and classic items to include on your party list is a piñata. You can either purchase one or make your own, and fill it with anything you want to, depending on the age group and preferences of your guests. If you are really looking to step up the fun at your fiesta, you can hire a professional to teach your guests an authentic Mexican hat dance, or even the salsa, samba, rumba, or bachata. This can be a fun way to really get into the spirit of the evening and let loose with your friends and family.
How to Throw the Perfect Cinco de Mayo Party with The Perfect Light
Although you now have some ideas to get your creative juices flowing, the team at The Perfect Light can take your event to the next level with our expertise and eye for design. With years of experience in delivering perfect ambiance for all types of outdoor events, our pros are ready to help make your next event magical with the perfect lighting. For help from our team, call us today at 972-616-4104 or schedule a consultation on our website!