Cinco de Mayo Party Ideas to Celebrate This Year

April 16, 2024 by Anna-Bet Stemmet

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Cinco de Mayo is a vibrant celebration of Mexican culture and heritage, offering the perfect opportunity to host a festive gathering for all your besties. Here’s our comprehensive guide for planning a memorable Cinco de Mayo party for adults that sets the scene for celebration with a variety of tasty food, inspiring drinks, gorgeous decorations, fun games, and more.  

What is Cinco de Mayo?

Top view of Cinco de Mayo snacks and decorations on a blue surface

Every May 5th, festive music fills the air as Cinco de Mayo (also known as Battle of Puebla Day or Mexican American Heritage Day) is celebrated throughout Mexico. It commemorates the underdog victory of the Mexican army over French forces at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Since then, Cinco de Mayo has also become a vibrant occasion celebrated throughout the United States and beyond, honouring Mexican heritage and culture through traditional food, music, and joyous gatherings. 

There are a lot of things to consider when planning a Cinco de Mayo party, so you need to bring your A-game. Luckily, we’ve got the best ideas all ready to go. 

Cinco de Mayo décor & themes

¡Olé! Get ready to set the scene for a south-of-the-border fiesta with some festive Cinco de Mayo decorations. We’re talking bright colours, bold themes, and a touch of Mexican charm to create an atmosphere that’s muy divertido (very fun). Here are some ideas to inspire your inner fiesta decorator: 

Viva la Fiesta!

Close up of a Cinco de Mayo cocktail on a colourful table dressed for festivities

This classic theme is all about celebrating Mexican culture in all its vibrancy. Decorate with: 

  • Striking streamers and paper fans. Drape colourful crepe paper or tissue paper streamers from the ceiling or hang vibrantly coloured paper fans in various sizes. 
  • The Mexican flag. Display the Mexican flag prominently. You can hang it as a backdrop, use it as a tablecloth, or incorporate the red, white, and green colours into your decorations, food and drinks. 
  • Festive tablecloths and napkins. Add a pop of colour with festive tablecloths and napkins featuring sombreros, cacti, or other Mexican motifs. 

A riot of colour

Mexican table decor with colorful hats

  • Rainbow explosion. Don’t be shy with colour! Use a mix of bright pinks, oranges, blues, yellows, and greens to create a visually stunning display. 
  • Mix and match patterns. Combine patterns like stripes, polka dots, and zigzags for a playful and festive vibe. 
  • Colourful tableware. Fiesta-fy your table with brightly coloured plates, cups, and cutlery. 

Papel picado banners

Papel picado strung up for a Day of the Dead party at home

Papel picado, those beautiful decorative papers with intricate cutouts seen throughout Mexico on festive days, are a must-have for any Cinco de Mayo celebration. 

  • Hang them high. String papel picado banners across doorways, walls, or the patio for an authentic touch. 
  • Make your own. Feeling crafty? Use online templates to create your own papel picado using colourful tissue paper. 

Desert theme ideas

Close up of a Cinco de Mayo cocktail on a colourful table dressed for festivities

Embrace desert vibes with a cactus theme. 

  • Cactus centerpieces. Create adorable centerpieces using potted cacti or brightly coloured paper cutouts of cacti. 
  • Cactus balloons. Find cactus-shaped balloons in various sizes to add a touch of whimsy. 
  • Cactus garland. String together colourful felt cutouts of cacti or use green balloons to make a cactus garland. 

You might also like: How to Throw the Best Mexican-Themed Party, Ever 

Cinco de Mayo food ideas

Easy canapés

These are ideal for cocktail parties at home.  

  • Mini chicken quesadillas. Bite-sized and packed with flavour, these are sure to be a crowd-pleaser. 
  • Guacamole stuffed mini jalapeño peppers. A fresh and colourful canapé that’s easy to grab and enjoy. 
  • Mexican street corn cups. Serve this classic street food in cups for mess-free munching. 
  • Taco pinwheels. Flour tortillas that are rolled up with seasoned ground beef, cheese, and salsa, then sliced into bite-sized pinwheels for easy snacking. 
  • Chilli lime shrimp skewers. Skewers of succulent shrimp marinated in chili and lime, perfect for a flavourful finger food option. 

Cinco de Mayo potluck line-up

Top view of a variety of Mexican foods contributed by a group of friends for a Cinco de Mayo potluck.

If you’re hosting a party for a big group of friends, we suggest asking them to each bring a dish to pull together a Cinco de Mayo potluck spread. Here are some ideas: 

  • Homemade salsa and chips. Have guests bring their favourite homemade salsa along with a bag of tortilla chips for dipping. 
  • Enchiladas. Enchiladas are a potluck favourite that can be made ahead of time and reheated for the party. 
  • Mexican street corn salad. This refreshing side dish adds a pop of flavour to any potluck spread. 
  • Sopapilla cheesecake bars. A delightful fusion of cheesecake and sopapillas (a kind of fried pastry served in several regions with Spanish heritage), these bars feature a cinnamon-sugar crust and creamy cheesecake filling, ideal for satisfying any sweet tooth at the potluck. 

Taco bar

Tacos with mince, tomato and coriander

A build-your-own taco bar is always a big hit at any Mexican-themed shindig. Here are some tasty items and ingredients you should ideally include when you put together a taco bar at home. 

  • Protein options. Offer a variety, such as spicy ground beef, shredded chicken, grilled shrimp, and a vegetarian option like grilled tofu or jackfruit.  
  • Tortillas. Serve both soft flour tortillas and crispy taco shells to accommodate different preferences. 
  • Toppings. Include classics like shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, cheese, sour cream, and salsa, as well as extras like pickled onions, jalapeños, and fresh coriander. 

Cinco de Mayo dessert ideas

Front view of a batch of fresh churros presented on a white plate on a wooden surface

Of course, we cannot forget about the sweet stuff! Here are our a few of our favourites: 

  • Churros with chocolate dipping sauce. Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and perfect for dipping in rich, melted chocolate. 
  • Tres leches cake. This moist sponge cake soaked in three types of milk is a decadent and traditional Mexican dessert. 
  • Margarita cupcakes. A playful twist on a classic cocktail, these cupcakes are infused with tequila and lime flavours, and topped with tangy lime frosting. 

Cinco de Mayo drink ideas

Of course, you’re going to need some festive clinkers in the mix to complement those Mexican-inspired eats. Check out our easy Cinco de Mayo cocktails below, or take our fun Cinco de Mayo cocktail quiz to receive an exclusive recipe tailored to your taste.  

Lime Margarita

Top image of refreshing and citrusy Lime Margarita Cocktails

The Lime Margarita is a complete classic. With so many different versions of the Margarita cocktail around, you’d be forgiven for not realising that the deceptively humble lime version is the original drink that started the whole craze. It’s fresh, zesty and easy to make at home—even for a crowd.    

Make it with: Grand Marnier 

Read next: 10 Ways to Make a Margarita 


Two Paloma cocktails on a window sill in a beach house overlooking an ocean scene outside

The pretty Paloma is a buzz of flavour, made with a tangy mix of pink grapefruit juice, lime juice, club soda, and a nice kick of good quality tequila. This popular cocktail outranks the Margarita in Mexico, and, once you’ve tried it, it’s easy to see why.  

Make it with: Espolòn Tequila Blanco 

More ways to pour: 10 Playful Paloma Variations for Picture-Perfect Sipping 

Mexican Martini

Close up of a Mexican Martini cocktail garnished with a lime wheel, presented against a white backdrop with greenery and fresh limes around it

Take a classic Margarita and layer it with the tang of a Dirty Martini to make some magic. Flavour-wise it’s got a compelling sweet-savoury thing going on, with a salty hint of olive brine toning down the sweetness of the orange liqueur, complemented by the briskness of crisp vermouth. 

Make it with: Cinzano Vermouth Bianco 

¡Hola! 13 Best Mexican Cocktails to Make at Home 


Three spicy Michelada cocktails served with pulled pork tacos

The moreish Michelada cocktail is a combination of ice-cold beer in a chilli and salt-rimmed glass, topped with clamato (clam and tomato juice), a good squeeze of lime, Worcestershire sauce and some hot stuff. Like its cousin the Bloody Mary, this is one of the best savoury summer cocktails out there. 

Now Trending: Easy Mezcal Cocktails for Agave Lovers 

Mexican Hot Chocolate

Mexican hot chocolates with marshmallow garnish

Mexicans have been making spiced hot chocolates since Mayan and Aztec times, believing cacao was a gift from the gods. Adding tequila was a natural progression. Our velvety Mexican Hot Chocolate recipe features warming cinnamon and lip-tingling, cayenne-spiced milk along with a good measure of reposado tequila to warm you from the inside out. 

Make it with: Espolòn Tequila Reposado 

Cinco de Mayo party entertainment

Mariachi band playing

Now that you’ve got the food and décor covered, let’s get this party started with some fun entertainment ideas for your Cinco de Mayo celebration. 

Get moving and grooving

  • Music for the soul. Create a playlist of vibrant Mexican music, from traditional mariachi tunes to upbeat Latin pop. Get your guests moving and shaking those maracas! 
  • Learn a few salsa steps. Put on a short instructional salsa video and have some laughs while learning some basic moves together. 
  • Limbo time. Set up a limbo bar and challenge your guests to see who can limbo the lowest.  

Liven up the party

  • Piñata power. No Cinco de Mayo fiesta is complete without a piñata! Fill it with candy, small toys, or even gift certificates for an extra surprise. 
  • Photo booth fun. Set up a DIY photo booth with festive props like sombreros, mustaches, and maracas. 
  • Games galore. Have some classic party games on hand like Lotería (Mexican Bingo) or break the ice with some charades using Mexican-themed words. 

Keep it creative

  • DIY fiesta flavours. Set up a station with craft supplies and let your guests create their own maracas or decorate mini sombreros. 
  • Taco garnishing contest. Put a twist on the classic taco by providing a variety of toppings and have a contest for the most creative culinary creation. 
  • Margarita mix-off. Channel your inner bartender and have a competition for the tastiest margarita recipe. 

For more amazing ideas on celebrating Cinco de Mayo in style with amazing drinks, visit the Espolòn, Montelobos, and Grand Marnier websites.

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