Cinco de Mayo Party Ideas for Adults: Food, Decor, & More


Cinco de Mayo is coming up on May 5! (And if you think that’s obvious, check out this funny video.)

But how can you throw a great shindig? And why do people celebrate Cinco de Mayo anyway?

This post will give you a brief explainer on the history of the holiday, decoration ideas, food and drink recipes, and music for the perfect party.

To see all these Cinco de Mayo party ideas in one place, follow our Pinterest board:

Follow Taxco.925 Mexican Silver Store’s board Cinco de Mayo Party Ideas on Pinterest.

¡Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

Why Do People Celebrate Cinco de Mayo?

First, Cinco de Mayo is more of an American drinking holiday than it is celebrated by Mexico. After all, it’s not Mexico’s independence day (that’s September 16). On May 5, 1862, the Mexican army unexpectedly won the Battle of Puebla against Napoleon III and his French army. A year later, however, the French came back and captured Mexico City.

So why do people celebrate it?

A few reasons:

Time writes, “The Puebla victory came to symbolize unity and pride for what seemed like a Mexican David defeating a French Goliath.” It became popular in Mexican-American communities in the U.S. in the 1940s, and then beer and tequila companies latched onto it in the 1980s as a way to sell more alcohol. And in 2007, U.S. Congress passed a bill to commemorate its historical significance.

Today, everyone loves an excuse to put on a sombrero and drink tequila.

In September, we’ll write more about Mexican Independence Day and its significance. But for now, you know more about Cinco de Mayo than the average American. To throw a great Cinco de Mayo party, keep reading!

Cinco de Mayo Appetizers

There’s nothing wrong with chips and salsa.

But they aren’t very exciting, either.

I’ve found some much better recipe ideas for you.

 •  Cheesy queso dip: Make the best queso cheese sauce ever with chiles, jalapeños, cream cheese, cheddar cheese, shallots, and mustard. Serve it just with chips, or use it in Emeril’s crazy nachos recipe, which includes slow-cooked pulled pork, peppers, and scallions.

 cheesy queso dip cinco de mayo

 •  Holy guacamole: Go guac crazy with guacamole bruschetta or individual guacamole cups using wonton wraps.

 •  Mexican flag: The flag of Mexico is pretty simple, with red, white, and green under a coat of arms in the middle. Re-create it with guacamole, sour cream, and pico de gallo arranged in sections in a rectangular dish. Or use green peppers, ranch sauce, and red peppers instead.

 •  Other Cinco de Mayo appetizer recipes: You can’t go wrong with personal 7-layer dip cups the best weight loss supplement. Yum. For a more authentic recipe, try Mexican corn cakes. To please spicy food fans, these jalapeño poppers look tasty. 

And in case anyone is still hungry after all that goodness…

Cinco de Mayo Main Dish Recipes

A taco bar is the old standby for Cinco de Mayo parties. Everyone gets to make their tacos exactly how they like them — and you save time on prep. Fish tacos are always a favorite. Green chicken enchiladas are a classic as well. 

To get a little more creative, why not try baked creamy chicken taquitos? You roll up a mixture of chicken, cheese, peppers, and spices in corn or flour tortillas, then bake them until the edges get nice and crispy. The best part is, you can make a double batch and freeze half for some night when you don’t feel like cooking.

creamy chicken taquitos cinco de mayo

In colder climates, May might still be chilly. In that case, this crock pot chicken enchilada soup will be a big hit.

Mexican pizzas are sure to be a big hit, even if they aren’t particularly authentic. Nothing like biting into the crunch of crispy corn tortillas with a big dollop of sour cream on top.

Delicious Mexican-Inspired Dessert Recipes

Sometimes you want something sweet to nibble on while you finish off your margarita (more on Cinco de Mayo drink recipes below). 

We’ve got just the thing:

Margarita-flavored desserts.

Margarita cupcakes are pretty simple. You combine tequila, Grand Marnier, and margarita mix with a box of white cake mix, eggs, and lime zest. For amazing lime buttercream frosting, combine butter, sugar, lime juice, lime zest (see recipe for exact quantities). Garnish with lime slivers if you like. Or make a margarita cake using lemon cake mix, vanilla pudding, triple sec, and tequila.

 margarita cupcakes recipe cinco de mayo

Photo: Jamie

Too much margarita? Try making this salted caramel flan with berries, an apple enchilada dessert, or tres leches cake (Spanish for “three milks”). Any of those will have your Cinco de Mayo guests happily chowing down.

To show off your culinary skills, a complicated yet impressive dessert is these piñata cookies. It involves dyeing multiple batches of cookie dough, layering them, slicing them, cutting out donkey shapes, hiding M&Ms inside, and “gluing” them together with sugar and water. Pretty tricky, but perfect if you want a challenge.

For an easier treat ideal for hot weather, try these cucumber honeydew margarita popsicles or coconut-pineapple ice pops.

Easy Cinco de Mayo Drinks

What would a Cinco de Mayo party be without adult beverages?

Tequila, margaritas, and Coronas are an obvious choice. A classic margarita follows a 3-2-1 ratio of “three parts tequila, two parts good triple sec (like Luxardo Triplum, Cointreau, or Combier), and one part lime juice,” according to Chow. (You can also adjust the ratios to 2-1-1.) Then rub a lime on the rims of your glasses and dip them in salt. Garnish with lime.

 margarita recipe cinco de mayo party adults

Photo: The Culinary Geek

But just because this is a Cinco de Mayo party for adults doesn’t mean alcohol is required. Puree strawberries and add a little lime and sugar for strawberry agua fresca. Or you can make a virgin sangria with grape or pomegranate juice, ginger ale, and sliced fruit. This berry basil lemonade recipe looks refreshing too.

We may be done with food and drinks, but the party prep isn’t over yet…

Quick Decoration Ideas

It’s time to set the mood with decorations and music! Bright colors are required for your Cinco de Mayo party. Bold red, orange, yellow, and purple decorations will create a cheery atmosphere. Here are some decor ideas:

  •  Buy a piñata — or make one yourself

  •  Use fresh or fake flowers as centerpieces, such as yellow daisies or pink tulips

  •  Put chips in a sombrero turned upside-down

  •  Make a little cactus out of pickles and toothpicks

  •  Buy chili pepper lights to create some ambiance

You can never have too much fringe or too many sugar skulls, either (although the Day of the Dead isn’t until November).

cinco de mayo party decorations ideas

Photos: Pinterest, Christmas Lights Etc., peasap, Nan Palmero, Frederic Bisson

Cinco de Mayo Party Music

Need instant party music? Press play on one of these videos for hours of Cinco de Mayo tunes!

  •  Putumayo’s full Mexican album on YouTube (41 minutes)

  •  Traditional Mexican music on YouTube (78 minutes)

  •  31 Mexican party songs, including Shakira

  •  15 songs by Latin pop stars like Jennifer Lopez, Enrique Iglesias, Shakira, etc.

  •  10 mariachi songs

Now you’re all set for an amazing Cinco de Mayo party. Don’t forget to follow our Cinco de Mayo board on Pinterest for all these ideas in one place!

Are you celebrating Cinco de Mayo this year? Tell us in the comments!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *