Do you know what I love most about celebrating Cinco De Mayo? EVERYTHING. I love the food, the music, the colors, and most of all how we are ultimately celebrating an organized group of indigenous people who stuck it to the man. In this case, a very short French man. You know, that little guy with the complex.

But even if you’re not a nerdy PBS junkie like me, celebrating Cinco De Mayo is just fun. It’s bright. It’s loud. It’s flavorful. There are a multitude of tacos and free flowing tequila. It’s everything I love about a party until my two-day hangover kicks in.

So when Liz and I started planning this little get together, we wanted to make sure we checked all the boxes – bright decorations, a plethora of taco options and margaritas that were so good they tricked you into having one or two too many.

Bright Colors – Check

Let’s start with this tablescape. I knew right away I was throwing terra cotta into the mix. As a child of the 70s, I’m obsessed with earthenware, and for years  I’ve been searching for some actual terracotta dinner plates without spending a small fortune. 

Then I found these Harlow Speckled Plates from Crate and Barrel and had to have them. Did I mention they coordinate with my Marin White Dinner Plates perfectly!?! To quote A-Teamer John “Hannibal” Smith, “I love it when a good plan comes together,” and once we had this bright-but-earthy base everything else was easy to imagine.

The Jupiter Glasses from Fortessa were Liz’s idea, as were the Oumy Placemats from her good friend Sofi over at Expedition SubSahara. And because I always want ALL the colors, I added these Makaria Napkins from Anthropologie. Since the top of the plates were white (read: BORING), I made some fun place cards to liven them up and tie-in the cobalt blue glasses. You can download and edit them for your own Cinco table over here. 

Then we finished the place setting with some Rose Gold Flatware that we’ve literally been trying to use all year. Who knew rose gold would cause so many design conundrums?  For the record, I still stand by my decision to purchase them. They were cheap enough that even if they only come out twice a year, they are worth having.

Bright Flowers – Also Check

Did you know April/May is peony season?  We were both so psyched to go crazy and buy all kinds of big bright obnoxious blooms and then Covid happened – again. No, we didn’t get sick, we are both vaccinated thank you very much, but apparently Covid has taken its toll on the flower markets. 

So, when we plopped down all of our favorite picks on our local wholesaler’s counter, she kindly looked at us and said, “Are you sure you want to spend $70 on 10 stems?” We quickly pivoted. We traded those beauties for some small aloe and cacti and headed to Trader Joe’s for some cheap replacements.

Serious side note here – Trader Joe’s almost always has an amazing selection of cut and potted flowers. It broke our hearts that we didn’t get our peonies, but we did manage to get a shit ton of bright blooms for a fraction of the cost. They almost always have ranunculus and roses and we were lucky to also find these cute orange flower bulbs. Turns out they are the orange version of a Star of Bethlehem and are quite literally called Orange Star Flowers. Trader Joe’s for the win – again!

You’ll notice that although we have lots of flowers, there wasn’t much in the way of arranging. Liz dropped some small juice and shot glasses into our terra cotta pots, because they have holes in the bottom, and basically made tight arrangements of each flower group. The result was this wonderful carpet of flowers and cacti that ran from one end of the table to the other. Added bonus, we let our guests take the cacti and potted flowers home.

Tacos and Tequila – Check, Check

There was a bit of an upset when it came to photographing the food part of this fiesta. We actually did have friends over to partake in our early Cinco madness, but no one wanted to wear real pants or makeup, so we agreed not to photograph them. Apparently Covid has really hurt the trouser and lipstick industries. Will we ever wear non-athleisure pants again? Who knows. But the girls did enjoy the comfort of elastic waist bands for this particular feast.

Tacos were our first priority, and we cooked up two options that were both easy to prepare in advance – Tacos of Carnitas and Carne Asada. Since we had these handy Taco Stands from Crate and Barrel, we also went overboard on the toppings since it made dressing the tacos so much easier.

We prepared an elaborate spread of Mango Jalapeño Salsa, Radish Salsa, Chimichurri and Roasted Tomato Salsa, plus all the usual suspects like crumbled Queso Fresco, salted avocado, and Mexican Crema. We also made two big bowls of Mexican Street Corn and Guacamole Salad, which also mostly ended up on chips or in tacos and some Churro Cupcakes for dessert.

But the real showstopper was the Modern Margarita. I go into great detail about this recipe in another post, but let’s just say there was no f***ing  sweet and sour mix used in the making of these proper cocktails. Fruit juice or bust is my motto when it comes to margs!

After a long afternoon tacos and tequila, we treated our guests to a little mid-fiesta recovery with Bite of The Chupacabra – a beet juice cocktail that isn’t gross and might have lessened the severity of our hangovers. I mean, beets are good for you. They have all those vitamins and things and offset the tequila. It’s science, right? Ok, maybe not entirely, but they were delicious and gave us the illusion of being healthy for a minute.

All in all, our early Cinco de Mayo party was a hit. Liz and I even lasted past midnight. So now it’s your turn. We’ve done all the leg work – so have fun. Salud!

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