Ole! What better way to tell your child “feliz cumpleanos” than with an authentic Mexican fiesta? Fiestas are wonderful birthday parties filled with fun games to play, crafts to make, music to sing and dance to and delicious food. Parents love them because they are adaptable, easy to put together and can be celebrated indoors or out all the year round. You can even integrate popular characters like Dora and Diego!
Fiesta Party Invitations
You will want to choose the perfect invitation to let your guests know about the party. Fortunately, Mexican fiestas are very popular and there are many fun and colorful designs in which to choose. You can even send a personalized photo invitation with an adorable picture of your child in clothes to fit the theme, like a peasant dress on a girl or poncho and sombrero on a boy.
When composing the text, mix in a few simple Spanish words and phrases. For example, “fiesta de cumpleanos” means “birthday party,” “ninas y ninos” means “girls and boys” and “Sábado” means “Saturday.” You can even address your guests by the Spanish versions of their names, such as “Juan” for “John” and “María” for “Mary.” There are many books and websites when you can find Spanish phrases and translations. Just be sure your wording is clear enough for your guests to know what you’re saying!
Fiesta Party Decorations
Choose balloons in red, white and green, the colors of the Mexican flag. Orange, yellow, turquoise and black are great colors for streamers and tableware to fit the theme. Find festive fiesta striped blankets, tablecloths and curtains and hang paper cut-outs of Mexican imagery and travel posters of South-of-the-Border scenery on the walls. Strings of Christmas or chili pepper lights are a great touch as well as real or artificial poinsettias, camellias, sunflowers and other brightly colored flowers. Most of these decorations can be found at party or import stores as well as Latin markets. Don’t worry if they don’t match, that’s only part of the charm!
Let your guests know they’ve found the right house by hanging a sombrero and Mexican flag or striped blanket on the door, as well as a balloon and streamer bouquet and a banner reading “Feliz Cumpleanos.” If you want to dress the part, wear a Mexican-style fiesta dress with a flower in your hair and greet them with “bienvenudo, mi casa es su casa” as they enter!
Fiesta Party Activities
Could there be a more appropriate party for a pinata? Buy a pinata in the shape of your child’s favorite animal or cartoon character and fill with candy and trinkets like costume jewelry and foil-covered coins. Blindfold the children and let them take turns whacking it… Give them plenty of room and do it in a safe place! If it is a large party you may want to have several pinatas on hand so that everyone gets a turn, and if the guests are younger pull-string pinatas are an appropriate alternative.
It’s not a fiesta without music and dancing! Give your guests maracas, plastic horns and hand clappers and have them dance along to mariachi or salsa music. Don’t worry about getting the moves right, just encourage the children to clap to the beat and make a lot of noise. You can turn it into a game by suddenly starting and stopping the music; the last one moving is “out,” but they can still clap along on the sidelines. Keep going until you have a winner!
A fiesta is a great time for a Spanish lesson. Prepare flash cards or print-outs of pictures labeled with simple Spanish words like “hola” and “adios” as well as food items and basic numbers. Encourage your guests to use Spanish throughout the party!
Fiesta Party Crafts
Crafts are always a great way to keep your party guests busy. Not only that, they are very educational and a fun way to learn about another culture.
Girls will enjoy making tissue paper flowers to wear in their hair or on their wrists. Layer tissue paper of different colors together and fold like a fan. Wrap a pipe cleaner “stem” around the center, and pull the paper part until it looks like a blossoming flower.
Kids will love to make their own maracas! Glue together empty yogurt containers or paper cups and fill with dried beans. You can also use plastic bottles or paper bags tied at the end. Use a dowel or stick for the handle and let the kids decorate with paints, stickers and ribbons. You may wish to do this earlier in the party so the kids have maracas for the musical games.
Get sheets of strong paper, plastic or fabric for your guests to decorate. Cut a head-sized hole in the center and the children can wear them as ponchos. Weave simple baskets with strips of construction paper, or make a macrame wall hanging with twine or yard, wooden beads and sticks. You can also provide each child with a small terra cotta flower pot to decorate with Mexican designs using non-toxic paints. Along with a packet of seeds to grow, these make wonderful take-home gifts.
Fiesta Party Refreshments
Before your guests arrive set out a variety of exotic Mexican candies in exotic flavors like tamarind, mango and chili-coated orange. The kids may not like them all, but they will be fascinated!
You will also want to provide plenty of chips and salsa as appetizers. Many kids don’t like spicy foods, so make sure mild salsa is an option. There’s nothing like homemade guacamole, so make it yourself instead of buying it at the store. For a healthy treat you may also want to serve fruit kebabs on skewers or pretzel sticks, or tropical fruit salad in clear plastic cups, garnished with paper umbrella.
Drinks should be along the line of fruit juice or lemonade along with delicious Mexican drinks like horchata or aguas frescas. You may be able to find these at your supermarket and recipes are easy to find online.
A buffet is your best bet for the main course. Provide soft and hard-shell tortillas, cheese, beans and meat, sour cream, tomatoes, lettuce and sauce so your guests can make tacos and burritos to their liking. If the children are young you should assemble their meals for them, but still let them choose their own ingredients. If you have the time to prepare, the kids will also love enchiladas, Mexican pizza and loaded nachos!
Bake or buy a birthday cake in the shape of a sombrero or cactus. Serve with traditional Mexican deserts like sopaipillas, churros, flan, and, best of all, fried ice cream. When it’s time to blow out the candles sing “Happy Birthday” in Spanish. The tune is the same, just repeat “feliz cumpleanos a ti” instead!
After the Fiesta Party
Tell your guests “muchas gracias” by sending them home with goody bags. Find paper party bags with fiesta stripes, or decorate simple lunch sacks with Mexican-themed stickers and the children’s names in Spanish. Fill with Mexican candies, chocolates, mini maracas, plastic jewelry and stickers and sticker books. Simple Spanish phrase books or flash cards make wonderful as well as educational gifts, and the kids will love classic toys like jump ropes, paddle-ball or ball-in-cup games, fingers cuffs and puzzles. Don’t forget to take plenty of pictures of your little amigos to send with personalized thank you notes!