Cinco de Mayo is just around the corner, and if you’re looking for an excuse to host a spring fiesta, this is it. In the United States, Cinco de Mayo has evolved into a celebration of Mexican-American culture and heritage. Though the date commemorates the Mexican Army’s victory over the undefeated forces of the French—then considered the greatest military in the world—at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, many in the United States celebrate Cinco de Mayo with Mexican cuisine and drinks, dancing, and fun.

So, why not toast the occasion as you kick off the month of bloom? Here are several great ways to make your Cinco de Mayo celebration with neighbors and friends awesome and festive:

Decorate it up. Drape banners of papel picado, a Mexican tissue paper, throughout your home and outdoor space and hang a candy-filled piñata or two from your trees or a light post. Place a sombrero on a sturdy candlestick and fill the rim with chips, setting bowls of different types of salsa all around for a tasty salsa bar. Fill glass bowl centerpieces with colorful and different sized peppers. Get creative! A visit to Pinterest and your local party store should give you plenty of inspiration.

Hire a mariachi band. Nothing makes a Cinco de Mayo party like traditional mariachi music. Mariachi bands can include as many as 15 musicians who play violins, trumpets, guitars, and other instruments, sing, and wear traditional dress. If hiring a band isn’t in the budget, you can always make a playlist of mariachi or Mexican music.

Serve delicious bites. Whether you’re planning to serve dinner or appetizers, a Cinco de Mayo party should include plenty of tasty foods. Go traditional with chilaquiles, pozole, elote (grilled corn on the cob), mole, chips and guacamole, and carne adobada. Take it Tex-Mex with mini chimichangas, chili con carne, burritos, and nachos. Or let your guests decide, inviting them to bring their favorite Mexican drink or dish (margaritas are obviously a menu must). Don’t forget the churros and flan for dessert!

Dress up for the fun. Customary Mexican clothing is bright and colorful, so consider adding some flair to your affair with your attire. Encourage guests to dress up too, wearing the colors of the Mexican flag: red, white, and green. How about a contest for the best or biggest sombrero?

Dance it up. If your guests are up for it, why not liven up your party with a dance lesson? Search for a local dance instructor who could teach your guests the samba, salsa, meringue, rumba, or another Mexican or Latin dance. If the weather is mild, string your outdoor space with lights or lanterns and make it an outdoor dance party.

Include a piñata ceremony. No Cinco de Mayo party would be complete without a ceremonial smashing of the piñata! Pinatas have long been considered the highlight activity for birthday, Christmas, and of course, Cinco de Mayo parties. Traditional Mexican pinatas are often filled with seasonal fruit and candies, but you can find them in your local party store filled with toys and other goodies, too.

May is full of color and beauty and the perfect time of year for hosting. Cinco de Mayo is a lively holiday with lots of possibilities for food and entertainment. Start planning now and have fun with it! You may have such a good time that you’ll want to make it an annual tradition!

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