This weekend my family and I celebrated our patriarch’s 98th birthday – a true blessing. The Mexican-themed fiesta was a collaborative effort between the children, grandchildren and family friends of Candelario Moreno. It was a joyous occasion where friends and family traveled near and far from both the US and Mexico to come and celebrate my Abuelito (grandfather) Candelario Moreno’s 98 years of life.
The fiesta took place in Weslaco, Texas which resides in the Rio Grande Valley. If you are hosting your own Mexican-themed fiesta, I wanted to share my recommended must have’s for your next party including inspiration for a gorgeous cake, cookies, candy, photo frame, photo props and a kick-ass Pineapple-Mango Salsa recipe.
The first essential in any Mexican-themed fiesta is color and lots of it! Pinterest has a lot of wonderful ideas that inspired the cake I ordered for the auspicious event. To view my fiesta-inspired board, visit Mexican Fiesta Ideas. In my opinion, the birthday cake is the centerpiece of the party. I found the perfect image on Pinterest and asked Sweet & Tasty Bakery in McAllen, TX to create a design inspired by the image. I was amazed at the bakery’s impeccable replication. In addition to the design, I requested that each of the three cake tiers have a different flavor and color to coincide with the Mexican Flag (green, white and red). The flavors were pistachio, almond and strawberry, respectively.
One of the iconic images in Mexico, in my opinion, is the Lotería Mexicana. Lotería is similar to Bingo and has 54 images – each with a name and an assigned number, but the number is usually ignored in the game. My sister found an awesome bakery, Cookie Place and Sweets, in Pharr, TX that creates beautiful sugar cookies with Lotería Mexicana images. Two beautiful iced sugar cookies with different Lotería images are carefully packaged and sealed and were a lovely addition to the dessert table. When creating a dessert table, I recommend providing a small assortment of various goodies. We had close to 100 guests RSVP for the party, but we also had several other drop-ins in addition to that number. It is not cost efficient ordering 100 cookies, however, a small sampling should be sufficient for guests to take one item from a varied assortment of multiple goodies that can include cookies, candies, and Chili-Chamoy Apples.
What are Chili-Chamoy Apples? Well, that is the Mexican version of a Candy Apple. We ordered these popular apples from Cookie Place and Sweets . Chamoy is a very popular Mexican condiment that may range from a liquid to a paste consistency, and its flavor profile ranges from salty, sweet, sour, and spicy-hot. The condiment is typically drizzled on fruit or used to create a candy paste. My favorite use of Chamoy is drizzling the liquid form on mangoes. The most unusual use of Chamoy I have seen is soaking the liquid form in Gummi Bears – which was a huge party hit with the kids and adults. Chili-Chamoy Apples are covered with a Chili-Chamoy paste and are beautifully wrapped and tied with a red bow. As mentioned with the cookies, we did not order 100 apples, rather just a dozen. The intent is to provide a small sampling of various delights so that guests can choose one item among the varied assortment of goodies.
One of my favorite DIY items that my sister created are the candy bags decorated with Lotería images. All you need are colorful gift bags, a Lotería set, glue gun and glue sticks. I suggest using Red, White and Green Bags to coordinate with the Mexican Flag, however, you can also incorporate other bold colors for added variety. One Lotería set is sufficient to create 74 bags, since all Lotería sets will have a 54 card deck and most should have 20 boards.
You cannot have candy bags with out legit Mexican candy. I loved helping set up the candy table at my grandfather’s party. Although we were celebrating my grandfather, we had a lot of children that were guests. To ensure that the kiddo’s also have fun, we have a piñata and a candy table for the children. The reason we have a candy table, candy bags and a piñata is to ensure that each child at the minimum walks away with one candy bag. Examples of traditional Mexican candies on our Mexican fiesta candy table included: Tamarind Candy, Strawberry and Hazelnut Duvalin, Canel’s Gum, de la Rosa marzipan peanut candy, La Vaquita milk caramel lollipops, Sabritas peanuts, Rebanaditas – watermelon chili lollipops, and the very popular Takis tortilla chips. For extra personalization, you can also add the birthday boy or girl’s name, birthdate or age on the candy bag. In addition to the candy bags and candy inside the piñata, we provide a spread of various Mexican candies on the table – which adds a festive detail. Since each child attending the party should have one candy bag and will likely get more candies from the piñata, the assortment is available for both children and adults to grab one or two additional sweet treats during the party.
For added fun and color when capturing memories at your next fiesta, I suggest ordering a photo frame from Creative Union Design and Mexican-themed photo props from BigDotofHappiness. Though not necessary, these definitely add color and spice to your photos. Creative Union Design was not familiar with the concept of Lotería, but that did not stop the shop from coming back with this incredible design after researching the Mexican game. An electronic image of the photo frame was created and I worked with Imaginart Print-Design in Mcallen, TX to print the photo frame. Btw, the kiddo’s love the photo frame and photo props, too, including my niece – pictured below.
Another must have for your Mexican-themed fiesta is the Mexican food, of course! We were blessed to have a bounty of food that included Mexican-style carne asada (BBQ), smoked brisket, Mexican rice, frijoles charros, potato salad, tamales, guacamole and plenty of salsa’s. One of my favorite items for any fiesta or when I cook Mexican food at home is my Pineapple-Mango Salsa. It was one of my most requested recipes. To see the recipe, visit http://www.fooddiaryofacitygirl.com/?s=pineapple.
Another essential at any Mexican-themed party is the music. The Mexican music genre varies from region to region in Mexico and in the US. We have Mexican Pop, Mexican Cumbia, Tejano, Grupera, Huapango, Corrido, Norteño, Ranchera – just to name a few, because, yes – there are many more genres. These are the most popular genre’s that the Moreno Family listens to and will have playing at parties. The day of my grandfather’s party, we had a Mariachi Band and a husband and wife duo who interpreted popular music that spanned these eight genres. The music was key in fueling a festive night of dancing and singing – because yes, we had a couple of family members take the mike to sing with the band.
A Mexican-themed fiesta gives you the opportunity to sport your best traditional Mexican embroidered clothing from tops to dresses to more elaborate clothing. Pictured below, Gabrielle and I are wearing traditional cotton hand embroidered blouses. In the following photo, my niece wears a traditional hand stitched Chiapan dress from Artesanias y Curiosidades Angelita from Chiapa de Corzo, Chiapas, Mexico.
Other than celebrating my grandfather’s 98th birthday, I completely enjoyed every step of helping coordinate, cook and set up at the fiesta. Have you ever had a Mexican or Latin themed fiesta? I would love to know what are your fiesta must-haves. Be sure to share in the comments section. Special thanks to my cousins Cindy Selle, Gabrielle Sustaita and Jorge Luis Moreno for sharing their photos from the party. If you live in Texas or have family in Texas that is in need of a photographer, my cousin Jorge Luis Moreno is a professional. To view his work, visit his page at https://www.facebook.com/moreno.j.luis.