Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in the US and parts of Mexico, primarily in the state of Puebla, where it’s called El Día de la Batalla de Puebla.
In the US, Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of Mexican heritage and culture, whereas in Mexico, it’s primarily a celebration of the May 5, 1862 victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla.
First becoming popular in California, Cinco de Mayo spread first to cities with larger Mexican-American populations, and eventually to the rest of the nation.
A Cinco de Mayo party usually includes great food, drinks, and music, which you can easily plan without spending a lot of money.
Here’s how you can throw your own Cinco de Mayo party and make the most of this fun celebration that arrives during one of the loveliest times of the year.
Sure, you can invite people over social media and not spend anything, but if you want to send out actual invitations by mail, you can do so on the cheap.
Dollar stores are great for things like this, but if you don’t find a style you like, it’s easy to make your own colorful and festive party invitations with a rubber stamp, crepe paper, and blank notecards.
If you can hand-deliver invitations, you can make cute piñata-themed invitations that really stand out.
One way to have a feast without spending a lot is to have a potluck party.
You can supply a main dish and drinks, and have guests bring sides, finger foods, and desserts.
If you want to do the cooking yourself, one crowd pleaser that isn’t too expensive is nachos with 7-layer bean dip.
Cheddar cheese is the most expensive ingredient, and you can easily serve 20 while spending around $40 if you buy some of the ingredients in bulk.
Setting up a taco bar is relatively inexpensive and lets guests serve themselves custom tacos.
You’ll need to supply soft tortillas and hard shells, ground beef or chicken, cheese, lettuce, sour cream, guacamole, salsa, chips, and refried beans.
Mexican wedding cookies make a terrific, portable dessert, and they’re inexpensive and easy to make.
Tip: Creating a budget with Mint can help you plan for entertainment expenses without breaking the bank. Click to get started.
If you plan to have margaritas for the adults, you can make basic margaritas by the pitcher, or in smaller quantities.
Be sure to have plenty of soft drinks, punch, and / or water for kids and non-drinkers, because Mexican food can really kick up a thirst.
Buying party supplies like paper plates, plastic ware, napkins, and cups can be cost-effective if you buy from a warehouse store like Costco or Sam’s Club.
You can also pick up some of the foods you’ll need in bulk, like cheese, salsa, and refried beans while you’re there.
Dollar stores can be great sources for decorations like streamers and balloons.
Even if they don’t have specific Cinco de Mayo-themed decorations, you can get a great look buy choosing simple decorations in bright, summery colors.
You can make your own piñata if you’re even somewhat crafty. Brit + Co has a number of relatively easy DIY piñata ideas, including a luscious piñata cake and piñata cupcakes, plus ideas for piñata-theme decorations.
You could make one large piñata, or multiple mini-piñatas out of facial tissue boxes.
Music for Your Cinco de Mayo Party
If you don’t have enough Cinco de Mayo-appropriate music on your iPod or MP3 player, you can get playlist ideas here and here.
You can also make your own YouTube playlist by following this instructional video, hook up your computer to your best speakers, and provide music that way.
Keep in mind that Cinco de Mayo falls on a Monday this year, so you probably won’t be partying too late into the evening.
If you’ve always wanted to have a Cinco de Mayo party, maybe this is your year.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to give friends and family a lovely evening, and as party food goes, it’s hard to beat Mexican.
When you manage your budget using a great app like Mint, you can easily add line items for special events like parties, so you can make the absolute most of your party budget.
Stay on budget by tracking entertainment expenses now. Click to get started.
Mary Hiers is a personal finance writer who helps people earn more and spend less.