Celebrating Cinco de Mayo Family Style

Fiesta time for Cinco de Mayo
It’s Fiesta time. Photo from http://catchmyparty.com

By Estelle Sobel Erasmus

What holiday that your kids will love is just around the corner? It’s Cinco de Mayo, a Mexican holiday that is always celebrated on May 5th. The holiday marks the victory of Mexican troops over French forces in Mexico back in 1862. Now that’s serious business. But but to your kids, Cinco de Mayo is simply heaps of fun.

Here are a few suggestions on turning up the holiday “heat” while giving the kids good stuff to eat at a kid-friendly fiesta, from Jillian Leslie, creator of www.catchmyparty.com.

Belly up to the (Taco) Bar: Toddlers (and kids who are picky eaters) will appreciate a make-your-own taco or quesadilla bar. Offer a choice of chicken or beef; set out all the fixings (shredded cheese, salsa, sour cream, nacho chips), have a few disposable bibs on hand, and let your guests assemble their own creations.

Picture Perfect: Set up a homemade photo booth using a Mexican blanket as a backdrop. For the most memorable photos, stock a basket with props such as sombreros, maracas, fake mustaches, and posters that set the scene.

Children’s No-Blame Games: Try playing pin the tail on the donkey, do a dance off to Mexican music, or have the kids try to break a piñata filled with candy or dime store toys.

Sweet Treat: For dessert, let them feast on a moist and delicious tres leche cake (translation: a “three milk cake”).

If you have searched in vain for an easy-to-make recipe for les leche cake, try this thirty-minute confection (recipe courtesy of www.MrFood.com) that serves 12 people. And get your kids to help.

Tres Leche Cake


  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 ten-ounce prepared angel food cake, cut into ½-inch slices
  • 1 can (5 ounces) evaporated milk


  1. In a medium-sized bowl, with an electric beater on medium speed, beat 1 1/2 cups heavy cream for 5 to 7 minutes, or until stiff peaks form. Add 3 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk; stir to mix well. Cover and chill for about 10 minutes.
  2. Place the cake slices in a 9″ x 13″ baking dish.
  3. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the evaporated milk and the remaining sweetened condensed milk and 1/2 cup cream. Pour over the cake slices and cover; allow the cake to absorb the mixture for about 15 minutes. Top the cake with the chilled whipped cream mixture and serve  immediately, or chill until ready to serve.

Adiós. Now Gimme Some Sugar: As a fun goodie to stick in the gift-bag for guests, bake a batch of about two-dozen sugar cookies and cut them into festive shapes, using cookie cutters shaped like maracas, sombreros or margarita glasses.

Sugar Cookie


  • 4 sticks of butter
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 3 eggs (2 for baking, 1 to use to brush on cookies)
  • 6 cups of flour
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder


  1. Preheat the oven to 375F degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together softened butter with sugar.
  3. Add vanilla extract, baking powder, eggs (one at a time), and salt.
  4. Mix ingredients together, then gradually add flour until blended.
  5. Roll the dough into a thin sheet (about ¼ inch-thick) on a lightly floured board.
  6. Cut into shapes with festive cookie cutters. Brush some egg on each cookie and sprinkle with colored sugar. Bake for 12 minutes. Remove from oven and place on wire racks to cool.

 What are you doing to celebrate Cinco de Mayo with your family?

12 thoughts on “Celebrating Cinco de Mayo Family Style”

  1. I love celebrating Cinco de Mayo, and the last two years, I’ve thrown a party in conjunction with my children’s First Communions. Unfortunately we have no First Communion next year, but I think I’m going to do it again. I LOVE Mexican food and cooking and entertaining and hanging with friends, so this is the perfect day for me. And tres leches? It’s not that hard to make 🙂
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  2. I am ADDICTED to tres leches cake. I try to save it for really special occasions because it’s so naughty for you. Now I have an excuse to make it on the 5th. 🙂
    Nicole @ One Punky Mama recently posted..{Giveaway} Windows 8 Surface ProMy Profile

    1. Hi Maria,
      I would be honored to share my post on your food frenzy link up. Coming over now.

  3. Thanks Paula. We are going to a Cinco de Mayo party this afternoon with make your own tacos and decorate your own sugar cookies, so it should be fun. That’s so funny re Mr. Food! Happy Cinco de Mayo to you and your family.

  4. I love these ideas! We are having make your own tacos tonight; it has been a favorite dinner since my kids were very young, and you are right, it does get them eating, and being creative with their food as well. The picture of your table is so festive, so inviting to a fun celebration of the holiday!
    I have to laugh that you shared a Mr. Food recipe. We from Upstate NY, where “Mr. Food” got his start on our local news, are very proud of him, and we miss him. Glad to see that his recipes live on and are traveling as well.
    Happy Cinco de Mayo to all!

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