September is the perfect time to celebrate Mexican history and heritage with a big fiestas patrias bash. Who needs downtown parades, floats, and mariachi bands when you can dazzle your guests with an array of appetizing food, delicious drinks, and festive tricolor decorations at home?!
Traditionally, the fiestas patrias celebrations begin on the evening of September 15 and continue into the following day, the Día de la Independencia. The reason for this is that on September 15, 1810, Father Miguel Hidalgo issued an appeal for social and economic reform and demanded the end of Spanish rule. This appeal was known as the Grito de Dolores and it marked the beginning of the War of Independence. Every September 15, as the clock strikes midnight, you can visit any town square, or zócalo, in Mexico, and hear the cry, “Viva México! Viva México! Viva México!”.
To mark the occasion, invite your friends and family to join you in a celebration of Mexican culture and tradition. These suggestions for food, drinks, and decorations will help you plan your own unforgettable fiestas patrias party.
First, set a date and make your guest list. Then, find an appropriate evite or design your own invitation and send it about two weeks before the party. You may have to make follow-up calls to finalize your RSVP list so you can plan sufficient amounts of food and drink.
This takes a bit of planning, but there’s no need to stress out! Make as much as you can before the big party, or — even better — enlist the help of family members and friends, turning communal cooking into a pre-party celebration! Serve traditional Mexican dishes like chicken tostadas, pozole, chiles en nogada, chicken with mole poblano, or tamales. Recreate the Mexican flag with avocado, mozzarella and tomato skewers. Serve guacamole with a twist: use Parmesan chips instead of tortilla chips. Surprise your guests with a fancy grilled avocado bar that will make everyone jealous of your flair for entertaining. What about adding a taco bar as well? Place dishes with cooked chicken and beef, beans, taco shells, chopped tomato and lettuce, cheese, salsa, and sour cream so your guests can mix and match. Playing with food is totally acceptable.
Who doesn’t love a mesa dulce, a dessert bar? Make a few favorites, like flan, dark chocolate avocado brownies, and pastel de tres leches. Don’t forget Mexican cookies, which are always a favorite.
A Mexican party is not a party without margaritas. Make pitchers of different flavored margaritas, like watermelon or hibiscus. A paloma (top-shelf tequila mixed with Mexican grapefruit soda) goes down well, too. Arrange sliced limes, salt, and shot glasses for hardcore guests who prefer to do shots. Stock up on Mexican sodas, horchata, and fruity aguas frescas for the younger ones and for those who pass on the alcoholic drinks.
Your house has to feel festive as well. To achieve a truly Mexican ambiance, hang colorful papel picado banners and fairy lights. You can buy papel picado or make it yourself with tissue paper, a craft punch, and string. Have kids? Get them involved in the party prep by giving them materials and instructions for this simpler version of papel picado.
Since the dahlia is the national flower of Mexico, get a few bunches and place them strategically around the house. They’ll brighten any corner. Use a brightly colored sarape as a table runner and intersperse small clay pots with cacti among the food dishes. Don’t forget the centerpiece of any self-respecting Mexican party: a piñata! (And of course, it should be filled with delicious Mexican candies).
Play traditional music in the background. If you don’t have any Mexican tunes in your own collection, cue up a list on Pandora or Spotify. Later, pump up the volume to get the party in full swing and invite your guests to sing and dance into the small hours.
Whether it’s a formal or informal shindig, work the national colors –white, red, and green- into your outfit. You may even want to supply fake mustaches and oversized sombreros to guests!
¡Que viva México!