Cinco de Mayo has become a favorite, festive time of year for many people. Here are a few ways to celebrate Cinco de Mayo at home. First, you need the history of Cinco de Mayo to know what you’re celebrating. Then, whether you’re looking for Cinco de Mayo party food, Cinco de Mayo crafts, or decorations, this is your full guide to having a fun Cinco de Mayo celebration with the kids!
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Cinco de Mayo History for Kids
In 1862, French soldiers went to battle against the Zapotec southeast of Mexico City. The Zapotec force didn’t have many weapons or armor, especially compared to what the French came with. On May 5, 1862 at the Battle of Puebla (a town in the southern part of Mexico), General Zaragoza led his people against the French. Even though the French had twice as many soldiers as Zaragoza did, the Mexican soldiers were victorious. This was a huge symbol of the strength of Mexico and their power of resistance. Fighting continued for years until the French were completely driven out, but the Battle of Puebla remained symbolic and is now celebrated as Cinco de Mayo.
Cinco de Mayo is not a celebration of Mexican independence day, as often thought. It celebrates the Battle of Puebla. To this day, Puebla still celebrates and commemorates this battle with parades and reenactments. The rest of Mexico does not take as much notice to the holiday, however.
Cinco de Mayo is actually celebrated more in the US than in most of Mexico. Around 500 cities in Mexico celebrate, but the largest celebration actually happens in Los Angeles, CA. Almost 100 years ago, Mexican immigrants in the US began celebrating Cinco de Mayo as a way to honor their heritage and remember their strength. Cinco de Mayo is a day not only to celebrate the victorious Battle of Puebla, but to celebrate Mexican traditions and pride.
Now you know the real history of Cinco de Mayo!
Encyclopedia Britannica Online;
Cinco de Mayo; Hall, M.C., Rourke Publishing 2011 (a simple children’s book you can purchase here)
Cinco de Mayo; Carr, Aaron; AV2 by Weigl Publishing 2015 (another simple children’s book you can purchase here)
These books may also be available at your local library.
Decorations for Cinco de Mayo
Make the space fun and festive for Cinco de Mayo. Colorful decorations can set the whole tone to your family having a fun night full of tradition. From place settings to decor, here are a few fun picks of decorations for Cinco de Mayo. Kids will especially enjoy the photo props 🙂
Other fun decorations might include a scenery backdrop for great photo-ops, a fun Cinco de Mayo game for the kids, or there cute Cinco de Mayo headbands. My kids love getting prizes and dress-up supplies to get festive!
We’ve been to parties where a piñata is hung and the kids can take a whack at it. Piñatas are always fun fo the kids 🙂 Browse for a festive piñata and then fill it with candy!
Cinco de Mayo Party Food
One of the most fun parts of a Cinco de Mayo party is the food. You could create a variety of dishes to serve, and the best part is that most Cinco de Mayo food is kid-friendly! My kids love tacos, rice, beans, and chips. Here’s what we prepared for Cinco de Mayo:
- Chicken Tacos, using this slow-cook chicken recipe from Chef in Training. I added shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, and cheese for optional toppings.
- Black Beans from Food Love
- Rice from Lil Luna (technically Spanish rice, but it goes really well and tastes really good)
- Homemade Pico from Luci’s Morsels (this was a huge hit. This pico is the best!)
- Guacamole (I smash a ton of avocados, add salt and lime and a big scoop of the pico listed above. SO GOOD!)
- Tres Leches Cake from Berly’s Kitchen – I had a few requests for this recipe afterward! If you’ve never had tres leches “three milks” cake, you are missing out!
This was a delicious menu for Cinco de Mayo. We were all stuffed afterwards. The kids loved everything and so did the adults.
Planning the Food for Cinco de Mayo
Gather all the ingredients you need. I recommend buying everything a couple days early, as you will need ripe avocados. I bought my ingredients just a day before, and they were rock hard. Luckily one of my guests had a bunch and brought some so we could have guacamole.
First you’ll want to get the chicken started in the late morning. The recipe says to slow-cook it for 5 hours on low, but I always cook meat 6-8 hours. For the chicken you simply dump all the ingredients in and walk away. Six-eight hours later, come back and shred it.
After you get the chicken started, start on the Tres Leches cake. You need to cook the cake (from a box mix, making it much easier) and give it enough time to cool. Then make the 3-milks mixture and pour it over once the cake is cool. Then whip fresh cream for the topping. I made my cake early in the day and it held up just fine covered in the fridge all day until it was served. I also added a strawberry on top because the original recipe had that in the photos and it looked so pretty.
Next you’ll want to get the pico made. The pico can also sit in the fridge all day and taste great at dinner-time. In fact, the lime really soaks and flavors everything as it sits.
Then, with an hour-and-a-half before dinner, start the rice and then beans. Both are pretty simple to make, but the rice does take time to simmer.
Just before dinner, smash up the avocados and add some salt and lime, to taste. Then add a big scoop of the pico de gallo for the perfect guacamole!
It sounds like a lot, but everything was pretty simple to make. It’s convenient that somethings (cake, chicken, pico) can be made ahead so you don’t feel so rushed right at game time.
Cinco de Mayo Games for Kids
As mentioned above, kids love piñatas! Who wouldn’t love getting to whack something over and over and being rewarded with candy? Here are a few more fun games to try:
- Piñata- take a whack at busting open the piñata and being rewarded with candy
- Pin-the-tail-on-the-llama– the winner is whoever gets the tail closest to the correct spot while blindfolded
- Cactus Ring toss- bring in the desert and try to score points as you toss the ring
- Cinco de Mayo Bingo- print out these free cards from Simply Today Life
Where Can You Buy a Piñata?
Amazon is an obvious choice. They have plenty of fun options and you can throw a big bulk bag of candy in your virtual cart while you’re there.
Walmart also sells piñatas on their party aisles. Or, if you have a Party America or Party City near you, they will have piñatas as well.
Amazon has the most options though, so if you’re looking for something specific, I would head there.
Cinco de Mayo Crafts for Kids
Shaker/noise maker craft for kids
This Cinco de Mayo craft is easy and you probably already have the supplies on hand for the kids to make it. And don’t worry, it doesn’t make that much noise. All you’ll need is:
- a cardboard toilet paper tube
- uncooked rice or uncooked beans
- Bright papers (or markers)
- Packing Tape
- Glue Stick
First, cut out lots of pieces of colorful paper into about 1-inch pieces. Any shape is fine.
Then, the child can use the glue stick to glue these papers all over the toilet paper tube.
Next, cover one end of the toilet paper tube with a piece of packing tape. Then, cover with another piece going the opposite direction (so making a criss-cross with the tape). The adult should do this part, and make sure the tape is securely adhered and covering the end of the tube.
Take about 3-4 tablespoons of rice and put it into the tube. Then cover the other end with tape as well.
Your child now has a fun little noise-maker (and you’ve provided a fun craft and toy that doesn’t actually make that much noise!)
Tip: These won’t last forever, so make sure to toss them before they get worn down or else you’ll have rice everywhere! But, they are fun for a short evening of celebration.
Cinco de Mayo for Kids
After sharing the background of Cinco de Mayo and why it is celebrated, the kids will love being able to dress up, play, and eat some great foods to celebrate this Mexican holiday.
Will you be throwing a Cinco de Mayo Family Party this year?
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