If you love bold flavors and colors, then throwing a Mexican dinner party could be a perfect way to celebrate summer, Cinco de Mayo or just a fun Friday night at home. Ingredients for Mexican entrees can be relatively inexpensive and easy to prepare, and the decor motifs are bright and casual. Building your own fiesta from scratch is simple and fun. Let's look at five fast and easy ways you can add some "ole" to your Mexican meal.
If your guests are into the latest Latin soap operas (telenovelas), encourage them to attend your party as their favorite characters. The lurid plots, blatant scene stealing and over-the-top melodrama can lend a few laughs to your dinner party and give those fish tacos more spectacle than you ever imagined. Record a few episodes of everyone's favorite shows and play them on your flat screen. They're great conversation starters and can be muy caliente! While your guests are waiting for the big screen clinch, offer them some Pico de Gallo (fresh vegetable salsa), Classic Guacamole or Nachos Ole. Just tell them to save room for dinner.
Decorating your dining room with brightly colored fabrics, paper flowers, woven baskets, sombreros, tooled leather accessories, serapes (capes) and even pinatas can give your meal a fiesta feel -- even in the middle of winter. Tune the radio to a Latin music station (you can find a number of them online) and you have all the fun of a mariachi band without the expense. If you need a little help finding the perfect table decorations, most party stores stock Mexican-themed plates, cups and tablecloths -- at least around Cinco de Mayo (May 5th). Be sure to stock up.
Mexican menu items like burritos, quesadillas and tacos are easy do-it-yourself cuisine. You can cook the meat, rice and beans, set out the toppings, and then sit back and watch everyone else do the work. If you think entertaining is more about socializing than slaving in the kitchen, this may be the best party you ever hosted. Mexican chain restaurants that specialize in making mammoth burritos filled with loads of ingredients (you can probably think of a few off the top of your head) have made what we like to call "mixed media" burritos really popular, so even Uncle Barney will probably know and like the concept. If this sounds like fun but you can't find large flour tortillas at your market, local Mexican restaurants sometimes sell packages of oversized tortillas to customers on request.
If the guys are getting together, nothing says "I'm so bad" better than eating a jalapeno or habanero pepper without whining. If you think your friends have what it takes (and even if you don't), pick up an assortment of pickled or fresh hot peppers and commence to testing your tolerance for pain. Actually, the heat is in the pepper's whitish veins and seeds, so remove them first if you want to keep the proceedings civilized.
There are some cautions we should mention here: If things get too hot, water isn't a heat quencher. Try downing milk instead. Always wear latex or rubber gloves when handling hot peppers, too. The juice can be absorbed into your skin and transferred to other tender parts of your body, like your eyes, if you're not careful. Never play this game with children, and avoid biting off more than you can chew, literally. Try a small bite first, and abort the plan if visions of fire extinguishers flash before your eyes.
Mexican food was made for open air dining. Much of it is finger food, and a few runaway beans making a break for it across your lawn or deck are no big problem. It will be easier to organize a pinata bashing event outdoors, which, let's face it, is a very nice way to let off steam. There's something nice about decorating with all those yellows, reds and other bright colors against a background of blue sky, too. If you set up outside, you can also use pretty, inexpensive colored lanterns for illumination. They're romantic and can help keep the party mellow long into the night. Add a margarita or some Mexican beer, and you have the makings for a perfect casual meal with good friends.
In order to have a party, you first need to invite some guests. Here is a great way to personalize and hand-deliver your dinner party invitations.
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