Hosting Tips

A Garden Inspired Cinco de Mayo Party

¡Vamos a la fiesta!

By Jenn Rose Smith
garden inspired cinco de mayo party at the camille styles bungalow

I’ve developed a little love affair with Mexico, and have traveled there 7 times in the past few years. So when Camille asked me to design this year’s Cinco de Mayo celebration, I couldn’t wait to get started. For those who aren’t familiar with the holiday, it began in honor of the Mexican Army’s unlikely victory at the Battle of Puebla in 1862.

These days “Cinco” is all about celebrating Mexican culture, and we get especially into it here in Texas (where Mexican culture is a huge part of our state culture.) This particular fiesta is also noteworthy because it was the first ever celebration in our CS Bungalow backyard space! Scroll down to see how my travels inspired our party, and the insanely gorgeous meal Camille created to go with it. Delicioso!

I wanted to transform our backyard space into an oasis reminiscent of the hidden gardens in San Miguel. Our resident green thumb, Chanel, helped out by bringing all of our indoor plants outdoors for the party.

I’ve collected lots of small souvenirs from my trips to Mexico, including postcards, prayer beads, palo santo, beeswax candles and more. Even the paper money in Mexico is beautiful and colorful. I wanted to use all of these things to inspire this year’s Cinco celebration.

These rustic tin plates with scalloped edges reminded me of something you might see at an upscale restaurant in Mexico City, where the presentation of food is practically theater. I put a Mexican milagro, or small charm, on each plate as a party favor. Milagros are very special religious charms which are totally unique to Mexico. You can read more about them and their mystical powers here.

During Dia de los Muertos in Oaxaca, people scatter the petals of marigolds on the ground creating paths that lead the spirits of their ancestors to their respective altars. We decided to put our own springtime twist on the tradition by using peach colored rose petals to scatter on the ground and on our table.

I’d been saving my new pair white leather Lucchese boots for a special occasion. (Lucchese is one of the oldest, most authentic bootmakers in Texas, so it only seemed fitting to break them in at a Cinco de Mayo bash!)

Our production assistant Megan whipped up a batch of colorful hibiscus margaritas for our fiesta. We’ll be sharing her original recipe soon, so stay tuned!

One of the best things I picked up in Todos Santos is the tradition of burning palo santo before dinner. Palo santo (or “holy stick”) is a wild tree native to Mexico. The wood is used mostly for carving small objects, creating essential oil, and burning as a natural incense. I’m obsessed with the scent, which is somehow woodsy, sexy, and beachy all at once.

Chanel in her ruffled dress from Zayan the Label — could it be more perfect?

Camille brought out roasted beet tostadas with avocado crema, goat cheese and pepitas for the table. She wore a pretty wrap dress in dusty purple from Mirth.

My mom and I are both way into collecting Catholic religious artifacts, and she let me borrow her beautiful Virgin Mary for our party. The prayer candles are from a company an old Mexican company called Santa Rosa, where they still make the candles by hand in San Miguel. Each one is stamped with their signature gold seal. I love these candles so much I could barely bring myself to light them! But when it’s time to fiesta, it’s time to fiesta.

Camille served rustic Mexican street corn slathered in a mayo/cotija sauce. Always a crowd pleaser!

Our menu for the evening:

Roasted Beet Tostadas with Avocado Crema, Goat Cheese & Pepitas

Cabbage and Radish Slaw

Rustic Mexican Street Corn

Cheers to all the things we love about Mexican culture (and to planning more Mexico beach trips!) Todos this summer, anyone?