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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Ideas for "los niños"

Are you planning a family event, and want some ideas to keep some of the kids occupied?  How about providing some worksheets?  I've developed a few.  Please feel free to use them!

Crossword Key
Word Scramble (answers: Cinco de Mayo, Mexico, battle, red, green, white, flag, French, general, Napoleon, Viva Mexico, year)
Word Search

Coloring Pages:
Mexican flag coloring page
Cinco de Mayo coloring page
Cactus coloring page
Mariachi band coloring page
Donkey coloring page
Cinco de Mayo sombrero coloring page
Cinco de Mayo feast coloring page

Cinco de Mayo visor  (place a rubber band or string through the holes, to complete)

I'm also working on some craft ideas.  Stay tuned.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Finishing the decorations...

As promised (but a little late, sorry, my family and I took an impromptu long weekend trip), here are a few more decoration ideas.

Papel Picado

Things You'll Need:
  • Piece of computer paper
  • Multiple sheets of colored tissue paper
  • Scissors
  • Razor knife
  • String
  • Glue stick
First, trim your tissue paper down to the size of a standard piece of paper-8 ½ inches by 11 inches.  Stack two or three pieces of tissue paper on top of one another, then place the stack on top of a piece of computer paper. The computer paper gives the tissue paper stability.

Fold the stack of paper down the middle with the computer paper facing out. Fold it again at the edge of the paper to keep the papers contained. Keep the stack folded as you work: this is what will create a symmetrical design on the finished paper.

If you want, you can sketch a drawing of what you want your papel picado design to look like onto the piece of computer paper so that you will have a pattern to follow.

Begin to cut out your design. Use scissors for cutting out large holes and other less intricate designs.  Implement a razor knife when cutting out fine details in your design. Apply enough pressure to go through all the layers without tearing up the delicate tissue paper.   
  • Savvy Tip:  Place the tissue paper on the top of an old magazine.  This way you can apply enough pressure, and not worry about what surface you are working on.

Flatten out the stack of papers after you are finished cutting. Carefully remove the piece of computer paper to reveal your beautiful design on the tissue paper beneath.

Once you have created a dozen or so of these, it's time to string them up.  Line the designs on a flat surface, spaced about an inch apart.  Lay a piece of string across the top of the tissue paper design.  Fold over about an inch of the top, and glue to itself. 

Paper Rose Buds

Another idea you can use, is paper rose buds.  After my son's class had made a few of the tradition flowers, their super creative teachers started playing around with the tissue and pipe cleaners and came up with:

Start with a stack of 6 pieces of long, skinny strips of tissue:
Place your pipe cleaner at the edge of the paper, and just start rolling.  Stay taunt at first, and then loosen the roll as you come to the end.
Secure the rose to pipe cleaner, but twisting it along the bottom of the paper.  Once secure, fluff as much (or little) as you want.
Have fun, and let us know how you are coming along with your decorations.  We love to get comments, and if you feel so inclined, send us some photos of your work, and we will display it here!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Decooooraaaations (sung to De Colores)

Cascarones -There is a tradition in Mexico of making cascarones (eggshell "crackers" filled with confetti).   They are created for fiestas and street-party types of celebrations, not just around Easter but for Cinco de Mayo, as well.  Growing up in Arizona, there was not a Cinco de Mayo celebration that Jo and I participated in, that did not involve cascarones!

What you will need:
  • eggs - emptied out
  • tissue paper - cut into small squares (to cover egg opening)
  • confetti 
  • glue
  • scissors
First, you will need to empty out your eggs.  I HIGHLY recommend just cracking a small, yet manageable size on the bottom of the egg, in order to get all the white and yolk out (after many years of making these growing up, I think my cheek muscle memory will never ever forget the soreness of blowing out eggs...this technique, while very pretty, it is not only very time consuming, but sometimes makes the eggs harder on the head).  Save the raw egg to make your family omelets, scrabbled eggs, or some other egg treat.  Savvy Tip: use a pin or needle to break up the yolk.  You can manage a smaller hole, and the yolk won't get caught up.

Next, you can use many ways to decorate.  Markers, glitter glue, paint, egg dye. 

Once your eggs are dried, fill them with confetti.  Seal the opening with the tissue paper and glue.  Once your glue is dry, you are ready to start smashing them on people's heads...

Tissue flowers:  Brightly colored tissue paper flowers are a necessity when it comes to Cinco de Mayo decor.  These are very easy to make, and even easier when your son's first grade class is studying Mexico and his super talented teachers decided to make these decorations during an art unit...

What you will need:
  • scissors
  • tissue paper
  • pipe cleaners
  • optional: your son's first grade class LOL (obviously this was an apropos event, but convenient none the less-that's redundant, isn't it?)
First, make a tidy stack of six pieces (or more) of tissue paper:

Next,  cut the stack to a desired length.  This can be anywhere from 6 to 12 inches wide, or more.  I recommend making a variety of sizes and colors.  This will only add dimension to the aesthetics.

Then, secure the center of the tissue with a pipe cleaner.

From here, use your imagination.  You can trim the ends with scissors, make notches, the sky is the limit. You can cut an arch shape for a regular round flower or use fancy scissors for ruffled edges.

The magic of the flower begins to appear.  Separate each layer of tissue carefully, beginning with the inside, making your way out.

You now have a beautiful flower!

Stay tuned for more decoration ideas.  Coming up is a new 'twist' on the tissue paper flower idea, and papel picado, cut paper banners that are an additional Mexican fiesta tradition, and you will see why. With cheerful colors and clever cutouts, how can you not include these?

Decorations alternative?

Are you feeling that you aren't that creative?  Our hope is that we are providing (and will continue to provide) you with easy, fun, yet very attractive decorations.  But just in case you would rather purchase items instead of making them, that is just as savvy!

Currently Shindigz is offer 15% all orders over $75 (use code VSK44T).  You can stock up on items for your Cinco de Mayo fiesta, as well as any other parties you are planning throughout the rest of the year.

Here are some ideas from Amazon:


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Time to send out the invites

So, how are you going to do it?  Are you going to use evite (one of our personal favorites for informal parties)?  Check out just one of the super cute evites they have there:

OR do you want to do something creative and hand out the invitations, personally?  Here are some ideas from us to you:
  • FLAG INVITATION:  Use a picture of the Mexican flag and on the back, provide all the party information (don't forget to use Jo's ideas from yesterday, see below).:  
  • BOTTLE INVITATION:  Do you have a beer drinker (or 2) in your family?  Next time you (or he) goes to the store to pick up some brewskies...pick up some Corona or Dos XX.  (Maybe you can have a pre-help-us-drink-beer-so-you-can-get-invited-to-our-cinco-de-mayo-party).  Once the beer is consumed, rinse out the bottles, dry, and place the invitation rolled up inside. 
  • MARACA INVITATION:  One year, for Jo's daughter's birthday/slumber party, she passed out the girls' invitations in ONE slipper.  Then, each girl got the second slipper when the came to the spa themed party.  So, using that idea, how about rolling up an invitation on the handle of one maraca.  When your guests arrive, they must find their matching maraca (somewhere amongst the party decorations)!

Looking for some cute invitation ideas for the above ideas? How about...

You can ALWAYS use something traditional and find some pre-printed invites like:

      Tuesday, April 13, 2010

      A Party by Any Other Name . . .

      I find it fun to name all my parties. They help the party take on a life of their own. A name can be as simple as The Smith Family’s 1st Annual Cinco de Mayo Fiesta or Smith Bowl 2010 (for a Super Bowl party). You can also get creative. Our annual after-Christmas re-gifting party is known as “Gift-miss”. Shelley often treats her expecting friends to Baby-Que (a family BBQ baby shower). We spend every Halloween at Bubba Factor (our dear friend Bubba’s Fear Factor themed party). Some Cinco de Mayo ideas are:

      • Fiesta de Amigos

      • Smith* Family Fiesta Grande

      • 1st Annual Run for the Border

      • Fiesta Smith*

      • 1st Annual Cinco de Mayo Fiesta

      • Nacho Ordinary Party

      I also like to give the party location a fun name. It adds to the overall theme and helps with the decorating. For Super Bowl, invite your friends to join you at Smith* Stadium. We live on Sugar Lane. My daughter invites her friends to “Club Sugar Lane” each year for her birthday party. We have even made a sign to hang above the door and borrow velvet ropes to set the stage before they even get through the door. For Cinco de Mayo, invite your guests to:

      • Casa Smith

      • Margarita John’s*

      • Fajita Joe’s*

      • South of the (Insert your subdivision name here) Border

      • Casa de Fiesta

      • Smith’s* Cantina.

      You can even use a free online translator to translate your street name into Spanish. “Sugar Lane” translates to “Calle de Azúcar” Get creative and have fun with it. If you come up with other great ideas use the comment section below to share.

      * Insert your name here.

      Sunday, April 11, 2010

      A party is only as good as its guests

      It's time to put together the guest list for your Cinco de Mayo party.  Determine how many people you want to invite. Grab a pencil and paper and get to work. Everyone has their own formula: equal number of men and women, a banker, a journalist, somebody involved in politics, a restaurateur, someone in marketing . . . a butcher, baker, and candlestick maker. My method has evolved over the years and works well for me. Use it as a place to start and adjust it to fit your needs.

      I start with my best friends-- you know, the ones who show up early to help set up and stay to put the leftover food in the refrigerator. I even give them a quick call to make sure that they can come. I have three couples on my short list and I try to never have a party unless at least two of them can come.

      Then I add someone that we have known for a while, but never invited to anything—you know, that couple that you see and think, “I bet we could be good friends if we got to know each other well.” Sometimes they are a neighbor, someone from church, the parents of my child’s friend, etc.

      Next, I pick at least two people from each of our different “worlds”—work, church, neighborhood, soccer, etc. I pick at least two so that everyone knows someone. If it’s a small community of people, I invite everyone. For example, there are only four people in my husband’s department. Even though I only like two of them, I invite all of them. Chances are, the people I don’t get along with will probably not come. I now have my first draft.

      I go through the list and edit. Sometimes I add and sometimes I subtract. If you find yourself with someone on the list that is not a good match, it’s OK to cross them off.
      • Singles: If there are single people on the list, I make sure that at least 25% of the invitees are single. I DO NOT try to play matchmaker. My goal is to make them feel comfortable and not out of their element.
      • Social Class: We have a HUGE mix of friends. Our guest lists often include CEO’s, college professors, politicians, doctors, plumbers, electricians, elementary school teachers, firemen, people who live in mansions, people who live in trailers, etc. To make a party work, everyone must feel like they belong. I go through the list and make sure that there are equal numbers of people from each social class. If you try to pretend that we live in a classless society, you will mess this up and people will feel like outcasts.
      • Understand Your Motive: What kind of party is this? Will we be playing games or having a sit down dinner with conversation? With my motive in mind, I go through the list again. I know which of my friends are good at games, enjoy acting silly, are great conversationalists, etc. It is OK to cross off your friends who hate playing games, they will probably be grateful. You can always invite them to your wine and cheese tasting party.
      • Let’s Talk: Review the list for conversation styles. I know which of my friends love to talk politics and which ones love to talk about shopping. Visualize the party: I can see Neal and Bud standing near the beverages discussing health care, Cindi, Heather, and Donlyn sitting on the couch talking about their children. Where is Cathy? She does not fit in with either group-- I have to fix that.
      • The social butterflies: I always add one to two social butterflies—even if I don’t really like them. You know who I am talking about—your husband’s coworker who has something to say about everything and Sally-do-good from the PTA who is always laughing and telling some story about their latest travels. Even though you have long reached the conclusion that you will never break through their hard candy shell to get to the melts-in-your-mouth goodness that makes a friend a friend, they are AWESOME people to have at parties. They will talk to everyone. They bridge the barriers and bring people together. They make people feel welcome. Remember, it took you a while to decide that you don’t really want to be friends with Sally. You neighbor is just meeting her and will probably never see her again.
      • Who did I forget?: I break out the Christmas card list and add anyone that I may have forgotten. I also run my finished draft by my husband. He always finds someone to add.
      A few parting words of advice:

      Invite just one type of person
      Invite someone who doesn’t really fit because you owe them
      Invite known adversaries
      Try your best
      Take the time after the party to critique which guests worked well and which ones left early. Make notes for next time.

      Good Luck!

      Tuesday, April 6, 2010

      Today is the day

      . . . to set the date for your Cinco de Mayo party. This year The 5th of May falls on a Wednesday (Am I the only one who has to say Wed-nes-day out loud every time I spell it? Why is "Wednesday" pronounced so differently than its spelling? All the other days of the week are pretty straight forward, so just wondering...) In the south, where I live, Wednesday is a big church night. I would never plan a party on a Wednesday unless it was for church. It’s O.K. to celebrate a holiday early. The weather in early May is beautiful. Your options are wide open. You can choose an evening dinner party or a Saturday afternoon backyard fiesta. The choices are abundant.

      Step 1: Check your schedule. You are the host and your schedule is the most important. Do not try to host a party that you have to squeeze between your daughters piano recital and dinner with your significant other’s boss. Last minute drama always happens and you need to schedule time for unexpected events. I also like to schedule a full day to clean and prepare my house. I try to avoid Friday evening parties. I like to have all day Saturday to get ready. Plus everything is much smoother when I can use my D.H. (Darling Husband) and teenage son to do all the heavy lifting.

      Step 2: Consider your guests. Who are you inviting? Is this an adult only party or will there be families with kids? Do they need to put children to bed by 8:00pm? Are they working all day followed by their regularly scheduled trip to the gym? Do they need to be up early for church on Sunday? Think about who you might invite and consider a time that is convenient for them. As much as you would like to think that they are your best friends and would drop anything to see you, the reality is that life gets in the way. Don’t make your friends choose between you and life—you might not like the outcome.

      Option 1: Use Evite. has a great feature now that lets you poll your guests for the best time to have an event. You can enter up to 5 dates and times and your guests respond with their choice. While this would not be appropriate for a wedding, it is totally appropriate for an informal Cinco de Mayo party.

      Option 2: Pick a Budget Savvy date. There is nothing wrong with celebrating Cinco de Mayo on My 9th or 10th. Choosing this option is always easy on the pocketbook. The stores will start to mark things down about one week before May 5th. On May 6th, whatever is left will be 50% to 70% off.

      The first step in planning a party is to pick the date. There is no need for wailing and gnashing of teeth. We will be here to walk you through the rest. Go ahead—I dare you!

      Monday, April 5, 2010

      Don't forget... hit all your favorite shops for the after Easter sales.

      For example, look at this great deal I found for my boys.  They love, love, LOVE Thomas the Tank Engine...Here is the Easter Thomas...or maybe stock up on some bunny glasses for next year!

      Most places like Target, Walmart, Kmart, etc. will have all Easter decorations for 50% off or more.  Also don't forget to check on-line.  Pottery Barn Kids, Oriental Trading, and Lillian Vernon, are some good places to check out!

      Thursday, April 1, 2010

      Time to stock up

      I just returned from Target. They had a section with basketball decorations for March Madness. It has all been reduced to 50% off. Now is the time to stock up for your son’s birthday party. Happy hunting!
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