May 31, 2013

how to throw a fiesta party

Last weekend we threw a fiesta birthday party for my boyfriend. He loves mexican food and I thought it would be fun to make his favorite foods like tacos, nacho inspired potato skins, jalapeno poppers, tortilla chips and salsa, and decorate the house with pinatas, papel picado, and sombreros.

This week I want to show you what I made and what I bought so you can throw your very own fiesta at home.

  • Fringe backdrop - Learn how I made it here
  • Balloons - local party store. I didn't spend money on helium balloons or a tank.  I put the balloons up days in advance and didn't want them to fall, so I simply taped them to the wall and it gave them a floating look, saves time and money.
  • Menus - I made them myself.
  • Flowers and cactus plants - Bought from local flower and plant shop. You can also find faux succulents  on etsy
  • Papel Picado banners - Amol's Party Store
  • Sombrero (Perfect decoration and photo prop) - Amol's Party Store
  • Pinata Donkey - Learn how I made them
  • Cactus Pinata - Learn how I made the cactus pinata
  • Mini Pinatas - Amol's Party Store
  • Paper Flowers - I made the paper flowers that we hung on the ceiling, but you can purchase similar ones here. Hope to make a tutorial very soon.
  • Plastic maracas - local party store
  • Mexican Puppet - local estate sale
  • Red Peppers - I placed large colorful peppers around tables - local market
  • Tablecloths (Large white tablecloth and colorful mexican themed tablecloth, similar)
  • Three tier stand - Target 
  • Construction Paper for hand cut letters for birthday sign- local craft shop


  • Spicy hummus and veggies
  • Tortilla chips with salsa and guacamole
  • Chipolte cheese and crackers
  • Mexican potato skins (How to make)
  • Spicy almonds
  • Jalapeno poppers
  • Taquitos

  • We made a taco bar for people to serve themselves tacos and stuff with beef or beans, and taco dressings like chopped lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, avocado, shredded cheese and sour cream. 
  • Spanish rice
  • Black beans and refried beans
  • Potato Salad
  • Corn and tomato salad

  • Key lime cupcakes with slices of lime
  • Berry salad (blueberries and strawberries)
  • Mexican wedding cookies
  • Birthday cake which was custom made for Yanni by a local cake designer/baker. She created a papel picado banner, peppers, and a cactus all made with fondant.

It took some planning to lay out what I wanted and how I wanted to decorate everything. Good old and reliable paper and a pencil helped me lay everything out from how I wanted the rooms to look like, how many tables I needed for the food, desserts drinks, silverware, and decorations. 

If I had to give you a few tips I learned along the way they would be to:
  1. Purchase the party decorations you need at least a 6-8 weeks before the party just incase something is out of stock, you need more of something, it may take a while to deliver, and you may realize that you need more of something.
  2. Make the decorations well in advance. For example, I made the pinatas, fringe back-drop, paper flowers and the birthday letters weeks before the party. This got me excited for the party and I didn't have to worry about decorating the day of or days before. Additionally, this allowed time for adjustments.
  3. Set the tables for the party in advance too. One week before the party I set up the tables where I wanted them. I had two in the living room and one in the kitchen. I put the tablecloths on them and I even started arranging which plates and trays I was going to use and placed them on the tables.
  4. Use post-its to decide what food is going on what trays and plates. This help me figure it I needed to buy more plates and if certain foods would fit certain trays.
  5. If you are going to have a cake made shop around for different prices and availability. Our party was in May and for cake shops that's wedding season, so make sure you let them know when you need it and have them deliver the cake on the day of the event, this way your not running around and picking up the cake that morning.
  6. Clean the house the night before. Don't wait till the day of the party to clean in the morning. Sometimes you think you will have time before the party, but a bunch of things can come up before hand, like early guests.
  7. Make a timeline of what you need to do, the month before the party (invite guests), a week before the party, the days leading up to it, and what you need to do the day of.  I had the decorations up. The tables were set up, most of the food was cooked the night before and some appetizers were bought from the local mexican restaurant the day of. I wanted the morning to be stress free, so that I could just get ready in peace.  Don't forget to make a slot of time for you. Trust me, I have thrown parties and I always think I just need a few minutes to get ready before everyone arrives, but that never happens.

May 27, 2013

fiesta birthday party recap

*Update: Here is an updated list of all the things I made and bought for the party - How to Throw a Fiesta Party

This past weekend we celebrated Yanni's birthday. It was a rainy day, but we made the best of it and moved the party indoors.  He loves tacos and mexican food so we went for a fiesta theme. 

Mostly, all the decorations were made by hand, such as the pinatas, the paper flowers hanging from the ceiling above the food bar, the fringed streamer backdrop,  the menus, and I hand cut each letter to spell out Happy Birthday out of different colors of cardstock paper.

My next few upcoming posts will give more details about the party and how you can make similar decorations.

The Menu: Appetizers included spicy hummus and veggies, tortilla chips and salsa and guacamole, chipolte cheese and crackers, mexican potato skins, jalapeno poppers and taquitos.

Main Event: We made a taco bar for people to serve themselves tacos and stuff with beef and dressings, like lettuce, tomatoes, shredded cheese and sour cream. 

For sides: And we made spanish rice, refried beans, corn salad, and potato salad.

Desserts (my favorite part) Included key lime cupcakes with slices of lime, berry salad (blueberries and strawberries), mexican wedding cookies, and the birthday cake which was custom made for Yanni by a local cake designer/baker. The first level of the cake was a chocolate cake with a chipolte chocolate ganache filling and the top was a vanilla bean cake with a raspberry filling.

The food and company were great and we had a lovely birthday celebration.

May 20, 2013

how to make cactus pinata

For our upcoming fiesta we made different pinatas, check out how to make our donkey pinata. For a center piece we made a cactus pinata.

  1. Draw a cactus outline on a large cardboard box and use a box cutter to cut two identical layers.
  2. Next, cut out long cardboard pieces. The width of the cardboard strips will determine how wide the pinata will be.
  3. Tape the long strips of cardboard to piece both sides together.
  4. All done. The pinata is now ready to be decorated with paper fringe.

     5. Next, using colorful streamers, cut little strips of fringe.
     6. Glue the fringed streamers in overlapping layers around the cardboard.
     7. If you plan on filling it with candy, make sure you cut a hole or door to put the candy in. And if you plan on hanging it make two holes on the top to loop rope. I didn't hang mine, as I used it as a centerpiece for the table.
     8. Place at the center of the party and use for props for photos.

This cactus was the perfect center piece for the taco bar, but could also be filled with candy to later one be used for a fun game! We gave ours a way to guests.

Thanks for stopping by!

May 19, 2013

weekend recap

The house is filled with fiesta decor as I plan and decorate for the birthday boy, okay, so he is not a boy, he is a full grown man, but saying birthday man sounds a bit strange.
I have been a wee bit obsessed with cactus and succulents lately. I don't have a green thumb, and unfortunately plants don't make it very long around me, so I have faith that I can keep up the maintenance needed for cactus survival. Plus, these are going to be great for the fiesta.
 Cheesy Spinach Omelet. I have taken a mini break from Sunday pancakes, and now I am on a omelet kick.
 Handmade more pinatas, this little guy will be a decoration and not for candy stuffing and stick beating.
 Put some more decorations up for the birthday 'boy's' fiesta.
I worked on one of a kind necklaces over the weekend, that I will be adding to the Black Feather Shop soon.

And, I took a stab at making some crab cakes. I will be sharing a how to soon!
Enjoy! Have a beautiful week! And remember, to be kind to one and other.