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All things considered, the week after the fifth is probably the best time to have a taco party if you want to save money. I can guarantee that all the ingredients you need are on sale at the grocery store, and any festive props or decorations will be discounted that week. I get so much joy from shopping the after-holiday sales, and Cinco de Mayo is no exception. My overarching belief, however, is that we should eat tacos this week, next week, and every week. What I’m saying is, don’t be afraid to stock up on avocados and piñatas!
Do’s and Don’t’s
- DO invite guests as soon as possible. There’s a lot of competition for half-price tacos and $1 margaritas in the dining scene, but a friendly backyard environment should entice more than a few amigos.
- DO provide the basics. Keep reading for a list of the essentials you don’t want to worry about if a guest cancels or arrives late.
- DO consider serving multiple courses. If you serve an appetizer, main dish plus sides, sweets, and an assortment of beverages, there should be no concern if you run out of tortilla chips, for example. That’s just your cue to move onto the next course.
- DO plan a fun activity and/or contest. I combined the two ideas by encouraging guests to arrive in their most festive shirt. Then we collectively decided who had the most creative entry, and they were awarded the first swing at the piñata outside. For anyone who did not wear a festive outfit to the party, but wanted to partake in the theme, I loaned sombreros. They made excellent photo props! For more decor inspiration with super fast Amazon Prime shipping, click here.
- DON’T be afraid to make it a potluck. The make-your-own nature of tacos lends itself to an easy and affordable potluck-style meal.
- DON’T forget to save this post for next year!
- Tortilla chips (the obvious, no-shame starter)
- Pico de gallo (mild or medium if you only choose one)
- Shredded lettuce and/or red cabbage
- Diced tomato, onion, and jalapeno
- Lime wedges
- Sour cream
- Shredded or crumbled cheese. Cheddar-jack, queso fresco, or cotija are a few staples.
- Hard- and soft-shell tortillas (corn or flour). You can make them from scratch if you’re feeling adventurous. The ingredients are simple, but the process is messy and time-consuming, which are two of my least favorite aspects of cooking.
- Two protein fillings. You could probably get away with just one, but there are a lot of possible dietary restrictions and preferences, so having two options gives you a better chance of catering to your guests’ needs without sending out a lengthy questionnaire with the invitation. Another great way to address these needs is to encourage guests who may have dietary restrictions to bring something they would enjoy. Because I am vegetarian (with the exception of crab meat) who likes to eat calorie-conscious foods, I appreciate the opportunity to bring food I know I will enjoy. I also enjoy cooking and baking, but even if I didn’t, it would be easy enough to buy something at the store on the way to the event. My favorite vegetarian taco protein is chili-spiced chickpeas and cauliflower. My husband’s favorite (carnivorous) taco protein is slow-cooked, ancho-chili pulled pork. We served both at our last taco party.
- One side dish. Rice and beans is my go-to, but a corn/tomato/jicama/avocado salad is also a yummy side.
- One dessert. These churro cupcakes were a crowd favorite last year. Check out the recipe courtesy of The Brook Cook blog.
- Beverages. We focused on margarita pitchers with plenty of lime wedges, but other festive options include Corona, mojitos, Spanish wine, tequila or mezcal, and non-alcoholic flavored teas and Mexican Coke.
- Spicy or different salsa (like mango-pineapple)
- Non-standard toppings (jicama, corn, avocado slices)
- Additional types of cheese
- Extra tortilla chips. You can never have too many…
- Alternative tortillas. Suggest corn if you are providing flour soft-shell.
- Additional beverages
My overarching belief, however, is that we should eat tacos this week, next week, and every week.
The great thing about tacos is that they are versatile, so the possibilities are endless. Did I miss anything you wouldn’t dare neglect at your party? Let me know in the comments!