How to host a Cinco de Mayo fiesta

In the U.S., Cinco de Mayo (May 5) is commonly mistaken to be Mexico's Independence Day, when it's actually a commemoration of the Mexican army's victory over French forces in 1862. Either way, this holiday calls for a celebration in true Mexican style. So thrown on that sombrero, grab a bottle of tequila and start planning!

Here's how to throw a Cinco de Mayo party that you won't forget:

1. Get the word out
Invite your friends, family and neighbors to your Cinco De Mayo bash by sending out themed holiday party invitations. Consider customizing your invitation so it reflects the Mexican flag by choosing colors like green, white and red. Include the date, time location and an email for RSVPs. Be sure to include a note that encourages everyone to dress festive for the occasion! Sombreros, maracas and ponchos welcome.

2. Use festive decor
It's not a Cinco de Mayo celebration without the use of traditional Mexican decorations or mariachi music! From festive tableware to piñatas to papel picado banners (traditional folk art from Mexico that requires cutting intricate patterns onto tissue paper), your party's atmosphere will be rocking. Brightly colored striped serapes, or traditional Mexican blankets, make for great table cloths. For the centerpieces, set out small cacti in lieu of traditional flowers. To dive deeper into the festive spirit, place the cacti in empty cans of salsa or enchilada sauce instead of basic terra-cotta pots. Finish off the decor by stringing chili pepper lights to add a final touch to the ambiance.

3. Make a margarita bar
Set up a bar with a couple of premade pitchers of traditional and strawberry margaritas. Place small bowls of water, salt and sugar so guests can rim the glass with their preferred substance. Complete the drink station with an ice bucket, straws, napkins and slices of lemons/limes so guests can add some extra zest.

Consider leaving out a bottle of tequila and a couple of shot glasses for those guests who are feeling extra festive this year.

4. Serve a traditional Mexican cuisine
Since most of your guests are going to be starting with that delicious margarita, be sure to have some appetizers out before the main meal. Start by placing chips, salsa and guacamole on all of the tables, followed by jalapeño poppers.

Keep dinner simple by creating a traditional taco bar. Set it up buffet style so your guests can help themselves to as much food as they wish. Place shredded chicken, steak, stir-fried veggies (onions and peppers), lettuce, tomatoes, beans, cheese, sour cream, guacamole and pico de gallo in large serving bowls. Arrange both hard and soft shell tacos on a separate platter

For dessert, serve mini churros, an authentic Mexican treat, and drizzle them with warm chocolate sauce. Make it easy on your guests (and yourself!) to quickly grab one of these sweet treats by placing toothpicks with Mexican flags on them inside each of the churros. Cut up an array of fresh fruit to serve as well.