Monday, June 14, 2010

Party: "Fiesta Forty" Birthday Party

Well, we did it! We used my fortieth birthday as the excuse to host a party we'd been thinking about for a few years, with street taco vending, live Mexican music, good friends and family and lots of bright decorations (well, it's probably not accurate to use "we" for that one...). Here is the report on my FIESTA FORTY! starting with a photo of my little Scarlett in her fiesta skirt and blouse (Audrey wore a similar set) and me in my maternity Mexican peasant blouse--hooray for variety in pregnancy wear! It was fun to dress the part for this party.

As you can see, I jumped on the tissue paper pop-pom bandwagon for this party. Loved the idea of brightly colored clusters of these hanging from the trees. I used a mixture of rounded and pointed petal poms in bright pink, turquoise, yellow, white and orange.

We set up guest tables in our backyard topped with chartreuse green table covers, then yellow paper cloths hand-cut to resemble Papel Picado banners, then my oilcloth Fiesta Tablecloths, and finally the Fiesta Flower Bouquets I had been making in the wee hours these past weeks. So fun to see these ideas come together. I typically don't like using paper but it seemed the right thing for this casual fiesta--plus I love the Mexican paper crafting traditions of banners, flowers and tissue covered pinatas.

The serving tables were set with yellow table skirts, white hand-cut paper tablecloths, and over sized yellow tissue Papel Picado banners. 

I wish I'd taken better photos of the banners because they turned out really fun and were a big part of the original concept for this party, including the invitations

I used a different variety of paper flower bouquets on the serving tables. It was so much fun iterating on this theme! On one table I had over-sized arrangements with a mix of rounded and pointy "blooms" in 36" tall vases. (I used dinner napkins to make these blooms and long dowels purchased at a craft store.)

On another serving table I made tight, low arrangements of pointy blooms in bright pink with one yellow accent flower. Had I not had a deadline it would have been fun to keep experimenting!

Other serving table details included delicious Jarritos sodas in lime, mandarin, mango, guava and mandarin. These are good and so sweet so one needs a party as an excuse to drink them! We served "Mexican Coke" (the stuff made with cane sugar instead of corn syrup--yum!), and the requisite Diet Coke and water as well but the Jarritos were the first to go! (I love the bright turquoise metal bottle openers I found at a local restaurant supply and tied to the drink coolers.)

We used tinfoil takeout containers lined with brightly color napkins, metal baskets lined with napkins for the utensils, and lucky me, IKEA had straws in all the right colors. 

But the food is the real story! It was the real deal: carnitas, carne asada and pollo street tacos with grilled onions and pico de gallo (catered by a great local authentic restaurant); chips, my husband's guacamole and a variety of salsas; my Fiesta Salad; and  churros made-to-order (the only way to eat them) with chocolate or sweetened condensed milk to top. 

And, of course, birthday cake! I made Tres Leches Cake, four of them actually (recipe below). I topped each with a bright pink flower (of course) and ten candles--a bit less overwhelming to spread them out in tens rather than have forty on one cake!

I loved the idea of the guests ordering just what they wanted and moving around from taco tent to serving tables while visiting. It worked perfectly! So much fun! It wouldn't have been a party without the people. I love the chance to bring together family and friends from different stages in my life. I was lucky to have friends at the party from high school in addition to those I've made more recently.

We had two guitarists playing Ranchero music--they were so great, played a good variety at the right volume, and really added to the fiesta flavor.

The weather was a minor miracle given the amount of rain and cold we've had lately. Thank goodness as we really didn't have a backup plan! It was so beautiful outside and just the right temperature. 

Can't think of a better way to celebrate! And thank goodness I had some help blowing out the candles! (Wish you could hear our friend, Charlie, playing his guitar and singing ¡Feliz cumpleaños a !")

Now that our big parties are finished for a while I can move on to that nesting list I have barely scratched yet. I'm looking forward to creating some things without big deadlines, well, except for the obvious one!



I found this recipe for Tres Leches Cake in Child Magazine a few years ago. It was never available online and I can't find it now. Wish I had written down the name of the woman who submitted it to their cake recipe contest to give her due credit--it's such a great, easy recipe. Nice spongy cake holds up well to all the leche. My firm opinion is that anything with this much sweetened condensed milk is good!

Tres Leches Cake (Child Magazine Cake Contest Winner)
Serve: 12
Prep Time: 15 minutes (plus an hour to set)
Cooking time: 45 minutes

  • 4 medium eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ tsp. baking powder
  • 4 tsp. vanilla

  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 4 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 Tbs. sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1. Separate the eggs. In a large bowl, beat egg whites until fluffy. Add sugar gradually. Mix in egg yolks one at a time.  Combine flour and baking powder. Alternate adding milk and dry ingredients mixing thoroughly between additions. Add vanilla and mix well.

2. Pour mixture into a greased 9” square cake pan, and bake for 40-45 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes in pan.

3. Remove cake from pan and place onto a platter. Make holes in top of cake with a fork.  Combine glaze ingredients in a large bowl. Pour over the cooled cake, and let it sit for about an hour.

4. Using an electric mixer, whip cream with sugar and vanilla at high speed until soft peaks form. Spread over top and sides of cake.

This is great served cold or room temperature.


Christie // lemon squeezy home said...

Holy moly woman. That is one awesome party!

Joanne said...

WOW! What an absolutely amazing party! Beautiful details - and I just love allof the colors!

Ellia C. Naturals said...

Happy BDay! Looks like you had a blast and, oh my, what a spread!! That salad looks, recipe please?

Ellia C. Naturals said...

Ooops, just caught the recipe link for the salad...looks and sounds so yummy!

Yolanda said...

Wow. That looks like one amazing party. The details are as mouthwatering as the food. The papel picado table coverings are genius.

Maddycakes Muse said...

I am in absolute love with this party and your Fair Day party. I found you through Tip Junkie and posted a feature of your Fair Day party. I am your newest follower and it's your fault that I'm still up at 2:30 from reading your blog!!
Many blessings,

staci @ lizard n ladybug said...

What a great looking party! I am in love with the serving table & the take-out containers?? My fave!

Anonymous said...

Wow! It looked like so much fun! I love your attention to detail and how colorful everything was! Happy belated birthday to you! xo, Nan

Tasha Horsley said...

wow! wow! wow!! that looks so amazing and fun and the yum!! your girls are so darling and i love how you even dressed the part. SUCH a cool party!

(A Little Sweetness)

jo anne said...

Lovely! I am loving this party! As gal from San Antonio, I know a Fiesta when I see one! Great job!
I am sharing it with my readers in the morning!!

Moore Minutes said...

Wow, this party is incredible! I found SO much inspiration here to use, thank you so much. :) And the backyard party brings in a lot of charm.

Sandra Henderson said...

What FUN!~You are an amazing woman! :)

Anji* said...

Awesome! I want this party for my 40th! I love Mexican food, all the food you had looks amazing, that salad is something else! Love all the details, I bet you all had a blast :)

Anonymous said...

My good friend is turning 40 this summer/July. We've starting talking about what she wanted to do... we couldn't put our finger on it. I was so excited to find this, and sure enough, she LOVES IT!!!!!! Massive brownie pts for me! =)
Thanks so much!!! Love it!
My only concern is keeping the cost down... I think we'll need to rent tables, chairs, and have it catered... but the tissue balls and other decorations look a breeze.
Thanks so much!
Austin, TX

Abby said...

I was hosting a "fiesta themed" shower and found your blog. Totally copied your pom flowers!! They were gorgeous and I received tons of compliments!! Thanks for sharing your great ideas!!

The Swanky Socialite said...

Just recently came across your blog and I am in love with your parties! I am hosting a Cinco De Mayo party this weekend and I am "borrowing" your idea for the take-out plates and I am making that Fiesta Salad. Great ideas!!

Anonymous said...

Searched "mexican tissues flowers" and I chose to view yours. Wow what a great job. Looks like you have fun doing parties.

Anonymous said...

what an incredible party! Would you mind telling me where you purchased your aluminum take out containers? I've checked costco and party city with no luck so far.

Anneliese said...

@ Anonymous: I purchased the aluminum take-out containers at a local restaurant supply store but I've also seen them at The Dollar Store. Hope you can find some!

Jessika @ Secret Pie Shoppe said...

What a great party! I was inspired and just threw my mom a Fiesta Fifty party. I used the invite design that you posted as inspiration for signs, water bottle labels, food signs, etc. I just posted about it on my blog if you want to take a look. Thanks for sharing about your party!

cincimimi said...

Great party!! How did u make the giant tissue flowers hanging in the trees? Also, where did u get the cute bull piñata? I am doing a wedding shower and hope to use some of your fabulous ideas.

Anneliese said...

@cincimimi: There is a link to the tissue pom-poms tutorial at the start of this post--they are very easy and fun to make! I got the bull pinata from my mother-in-law who got it at a local Mexican grocery store. I bet you could find something online too. Good luck with your wedding shower!

Unknown said...

I love this! So fun, festive and colorful. My favorites are the tissue pom poms, the musicians, and the foil plates lined with bright napkins. You should be a professional party planner, your ideas are great!

Anonymous said...

I was looking for 40th birthday ideas for my husband's surprise party and yours are perfect. I had one question though, did you use all the same oil cloth pattern for the table cloths or did you use the different colors of the "zoya" pattern? I think I am going to use the "Aztec" pattern but wasn't sure I'd I should get multiple colors or stick with one. Thank you for posting so many great ideas.

Elena said...

I cannot thank you enough for your gorgeous blog, amazing crafts, and now the name for my husband's soon-to-be surprise 40th bday party!! I decided long ago to have a friend half-cater it with a taco bar (possibly his most favourite meal) and now all this!!! GAH!! I'm in heaven! Thank you! Thank you! THANK YOU!!!

Anonymous said...

This party looks amazing. I am totally copying you for my daughter's first communion party. It's on the 5th of May, so it somehow seems appropriate! Can I please ask you if you used the colorful plastic table liners underneath your tables, or are they cloth? I am looking for budget friendly ways to do this and I honestly can't tell. They look cloth. Thanks so much for posting this wonderful party! Love your blog. Found it on Pinterest.

Anneliese said...

@Anonymous: yes, I used plastic table skirts under my oilcloth tablecloths. Wish I could have found paper, but they worked! Your party sounds perfect for Cinco...

vfiti said...

Where did you get your white beverage bucket and stand?

Anneliese said...

@vfiti: I got the drink containers and stands at Target a couple years ago but they have some similar right now.

Unknown said...

Beautiful party. Do you have the instruction on how to make the flowers? I am looking to do flowers for my friend's baby shower?

Anneliese said...

@Marisol: Thank you for your comment. I have links in the post to the flower arrangement tutorial. I also have a picture/link in the sidebar. I made these with paper napkins! You could also search online for tissue pom poms if you are referring to the larger ones. I don't have a tutorial on those as they are pretty common. I hope that helps!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...