Ann Lemcke, The Art of Entertaining...

Easily cover tables with white tablecloths and little squares of brightly colored fabric, which you can get from a craft store. Add decorations keeping with the Mexican theme.

It’s fun to do taco and fajita bars with all sorts of ingredients and toppings. It allows guests to customize their food however they like.

You have to have a really good margarita—I recommend Patron for the tequila because it’s so smooth. Also, rim the glass with salt, but dip it into honey first. It helps the salt stay on better and creates a sweet-savory mix of flavor.

For one Cinco de Mayo party, we did a piñata, but stuffed it with items that adults would fi nd fun, instead of the standard children’s candy. We included packs of gum, lottery tickets, breath mints and miniature liquor bottles. It was very entertaining to watch adults act like kids and scramble for the prizes when the piñata broke.

Make simple party favors by tying up little treat bags with margarita mix, or give out small baby cactuses, which you can fi nd at Home Depot or garden stores.

Diane Stecher, Alobar’s Lighting and Sound...

With a theme party, you want to light up the room with the appropriate colors to add warmth. For Cinco de Mayo, use reds, greens and yellows.

Add gobos—image projections—in the room to create a fun atmosphere and set your party apart from others. There are Mexican-themed options, like a mariachi band or a sombrero, or you can have an image custom-made.

Sam Orlando Jr., Orlando’s Catering...

Offer a twist on traditional dishes. Make dessert nachos with tortilla chips coated in cinnamon-sugar, along with various toppings like caramel sauce, melted chocolate and candy sprinkles.

Mix up the entertainment with salsa dancers who come in and do a demonstration, then teach your guests how to do the steps.