Written by Spotloan

Many Americans take advantage of half-priced margaritas each year on Cinco de Mayo, but few of us remember the origins of the holiday from when we learned about it in school. Cinco de Mayo, the fifth of May, celebrates the Mexican military’s victory over the significantly larger French forces in 1862.  

Also called the Anniversary of the Battle of Puebla, this holiday is celebrated in its namesake state of Puebla with parades, speeches, and reenactments. Throughout the rest of the country and ours, the holiday is an opportunity to take pride in and show recognition of Mexican pride. 

Here are some of our favorite ideas for celebrating Cinco de Mayo without breaking the bank.

Host a Homemade Mexican Potluck 

According to Forbes, Americans spend an annual average of 2.9 billion on margaritas alone on Cinco de Mayo. Additionally, Americans reportedly eat a collective 81 million pounds of avocados on Cinco de Mayo. 

Why not put in the extra time and effort to have a homemade Mexican potluck at home with your loved ones and friends? Homemade meals are not only more cost-effective but also a great way to bring everyone together. 

Sip a salt-rimmed special at home for a fraction of the cost, and check out our list of authentic Mexican meals you can make to honor the holiday in a more meaningful way: 

These are just a few festive favorites to help you get started. Looking for some other options to choose from? Browse this list of 17 traditional Mexican food recipes for your Cinco de Mayo party. There’s something on there for everyone. 

You can also find recipes for traditional Mexican desserts, like Mexican wedding cookies or fried ice cream, and endless margarita variations on Pinterest. 

Listen to Festive Music 

Set the mood for your budget-friendly Cinco de Mayo get-together with some free and festive tunes. Choose a Mexican instrumental music playlist on YouTube or search for the Cinco de Mayo channel on your favorite subscription music service. 

If you don’t have a favorite music service, both Pandora and Spotify offer free versions and easy-to-use apps. And if you’re looking for something to entertain the kids, choose the soundtrack to Coco or Dora for a moving Mexican musical experience. 

Participate in Traditional Activities 

Mexican meals are a budget-friendly, festive, and delicious way to honor the culture. And music is a great addition to any celebration. Next, we recommend participating in traditional activities like learning a dance, breaking out a piñata, or making Mexican pottery.

YouTube is packed with countless dance tutorials, and Pinterest offers step-by-step instructions on making Mexican pottery, along with millions of other tutorials that may come in handy during your Cinco de Mayo celebration. 

Watch a Movie or Documentary that Features the Cinco de Mayo Holiday  

As the day winds down, now is a great time to find a festive flick to throw on and watch during dessert. Some kid-friendly movies to enjoy include Coco, The Book of Life, and Nacho Libre. 

Coco is a family-friendly celebration of Mexican culture that seems to be currently unmatched. 

But if you’re looking for options for an audience of teens or adults, we’ve got you covered there, too. Selena and Desperado are two films to enjoy on Cinco de Mayo. And for a more historical account of the holiday, we recommend the 2013 movie Cinco de Mayo, La Batalla, or the History Channel documentary named after the holiday. 

You can find most of the movies mentioned here on Netflix, Hulu, or Disney+ – three of the top streaming services that give you the most bang for your buck

Cinco de Mayo Decorations DIY 

Cinco de Mayo celebrations should be bright and bold. You can save money and enjoy yet another frugal, festive activity by crafting your own decorations. If you’re not sure where to start, here are some family-friendly favorites: 

When it comes to crafting, there are few rules! Your options are limitless, so take this opportunity to get creative and craft something bold, bright, and fun to make.