Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Mexican decorating without the pinata

The setting: a small, windowless conference room with a fluorescent lights and a table too big for regular cloths.

The challenge: make it festive without referring to Christmas in particular. I'll be serving people of every faith in an environment that's not my home.

What do you think about using the pastries as a Mexican inspiration? (Several of you beat me to the punch in the previous comments!)

No burros, sombreros or pinatas allowed!

By buying the pastries, I leave myself almost no budget for decorating. I don't even think I can spring for poinsettia plants.

Perhaps that's not a bad thing--large, sculptural paper poinsettias might seem less traditionally Christmas. I'd rather have a subtle nod to the season and to Mexico.

Colors? I'm thinking lime green, yellow and a rosy red. The room is painted light blue with slate blue chairs.

I'll have to find a bright woven fabric remnant to throw across the table. I could line baskets with bright tissue paper, or make some kind of tin-punched containers for tea bags and coffee stirrers.

All suggestions and special touches appreciated! Especially the music--right now all I can think of is Feliz Navidad. Any recommendations for a classical guitar CD or something instrumental, yet upbeat?


Anonymous said...

Check the library for Mexican Christmas music. I am sure they will have some. The colors you are thinking of will be fine. The back ground colors you speak of (the blues) will look like sky. I also think that mixing and matching the colored paper in the baskets will be beautiful. Roxie

Unknown said...

How about Manheim steamroller? It's classical.

TJ said...

You should be able to find some of the small woven napkins that look similar to the large woven wool blankets very cheap at a thrift store. My grandma lives in Mexico, so I love your ideas. I would tend not to buy the pastries. Even though there is a very large Mexican Community here, the pastries do not taste anything like what I tasted in Mexico. If you feel up to baking, I think you would be happy with bollilos and spreads for them. Also a bit of fresh fruit, but not too much will add a festive look (why doesn't anyone eat fruit at meetings?)

I will check my grandma's photos for any of Christmas in Mexico and email them to you for ideas. How fun!

Tamara said...

Meredith...Love your palette, and I think you have the right idea. Instead of poinsettias, how about tissue paper flowers? Very traditional, festive, cheap & easy. http://crafts.kaboose.com/flower2.html

Any classical guitar would be great. Or, you could check the library for a Mariachi cd.

Unglazed pottery is a nice touch, and tones down the brightness of the colors. (glazed would work, too)

Dried corn husks are also often used in Mexican Christmas decor...can be formed into a wreath. http://www.chilecauldron.com/images/DSC01068.JPG
In Texas, a large bag of corn husks can be purchased very inexpensively in the Mexican food area of grocery stores.

Chilis, peppers, and garlic are also pretty and festive additions to a tablescape.

Laura said...

If you still have $$ left, I would go for the poinsettias. They are very traditionally Mexican and have a legend to go along with them in Spanish-speaking countries. You might even be able to get them donated by a local grower or floral shop in exchange for advertisement since it is for a business event.

I have a tape called Acoustic Christmas (Spirited Holiday Instrumentals) that would be a nice touch. It is produced by Regency. Maybe you could find that one.
Also, The King's Singers are very fun to listen to! They have a Christmas CD called "A Little Christmas Music" that has a section of 3 Spanish carols on it. They are "Riu, riu, chiu", "El nino querido", and "Villancico catalan". Maybe you acn find this CD or at least something with these songs on it.

Anne Marie@Married to the Empire said...

I don't know what they're called, but there are those paper cutouts that are common to Mexico. Some restaurants use them to hang across the walls or ceilings. I know I've seen them for sale before, and they were cheap. (However, I do realize that living in TX may give me a serious price advantage.)

Don't forget to ask around to see if any of your friends have anything (tablecloths, decor) that you can borrow.

I think punched tin would be great. That would be easy enough to make. If you're allowed to burn candles there, you could even make a few punched-tin-can candle holders.

Anne Marie@Married to the Empire said...

Okay, I just googled it. It looks like the paper cutouts are called papel picado.

And just in case you're feeling ambitious, here's a Scholastic link with instructions on how to do it: http://content.scholastic.com/browse/lessonplan.jsp?id=431

You could get Andrew involved with this!

Shannon said...

The color scheme sounds perfect. PIles of lemons and limes would be pretty and decorative and you could use them later. I like the Mexican theme, but I'd agree with you about keeping it subtle. Paper flowers can be really pretty and Andrew could help:)

Anonymous said...

When I think of authentic Mexican, I think of Rick Bayless, chef. Check out his website for some artistic inspiration: http://www.rickbayless.com

deb meyers

love the idea of the pastries! Why don't you ask your pastry maker if she/he has cloths, etc?

Seis said...

Django rheinhart he is classical guitar from the 1930's. It is somewhat easy to find maybe the local library and definately a college library would have it. He is actually a gypsy spaniard I think. Anyway, i think it makes great paty music, and I always get asked about it.

Andrea said...

Buena Vista Social Club! It's a band. Try the library.

mama k said...

I second the library. You can get a "latin jazz" or similar CD that has some latin flavor to it while not being Christmas-y.

The Frugal Countess said...

Try the Gypsy Kings. Great Latin guitar. Available at any library I'm sure - they are very popular.

Anonymous said...

The most important thing is to use fresh local produce and keep things simple - mexican pastries are fine as long as they are baked fresh that day - be careful about cut up fruit - do it yourself if you can. If you dont want to go Mexican bake banana and cranberry breads in 9x13 pans- very inexpensive - freeze lime and orange slices to add to the carafes of iced water -do not buy bottled water. Aldi s here in IL are sell the most amazing oranges right now - besides the bags they have individual ones for 39 cents - they are $1.00 everywhere else.

Anonymous said...

If you can't fnd a table clothes large enough how about several solid colored clothes draped in a diamond pattern rather that straight across. The clothes would overlap each other and be colorful.
Also look for round paper lantern in different colors, they are very festive and easy to work with.

Anonymous said...

i wouldnt go with a Mexican theme - Cinco de Mayo maybe but not Xmas - there doesnt have to be anything religious about a table of food just a "holiday" feel. Try to have some touches of luxury - proper half and half for the coffee not individual packets of anything - have one drink (HC) and water. grapes are expensive but SO much easier to eat - put them on a "silver tray "with a veryfew kumquots scattered throughout (cut the grapes into little bunches - about six on each stalk) Keep it trad and simple and keep track of where all the food has come from.

Malia said...

Phil Keaggy has an album called "Lights of Madrid". It's a guitar/instrumental. I have a copy of it and you're welcome to borrow it.

barbara said...

We are studying Mexico in school this week - we got a book from the library entitled, "A Mexican Christmas." I don't know when your party is, but maybe you could check your library for the book and get some ideas . . .Here are a few things I see that might help you - lots of color, lots of candles and fireworks, bean-and-cheese sandwiches, tostadas, fruit, candy, nuts, popcorn, poinsettias and plants native to Mexico, carved radishes (!). Dessert is bunuelos - a sugary fried tortilla served w/honey (recipe is included). Baby Jesus and the Nativity are mentioned on almost every page of this book - He is the reason for their celebration! Could you add a nativity as part of your table decor? Hope this is helpful.