One of my husbands most favorite things on this earth are tacos…specifically my barbacoa tacos. So when his birthday came around it was an easy decision to make tacos for his birthday lunch. The kids and I planned to meet him for lunch at his work with the tacos in tow. He was excited! What he didn’t know was that I had also set up a surprise lunch with some of his friends and co-workers. Surprise!
I made a few decorations throughout the week…hiding them on the porch. It’s been over 100 degrees here so I knew he was not going to be going out on the porch lol. I made some avocado piñatas, a faux chalkboard sign, picked up a few fiesta looking linens from goodwill, and used some old Voss glass water bottles to hold some fresh sunflowers I picked up.
I needed to be able to set up the whole table in a matter of minutes to avoid being caught (which I almost was!). I laid down a white curtain as the table cloth, laid a fiesta looking blanket (goodwill for $4) and hand painted pillow cover in bright fiesta colors (goodwill for $2) over the curtain to give a pop of color, hanged a party sign (“hooray” sign from target for $5) on the front of the table, and then added the table top decor of the faux chalkboard, flowers, and avocado piñatas. Easy. Easy. Easy.
HERE’S A TIP: Cloth linens easily dress up your decor over the cheap, plastic ones but they can cost so much! So look around your house and secondhand and thrift stores. What can you repurpose as a linen from what you already have or for only a few dollars? I’ve used everything from a curtain to a sheet to a blanket to cheap fabric and it makes such a big difference!
The avocados were an easy DIY using two bowls, paper mâché, and streamers and tissue paper. There are plenty of DIY tutorials out there so I won’t waste your time. Rather, here is my favorite link. A couple notable differences: Instead of balloons I used two bowls covered by Saran Wrap (since I already had Thor on hand = free), and instead of a brown seed I used gold foil to make the seed similar to the avocado piñata sold by Urban Outfitters here.
The faux chalkboard was a last minute attempt to DIY something that resembled a chalkboard for cheap. My chalkboards are being borrowed right now so I wanted to make due with something I could make fast and cheap. I grabbed black foam board and pom poms from the dollar tree, glue, a gold pen I had on hand, and stencils and got to business. I have to say I was pleased. For $2 I had a pretty good centerpiece that matched so well and made the area so much more fun!
The sunflowers were a bulk purchase from Costco. $10 for 12. They add so much color and height to the table.
HERE’S A TIP: Instantly add a sophisticated touch by using fresh flowers and/or greenery. It doesn’t have to be expensive though. What bushes and trees can you use in your or a friend’s backyard? What plants are on clearance in your local nursery? What bulk flowers are available at a discount cost? I’ve used all of those for different events and loved the results of every one of them.
I wanted some tall, thin vases to keep the height of the flowers and also to be able to hold the heavy stems up. After looking around at what I had, I came across some old glass water bottles I had stored for such a time as this! Perfect and free! I turned them around so the writing faced the back and you’d never know they were old water bottles.
Lastly was the food. I wanted a catered feel to the table so I chose some foil food containers from the dollar tree. We had meat, corn tortillas, rice, beans, chips, taco toppings of lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, guacamole, salsa, and sour cream, and donuts for dessert. Delicious and about $50 to make it for a group of 20 people ($2.50 a person!).
So, I am not a cooking blog but I thought I would quickly share the easy recipes for the food to make this a one-stop shop blog for your future fiesta. It isn’t perfect (I usually eyeball it when I make it) but hopefully it helps!
Barbacoa: a chuck roast or London broil, box of beef stock, can of chipotle peppers in Adobe sauce, 3 garlic cloves, 1 white onion sliced, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, 3 Tbsp chili powder, 2 Tbsp cumin, salt, pepper. Combine all ingredients except the meat in a slow cooker, add meat, if meat isn’t covered by the sauce then add water until covered, and cook in a slow cooker for 10-12 hours on low or until cooked thoroughly and falling apart. If possible, cook on high for the first 3-4 hrs for the most tender results IMO.
Beans: 4 cans of black beans, drained, rinsed, and warmed in a pan with some of the cooked barbacoa juice and salt.
Rice: basmati rice, box of chicken stock, can of tomato paste, and can of stewed tomatoes. Bring stock to a boil, add in tomato products and a cup of the cooked barbacoa juice, salt, and lastly add the rice. Turn the heat down to low, cover, and let simmer 20 mins or whatever time your rice directions say.
Chop up the toppings. I had pre-made salsa, chips, and corn tortillas for convenience but made my own quick version of guac. For the quick guac, mash 3 avocados and add a few spoonfuls of some pre-made salsa, dash of salt, and Tbsp of mayo (weird but trust me…soooooo creamy!). Mix thoroughly.
That’s it. You’re done! Easy right? What do you think? Any ideas you have for a great fiesta party? Let me know in the comments below.
And, as always, feel free to subscribe if you haven’t already to get all my latest blog posts. Also, like this post if you want to see more budget friendly party ideas in the future. Until next time…