A Mexican menu served at a day of the dead festival
Is there a more perfect Disney Dinners theme for October than Coco? The movie celebrates Mexican culture so beautifully and explains what makes Dia De Los Muertos so important. It’s visually beautiful with its vibrant colors and abundance of flowers and will keep you humming its guitar-heavy soundtrack all night long.
This was such a fun, relaxed dinner party because I served the main course family style. Bonus: I fed six people for less than $30 and had leftovers. While this is in no way a budget blog, it’s worth noting because that, my friends, is a Disney Dinners record! Here’s how I threw a Coco themed dinner party for adults!
I was going for the look of the day of the dead festival in Miguel’s small town: an abundance of flowers and colors. I hung colorful Mexican banners in my dining room doorway and one with a guitar theme on my china cabinet, which I topped with a real guitar (thanks to musician Denver Lee!) because, of course, the guitar is a major element throughout the film.
“The music, it’s not just in me, it is me. When life gets me down, I play my guitar.” – Miguel
I burned a churro (cinnamon vanilla) candle to set the mood and tucked fiesta fans around my existing art work. I have been swapping out my art for much of Disney Dinners, but it’s important to me to show you various entertaining ideas throughout this series.
I adorned the table with a black tablecloth (you may remember it from Disney Dinners: Pirates of the Caribbean or from my Dinner Noir party) with a bold twist: I cut a large Mexican day of the dead banner into placemats. Kind of crazy, I know, but no placemat seemed appropriate for the theme and this was so fun and colorful – not to mention cheap!
I love all of the orange carnations seen in Coco. They are everywhere. I worried when I was planning Coco that I wouldn’t be able to find orange carnations at the supermarket so I ordered these giant orange paper puffs instead to be reminiscent of the orange carnations seen in the movie. I had three as a centerpiece and more tucked in the china cabinet, around the side table, and even hanging from my curtain rod!
I styled my side table with orange carnations, photos of my own ancestors, day of the dead figurines, and a day of the dead candle. Since family is such a prominent theme in Coco, it was especially fun to have my mama as my date!
“Never forget how much your family cares for you.” – Mama Imelda
Because of the paper flower centerpiece, I opted for individual bud vases with a pair of magenta carnations at each place setting. Purple is a great day of the dead color and is a nod to Mama Imelda’s dress.
The Place Settings
I already touched on the place settings in the Table section, but the fun thing about Coco was that each person had a different colored placemat. I used my Emma dishes from Pottery Barn with a marigold napkin nestled in between with a little tail sticking out.
Fun fact: my mom stopped by my house to feed my dog lunch the day before Coco when I was out on a long work day and called me in a panic pleading with me that I change my napkin choice. She had already googled and found these marigold napkins at Pier 1 for me by the time I called back and I stopped and bought them on my way home. The marigold was a last minute change and I love how it looks!
I played Latin music all night long and just loved the vibe it gave. I kept shimmying while I was cooking!
“One cannot deny who one is meant to be.” – De La Cruz
I realized way too late that I should have Disney bounded at Imelda but alas, I had this dress in mind for months. It’s super Mexican looking to me and red is the color of Miguel’s sweatshirt. I wore my hair long and curly with a rose in my hair.
I thought my guests looked particularly fantastic at Coco! They really got in the day of the dead spirit. Check it out!
I served strawberry margaritas for three reasons: (1) margaritas are classic with Mexican food, (2) I happen to own six fabulous margaritas glasses, and (3) I don’t actually like tequila so I snuck it to what is essentially an alcoholic smoothie. This is a simple recipe made using fresh strawberries, tequila, simple syrup, freshly squeezed lime juice, and grand marnier, served with a salted rim and lime slice. Get the recipe here.
I’m Texan so you better believe I’ve been eating Mexican food since I was tiny. Now I admit, I most commonly cook Tex Mex, which is different but the principals are still the same. I came up with this pork carnitas recipe specifically for Coco and got rave reviews. It takes just minutes to get going in the morning and it makes the house smell amazing. I didn’t want to stuff everyone silly so I started off light with some homemade guacamole so everyone would have room for the best tres leches cake I’ve ever made.
Some people love a ton of spices in their guacamole but I like classic guac…with garlic. Be sure to serve it with my favorite chips, Julio’s. No, they did not in any way sponsor Coco or even send me chips, but as a public service announcement I have to tell you, they’re the best tortilla chips I’ve ever had. Try them! And get my guacamole recipe here.
The flavor that this pulled pork packs in unbelievable. My rub consists of oregano, cumin, paprika, brown sugar, salt, pepper, and olive oil. A four-pound bone-in pork shoulder then hangs out in the slow cooker all day with orange juice, lime juice, onions, and garlic. It’s pure heaven by the time you fry it up and throw it in flour tortillas with cojita, avocado, and cilantro. Hit it with a squeeze of lime and you’ll be swooning. Get the recipe here.
Black Bean and Corn Salad
This is a great little side dish to complement whatever Mexican dish you’re making. You can make it in the morning and forget about it until dinner. Feel free to add heat with jalapeño if you so desire. Get the recipe here.
Cinnamon Vanilla Bean Tres Leches
Although I love how moist tres leches is, I find it to be a pretty boring dessert so I upped the flavor profile with Mexican vanilla, Mexican vanilla bean, and cinnamon whipped cream. I served each slice with strawberries and caramel sauce and man, oh man, was it good! Get the recipe here.
“The rest of the world may follow the rules, but I must follow my heart.” – De La Cruz
Stay tuned because next month is Disney Dinners: Aladdin!
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