Cinco de Mayo: Traditional Mexican Folk Art Paper Craft [Video]

Watch me prepare crafts for Cinco de Mayo


Hello LBT!


Cinco de Mayo, a day of pride and celebration for Mexico’s victory over the French forces at the Battle of Puebla in 1862, is just around the corner and if you’re attending or hosting a party, it’s time to decorate for the fiesta! This year, the celebration falls on a Tuesday, but many people, like myself, will be attending and hosting festivities this coming weekend.

As my mom and I were talking about the upcoming holiday, she reminded me of all the fun paper decorations we made during my childhood to celebrate our Mexican culture–paper flowers and lanterns, piñatas, and papel picados.

These are all traditional Mexican folk art craft techniques that have been passed down through the generations.  I’m not exactly sure why paper art became so popular in Mexico. Some resources say that paper crafting made its way from Asia to Mexico via the Manila Galleons that crossed the Pacific Ocean from the Philippines to Acapulco, Mexico. The galleons would carry tissue paper– “papel de China” (paper from China) or “papel de seda” (paper of silk).

Other resources state that it became so popular to make these decorations because they were inexpensive and could also provide decor when the weather was inclement and could not provide natural decor like flowers.

Since then, paper crafting has taken on many forms of decoration in the Mexican culture, such as cascarones (hollowed out eggs decorated with tissue paper and filled with confetti–which I previously showed you how to make in my Easter blog), pinatas (animal figures made of paper and filled with treats), papel picado (punched paper artwork) and paper flowers and lanterns.

Whatever the reason it became popular, paper folk art brings a fun festive touch to your fiesta, and can be made relatively quickly and on the cheap! Get your kids to help or have your friends come over, whip up some margaritas, and start the crafting party!

Let’s take a look at a couple of paper craft techniques that you can easily learn to create a true Mexican experience at your party!

Paper Lanterns:

The first easy craft I want to show you how to make are these easy paper lanterns that can be used outdoors to create some evening drama once you light them up with battery operated tea lights

Paper Lanterns


Check out these easy step by step directions to make these lanterns. Just dig out your colorful cocktail napkins and start cutting!


Here are some fun ways I’m using my paper lanterns to decorate as well as some other traditional Mexican décor like paper flowers and papel picados. A decorated bottle of tequila makes a great party gift!

Paper Flowers:

The next thing I want to show you how to make are these fun Mexican flower bouquets that really bring some “gran estilo” to your party! The flowers are meant to mimic the dahlia which is native to Mexico. Once you have the basic technique down, you can create lots of unique variations to your dahlias just like you would find in nature!

See my quick steps to make these fun flowers! My quick demo video making it easy for you to be a Cinco de Mayo superstar!


Paper flowers

Once you have the basic steps down, you can mix up various colors of tissue paper to create multi effect flowers.


You can use larger pieces of tissue paper to make prize-winning super size flowers!


You can vary the edge cut on your accordian pleated tissue paper to have a sharp point mimicking “cactus” shape dahlias.


You don’t need a ton of flowers either. A single stem in a Mexican beer bottle or vase looks genuinely “Cinco de Mayo”!


You still plenty of time to get your crafting paper and scissors out to create a traditional fiesta atmosphere! Just add a few guests, margaritas, guacamole, and you have a party! Viva Mexico!


Tina Trevino
Tina Trevino
Tina Trevino, Partner & Director of Community Relations for Latin Biz Today is President & CEO of Tocaya Design under which she does design consulting for major apparel companies as well as designs, manufactures and markets her women’s lifestyle brand, Tocaya. With 25 years of industry experience most recently as Design Director of KBL Group Intl. Ltd., she has managed large creative design teams. Trevino provides insight on upcoming fashion trends for each season collaborating with designers, merchants and product development teams to help develop brand appropriate apparel. She specializes in sweaters, knits and wovens. Having previously worked with private label brands for stores like Kohl’s, NY & Co, White House|Black Market, and Ann Taylor to name a few as well as brands like Lee jeans, Wendy Williams, Brooke Shields Timeless, Torn by Ronny Kobo, and Whitney Port, she has the ability to build brands from the design and merchandising process all the way through fitting, production, and marketing.