Put out a few dips and nibbles to go with your main dish. For this fiesta, guests will love guacamole, salsas, jicama strips with lime and cayenne, spicy toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds), and jalapeño-stuffed olives.
8 of 13Photography by Andrea M. Gómez
Match activity and favors with your theme. Give santo candles (below; $2.95 each; mexgrocer.com).
9 of 13Photography by Andrea M. Gómez
Get in a festive state of mind by cracking open some piñatas from Rainbow Custom Made (above; from $40; 415/642-8606).
10 of 13Photography by Andrea M. Gómez
Filled with cheer
Stuff piñatas full of nostalgic candy (The Candy Store, 415/921-8000) to shower your guests with sweets.
Great dish + simple sides Cheese plate (set out a handful of cheeses in a range of styles and milk choices). Sunset loves Pondhopper semisoft goat cheese ($26 for 16 oz.; tumalofarms.com), Edam-style Tulare Cannonball ($14 for 14 oz.; bravofarms.com), and Crater Lake Blue ($25 for 16 oz.; roguecreamery.com). Add breads, crackers, fruit, and a variety of chocolates
Cool cocktail Sparkling wine. Try a classic brut style―a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, such as Iron Horse Classic Vintage Brut 2004 (Green Valley of Russian River Valley; $33)
Color scheme + decor idea Red and brown + tissue-paper flowers (fan-fold tissue paper and secure with pipe cleaner “stems”)
Fun activity Compare notes during cheese and chocolate tastings
Thoughtful favor Decorative notebooks for guests to record their favorite flavors