The holidays either bring out the worst in people or the very best. There’s the stress of finding the perfect gifts, planning and hosting parties, and the idea of traveling to visit family during the craziest time to travel.
If you keep in mind, however, that the holiday season is meant to be with loved ones and celebrate all of your blessings, then it will put everything in perspective. Besides, holiday stress can easily be fixed with some fine tequila.
If you’re hosting any holiday event this season and you’d like to spruce it up by doing away with the basic Christmas or New Year’s Eve decoration, you can easily glam it up in a Latino-themed style. Why Latino-themed? Because velas, piñatas, and Frida instantly make people happy.
Here are some ideas for your holiday table that will make your guests ooh and ahh, no doubt.
Use any Latin-brand can as a vase.
We already recycle cans and jars thanks to our abuelas teaching us to. Use those cans and create a unique table setting by adding an eclectic array of your favorite canned Latin goods and using them as vases. The table will instantly have a pop of color and your guests might feel some nostalgia seeing the various cans from their childhoods.
Papel picado as mistletoe.
CREDIT: Love and Cupcakes
Convert any typical holiday decor, like mistletoe, with colorful papel picado. You can hang them around, and also place them bunched together at the center of each table. It’s a colorful and unexpected way to change things up with just a little bit of effort.
Red hot chili wreaths and/or candle holders.
CREDIT: Wind and Weather
If you’re not interested in buying dozens upon dozens of red chili peppers to decorate, you can buy fake ones pretty easily. These might look like a little too much but everyone will remember the amazing way you used chili peppers for your holiday decor.
Ribbons and flowers in the colors of your flag.
Being Mexican makes this one super easy since the color scheme is the same but you can always add some ribbons to your poinsettias. Give your guests and familia a little something special with the colors of your family’s flag all over the place.
A sarape table cloth.
By replacing a random tablecloth with a sarape, you can quickly transform the vibe from a boring holiday party to a poppin’ fiesta. Simple. Cheap. Cultural.
Extra sarape material? Use it as stocking name cards.
Cut a stocking pattern on cardboard or poster board and wrapping it with sarape material. Then write people’s names on the white portion, and bam! Instant name cards.
Create festive cornhusks for coasters, candle holders and/or wreaths.
Click here for a YouTube tutorial that shows how to make these cute cornhusk decorations. Just remember to wrap your color ribbon as well. There is something so special about seeing handmade decorations.
Nacimiento centerpieces are guaranteed to please.
This particular centerpiece may seem a little complicated but it’s just an example of how to craft any sort of arrangement. This nacimiento can easily be recreated at your local Color Me Mine. You can also get an inexpensive basket and put your nativity scene inside and place them as centerpieces, this way people can take them home!
Concha coasters or ornaments.
These conchas, made out of felt (which you can get at your local craft store), can be created to use as coasters! For an extra flair use glitter to make them more festive.
A bottle of tequila, a couple of poinsettias, and a sarape runner.
This table setting looks stunning and can be easily replicated. Aside from the bottle of tequila, which you’ll need anyway, and the poinsettias, you can add your favorite Latin candy, candles, and a Latin-themed runner.
La Virgen de Guadalupe velas and mini-candles.
The table setting above may look like it’s ready to celebrate Day of the Dead, but it can certainly work for the holidays. All you have to do is replace the orange flowers, with red roses, or poinsettias. Then adorn the center of the table with Virgen de Guadalupe velas that you can get at the grocery store or just click here.
For many Latinos, tamales represent more than just a dish served during the holidays. For some, it might symbolize memories of spending hours pulling masa with family or eating tamales weeks after Navidad. They are beloved in Mexico and beyond, and with good reason. They are soft, warm, tasty, delicious treats, and good for almost any occasion, special or otherwise. Not to mention that you are porbably eating one today for lunch and nother for dinner because there are so many left over from your holiday celebrations.
1. Burnt Strawberry Tamales
Courtesy of Chef Carlos Salgaldo, these delicious tamales are made by cooking strawberries into a skillet, then mixing them into a buttery masa filling. This is tasty twist on your traditional tamales that strawberry lovers can enjoy. This is a dish that can be easily be tried making at home this holiday season with family and friends.
2. Pollo Con Mole Poblano Tamale
urbantaco / Instagram
This tamale dish can be found in the heart of Dallas, Texas at Urban Taco, a Mexican restaurant that is taking a new spin on what “traditional” is. The Pollo Con Mole Poblano Tamale is a tasty delicacy that fans of mole will certainly enjoy. It’s origins date back to Oaxaca, where mole is one of the regions most famous dishes. This should definitely be on your radar next time you’re in the heart of Texas.
3. Chicken Tamales with Tomatillo-Cilantro Salsa
Cilantro can pack any dish with much needed flavor and that’s the case here with the chicken tamales with Tomatillo-Cilantro salsa. This Mexican-inspired dish is a nice flavorful addition to a traditional tamale with it’s tomato cilantro sauce.
4. Apple Butternut Squash Tamale (Vegan)
sunnysidetamales / Instagram
If meat in your tamale isn’t your thing then this vegan tamale might be your go-to this holiday season. Sunny Side Tamales in Downey, CA makes these tasty tamales and are a great healthy alternative that includes apples, butternut squash and walnuts. This should help keep your holiday dieta goals in tact this year.
5. Hot Cheeto Tamale
fatimas_grill / Instagram
Say hello to the Hot Cheeto tamale! A creation many didn’t think was possible but here it is ready to spice up your holidays. A creation from Fatima’s Grill in Downey, CA, this tamale packs a spicy punch that only Hot Cheetos can give. Drizzled with nacho cheese and Hot Cheeto crumbles, this tamale will have you licking your fingers right after.
6. Gansito Tamale
Gansito snacks filled your childhood with so many delicious memories it’s no surprise that it’s now paired with tamales. Just thinking about the strawberry masa and chocolate Gansito inside makes your mouth water. Churrito Loco located in Moreno Valley, CA sells these delicacies and have already become quite a hit. I’m sure this is one tamale many people will try making at home this holiday season.
7. Strawberry & Cream Cheese Tamale
magalystamalesandmexicangrill / Instagram
Strawberry and Cream Cheese are a great combination alone but combining them into a tamale? Oh yeah! This tamale is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth and your stomach. Magaly’s Tamales and Mexican Grill is the proud creator of this tasty treat and have managed to merge together two of our favorite snacks into one.
8. Tamales de Chocolate y Nuez
What’s not to love here with the as a chocolate based masa takes place of your traditional corn base. With a hint of chile and lightly sweetened with piloncillo, the Tamales de Chocolate y Nuez is sweet treat that every Latino can enjoy. Filled with pecans and chocolate chips these tamales would taste great with a side of cafecito this Navidad.
9. Bean Cheese and Potato Tamale
Sometimes you just got to keep things simple and that applies here with the Bean Cheese and Potato Tamale. These Mexican inspired tamales have an added kick with the addition of Chipotle peppers in Adobo sauce that pack a serious flavorful punch. These are a quick and tasty reiteration of your traditional tamale that everyone in the family will be snacking on.
10. Cookies N’ Cream Tamale
tamaleslosguajardo / Instagram
These tasty treat has people buzzing across the internet and rightfully so. Combining chocolate and tamale is nothing new, so this Mexican restaurant took it to the next level with the Cookies N’ Cream Tamale! Filled with Oreo cream stuffing and a chocolate masa, this tamale might already have you drooling just thinking about it.
11. Spinach Corn Elote
tamaleslosguajardo / Instagram
Looking for something a little on the healthier side? The spinach and corn tamale might just be for you. Filled with cheese, spinach and corn, this tamale has all your essentials when looking for something a little lighter for the holidays. It also works great for vegan only eaters in your family.
12. Black Bean Tamale
Black beans are some of the healthiest types of beans filled with protein and iron that are an essential part of any diet. These black bean tamales are great for vegetarians and vegans as well. The tamale is filled with black beans, onion and a chipotle seasoned masa that will surely please your taste buds.
13. Portobello and Polenta Tamales
Wrapped with a corn husk, the portobello and polenta tamale tastes as good as it looks. The distinguishing part of this tamale isn’t just the corn husk but the addition of portobello mushroom that adds a kick. Highly recommend this plate if having friends over and want to impress this holiday season.
14. Chile Rojo Tamale
paraisojuicebar / Instagram
You can’t beat a classic and that’s the case here with the Chile Rojo tamale that many of us grew up eating. Filled with pork, chicken or sometimes beef, the Chile Rojo tamale is a holiday essential. Try adding cilantro or adding some corn to add some more kick into it.
15. Smoky Fiesta Black Bean Tamale
Here’s another healthy option for vegetarian and vegans eaters with the Smoky Fiesta Black Bean Tamale. Mixed in with green chilies and red bell peppers, it’s hard to not want to try this tamale. Try adding some chipotle sauce to dip in to add even more flavor.
16. Pico de Gallo Green Chile Tamale
shanestamales / Instagram
Pico de Gallo is traditionally used for dipping when it comes to your chips but here it’s part of the main dish, Smothered with cilantro, green chile, and crema ranchera, it’s going to feel like taking a bit out of a burrito. Shane’s Tamales, a vegan tamale vendor in Los Angeles, is behind this dish and works for vegan eaters as well.
17. Sweet Pina Tamale
tamalesdonateretx / Instagram
Candy tamales are nothing new but Tamales Doña Tere has managed to put together quite a spin on it. The Sweet Pina tamale grabs your attention with it pink coloring but the real treat is inside with its sweet taste. There are multiple locations across the U.S. if you want to try this and other specialty tamales.
18. Chipotle Sweet Potato Tamale
Sweet Potato Fries are a healthier alternative to traditional french fries and this is the case here with the Chipotle Sweet Potato Tamale. With more people seeking alternatives when it comes to traditional tamales, sweet potatoes work here as a great and tasty substitute.
19. Chicken Tamale Pizza
While this technically isn’t a “tamale” it has everything a tamale lover can appreciate including a crust! If you want to impress family and friends this holiday with something unique, this might be it. It also works as a gluten-free option and as always meat is optional.
20. Tamale Colordado
The Tamale Colorado is one of the most popular version of the tamale for Guatemalans and is traditionally eaten on Saturdays. The tamale has a dark red savory sauce and contains chicken, pork, or beef alongside green olives. One way to recognize this tamale is with its traditional green wrapping that is seen in most Central American versions of the tamale.
21. Tamal de Carne en Mole
pincheveganchef / Instagram
The Tamal de Carne en Mole is one of the best-looking tamales out there and is a specialty that everyone should taste. Cooked in mole rojo and filled with cheese and bell peppers, it’s a perfect combination for mole and tamale lovers.
Starbucks loves to make season drinks because, well, they sell. The pumpkin spice latte has transcended the regular life of a coffee beverage and has become a cultural phenomenon that won’t end. The unicorn frappuccino is another example of Starbucks using their reach and money to create timely and quickly forgotten drinks to follow trends. Now, there is a coquito frappuccino that has left the internet divided. Some people are excited to see their culture reach new heights while others can’t wait for it to be over.
This is typically how we are used to seeing coquito.
CREDIT: @lala / Twitter
Either your abuela and tías make it for the family or there is one specific brand that is always bought around this time of year. No matter how it is made or purchased it is always cradled lovingly in your abuela’s arms when you first get to her house for Christmas.
Now, Starbucks is getting in on the trend.
CREDIT: @Starbucks / Twitter
We don’t know how long it will last but the drin is being made by name in the Starbucks’ in Puerto Rico. There are ways to order the drink on the mainland but you have to come prepared with a list of ingredients.
The only online proof of this beverage is in this sign.
CREDIT: @Darleen42499267 / Twitter
The photo has gone viral with people retweeting and sharing the image at lightning speed. Some people are super stoked to get a chance to let their culture shine. Others are over the capitalistic nature of Starbucks using their culture.
Gentrification has been a major issue raised by those bothered by this drink.
CREDIT: @call_me_lexxi / Twitter
The drink is similar to their eggnog frappuccino just with some coconut added to imitate the flavor of coquito.
There are people we are delighted that their proud Puerto Rican culture is being celebrated.
CREDIT: @candace_pedraza / Twitter
Starbucks has publicly acknowledged that they wanted to change their image since the pumpkin spice latte has been deemed super basic. This is a start in that campaign to be more than just basic drinks for basic people.
A few Puerto Ricans on Twitter quickly mocked those who were so upset about the drink.
CREDIT: @morrisseysucks / Twitter
It really isn’t offensive for someone to make foods inspired by different cultures. Fusion cuisines exist because people feel an appreciation to the foods and look to make them as delicious as they can.
A whole other sector is just straight up laughing at the idea.
CREDIT: @AverageGirlT / Twitter
It is pretty interesting that the coquito drink would be available in Puerto Rico where you can get real coquito anywhere. When will the drink come to New York for the Puerto Rican community living there?
Some of the Puerto Rican diasporas is even asking that Starbucks expand the flavor.
CREDIT: @jetwithjen / Twitter
Understandable. There is a huge Puerto Rican population in Orlando and those people would probably love the idea of a nice coquito frappuccino on the way to work.
Starbucks is still testing the Puerto Rican market.
CREDIT: @Starbucks / Twitter
We have no idea how successful it is and we can’t seem to find any promotional material online. If it is successful, however, we need this on the mainland ASAP.
Let me tell you the ingredients for Starbucks coquito.
CREDIT: @MisterrPenguin / Twitter
It’s white mocha syrup and coconut syrup with a sprinkle of cinnamon on top. It’s not close to the real coquito but when you produce things in mass without the culture nuances, this is what it look like.
Many people are asking where the rum at?
CREDIT: @marielaregal / Twitter
The reason we all love coquito so much is because it kicks off the party. Obviously, Starbucks won’t be selling boozy coquito but the people can dream, right?
Some people are truly torn over the drink.
CREDIT: @WinkWinkWinki / Twitter
Tourists may have a coquito frappuccino to taste the famous drink instead of buying it from a local vendor. People might argue that it’s a money-making gimmick but some people might really appreciate the idea.
The vast majority of dissenters are asking if the cultural appropriation will benefit anyone besides Starbucks.
CREDIT: @beatzmarz / Twitter
Seems like it might be a good idea to tie this into the relief efforts in Puerto Rico since the island is still recovering and it is Christmas.
Starbucks did send some relief to Puerto Rico to help the farmers.
CREDIT: @ashleymwlopez / Twitter
Apparently, they donated 2 million coffee seeds to Puerto Rican farmers and helped sponsor the Somos benefit initiated by Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony. That’s truly wonderful, and it’s important to highlight when corporations give back to the communities that helped build them up.
They claim the seeds they gave were non-GMO.
CREDIT: @TainoAnomaly / Twitter
Starbucks donated 2 million seeds to coffee farmers throughout the island to help restart the coffee growing industry on the island. They have also partnered with World Coffee Research to enhance the quality of coffee beans produced in Puerto Rico.
Starbucks is responding to people on Twitter letting them know that they are heard and that Starbucks is committed to helping the island.
CREDIT: @Starbucks / Twitter
Only time will tell if the drink is something that will stay around or just a flash in the pan.
Some critics are not appeased with Starbucks donating money and coffee beans to devastated farmers.
CREDIT: @TainoAnomaly / Twitter
With so much happening on the island, the drink is becoming a way for people to further voice their anger with how Puerto Rico has been treated since Hurricane Maria.
Some have raised concerns over “Our Puerto Rican Flavors” being the tagline.
CREDIT: @MarcusShepard / Twitter
There hasn’t been any news yet as to whether or not Starbucks with donate any proceeds to Puerto Rico or nonprofits helping the island. The phrase is offending people for its cultural appropriation.
We all just have to wait and see if the drink will be good or bad for the Starbucks brand.