What’s a true fiesta without rainbow-colored banners as Cinco de Mayo decorations. Hang them across your ceiling to set the scene or pin them on your wall as part of a photo backdrop.

Take your party to the next level with papel picado. This traditional Mexican craft literally means “perforated paper.” Here, elaborate designs are cut into colored tissue, which are strung together as a banner.

White Christmas tree from Treetopia with Cinco de Mayo decorations by Jennifer Perkins

Another great use of the papel picado banner? A tree garland, according to craft queen Jennifer Perkins. A mini papel picado banner (plus faux flowers and piñatas) make the perfect ornaments if you’re rolling out your Christmas tree for Cinco de Mayo. Learn how to craft your own banner in this step-by-step guide from Jennifer.


Jen’s Cinco de Mayo Tree with DIY Papel Picado Banner

For my family living in Texas, Cinco de Mayo doesn’t go unnoticed. My daughter learned about it in school and whenever the holiday looms near, piñatas are sold at the grocery store. It only makes sense to celebrate the holiday at home as well. Of course, that means customizing our Cinco de Mayo décor.

At first, I thought I would recreate my Feliz Navidad tree, but how much more could I improve on cactus plants, mini piñatas, and souvenir skirts? I know! I needed colorful paper and a papel picado banner. Here’s how you can recreate my Cinco de Mayo tree:

1. Get these supplies ready.

  • Treetopia white tree
  • Colorful paper
  • A die cutting machine (like the Sizzix Big Shot) 
  • Papel picado-shaped die cuts and stamps
  • Acrylic stamp block
  • Embossing supplies (ink pad, embossing gun, and powder)
  • Hole reinforcement stickers
  • Baker’s twine

2. Cut your paper into banner pieces.

You can use stamp and die sets meant for scrapbooking, card making, or planner decorating for this mini banner. For precise patterns, run the paper through your die cutting machine with papel picado-shaped die cuts. Alternatively, you can simply trace banner shapes on your colorful paper and cut them out with your trusty craft scissors.

No embossing supplies? No problem. You can substitute with good old glitter and glue.

3. Get stamping!

Place your stamp on an acrylic stamp block, then on an embossing ink pad. Do this on a flat surface to make sure you evenly distribute the ink. Then, stamp your banner pieces.

4. Emboss the pattern.

Don’t let the ink dry! Coat the banner piece in embossing powder, and shake off the excess. Use your embossing gun to melt and set the powder in place. 

Treetopia white tree decorated with custom Cinco de Mayo decor
Download free papel picado patterns online. Or, design your own patterns.

5. Assemble the mini papel picado banner.

Give the embossed banner pieces time to cool down. Then, string them on the baker’s twine. Stick half of the hole reinforcement sticker on the top portion of a banner piece, then hook it on the twine. The next step is to stick the other half on the other side. Repeat this process with all the pieces.

Faux flowers, a mini papel picado garland, and a piñata tree topper on a white tree
Match your banner with other Mexican-themed ornaments like tissue paper flowers and mini piñatas.

6. String the garland on your tree.

If your banner is long enough, you can wind it all around your tree. If not, display it on one side. Strategically place your other ornaments, if any, in the spaces between the rows of the papel picado banner.

Tip: You can also use your mini papel picado banner to decorate cakes, scrapbooks, and self-serve taco or margarita bars.

I was pleased as punch with how my banner looked on the tree! To complete my Cinco de Mayo decorations, my cactus and mini piñatas came back out to play. I also updated with tons of colorful faux flowers to help welcome spring.

Papel picado banners typically have intricate patterns and silhouettes of birds and flowers.
Designate an area as your Cinco de Mayo photo backdrop. Don’t forget to say, “Queso!”

Last, but not least, I had to hang a real papel picado banner to reflect the mini version I used as a garland. I can’t wait to turn this baby on when May 5th comes around and sip a few margaritas under the glow of my fabulously decorated tree!

Images courtesy of Jennifer Perkins


This crafty project is just one of the many ways to dress up your white Christmas tree. Also, you can use other colorful trees as your centerpiece for your upcoming fiesta.

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Tip: The great thing about a white Christmas tree is that it’s like a blank sheet of paper that you can fill up with your colorful creations. Read our guide to decorating white trees for more ideas.

More DIY Cinco de Mayo Decorations for Your Fiesta

For more inspiration, here are other Cinco de Mayo party ideas that will make you say, “Olé!”

Say It with Papel Picado Statements

Take your cue from Lia Griffith and carve out words on your papel picado ornaments.

Get inspired by Lia Griffith’s Dia de los Muertos tree and cut out words or statements on your papel picado banners. White tissue paper will look great on dark tree foliage. Check out the effect on the Stiletto Black Pencil Tree above. You can stick to the classic vivid hues of the holiday, too.

Put a Piñata on Top

A white Christmas tree with papel picado ornaments
Aside from a llama, you can craft stars, tacos, or even a “piña” piñata!

To craft this ornament, you’ll need crepe streamers and paper maché. The latter is the art of creating decorative objects with paper strips or pulp and adhesive paste. Don’t forget the matching lanterns to complement your piñata tree topper! Another idea is to use various metallic streamers for a disco ball piñata.

Roll Out the Cinco de Mayo Rainbow

Treetopia Color Burst Rainbow Christmas tree
It’s nacho-ordinary Christmas tree.

Complete your Cinco de Mayo party with the Color Burst Rainbow Tree. It’s a fun decoration that will be the taco-the-town. Same goes for the Color Burst Rainbow Wreath. All you need are lights to make it a sparkly eye candy. Or, maybe accent it with some white papel picado?

Fold Handfuls of Faux Flowers

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If you have spare colored tissue paper, try easy DIY faux flowers. Create pom poms in various sizes and hues for your photo backdrops, dining centerpieces, and more. 

Make Mariachi Music Ornaments

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If you aren’t familiar with Mariachi, it’s Mexican folk music played with string instruments by musicians dressed in their native costumes. Use this as your inspiration and fashion felt or various fabrics into ornaments. Some ideas are Mexican guitars, musicians, and maybe even dancers. 

Get Creative with Cactus Crochets

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Another unique Cinco de Mayo crafting project is to crochet tree ornaments. Aside from cacti, you can also knit sombreros, tacos, and other elements of your Cinco de Mayo party. 

Craft with a Cheery Chihuahua Theme

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Did you know that chihuahuas are native to Mexico? Cities like Washington DC and Denver, Colorado even celebrate Cinco de Mayo with chihuahua races. Bring this fun tradition indoors and create unconventional yet totally cute ornaments. 

We hope these cool Cinco de Mayo decorations inspire your upcoming celebrations. Share these ideas with friends who are gearing up for a fiesta. And, if you have other tips or hacks, share them with other readers by leaving a comment below. Happy Cinco de Mayo!