When one of my daughter’s first words was D-d-d-dora I knew there was something special about this character. As a new mamá, I am watching children’s programs for the first time, getting to know what they are about and trying to figure out which are best for my daughter, Little L. Although she just turned 1, I do rely on some TV to help me with raising her bilingual. Little L’s exposure to Spanish is limited, and as I am away from most of my family and my country I appreciate all the help I can get — even when it comes from a 7-year-old cartoon character.

When it was time to plan her first birthday party and pick a theme, it was a no brainer: Dora the Explorer.

Not only does Little L adore Dora, I think she is an incredible role model for adults as well. Dora loves her familia and is proud of her culture; she is a great team player, cares for others, she is forgiving, adventurous but cautious, and is always trying to save the day. The fact that she is not only Latina but also bilingual just makes her even more extraordinary and a perfect example for Little L. I want my daughter to grow up with a kind heart like Dora’s and to be proud and confident to speak English, Spanish and why not Spanglish as well.

As a Latina food blogger I pay a lot of attention to the food I serve, so for this fiesta, I created a menu that was kid-friendly and that represented our Latino heritage. I took this as an opportunity to tell a story of our culture and language. Regardless of planning a Dora theme or not, we can all use food as a channel to engage and enrich our guests. To make the celebration and the menu more personal, I suggest you look into what matters most to you, what makes you unique and what you want to share about it. In this case, it was all about representing a side of Little L’s background that is friendly, lively, colorful, vibrant, diverse and welcoming. I was born and raised in the Dominican Republic and although that is what I am most proud of about my heritage, I realize Little L is going to grow up in a country where she will be mostly seen of Latino descent not just Dominican. So I incorporated a menu that was going to give a tour of the Americas including other Latin American countries and the U.S.

The idea was to use the menu as a map (Dora’s map) for guests to go around the party almost like on a scavenger hunt looking for dishes and food items listed on the map. The labels for the food served were written in español and in English. We encouraged guests to try to read and say terms they were not familiar with out loud, can you say ‘agua’?. This exercise became a fun part of the party and fostered great discussions and lots of learning from both sides. I think it’s an idea that can be applied to any party, so I want to share the menu I created for you to use at your next Dora or Latin inspired theme party.

In this HungryFoodLove post, I have included recipes, ideas and a printable PDF version of the map for you to download. Enjoy!

To check out Melissa’s post with a printable of the map mentioned above click here

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