Puerto Rican-inspired Entertaining Ideas with an American Flair

Are you of Puerto Rican descent? Or even just fascinated by the island culture, cuisine, and music? Then, a Puerto Rican theme is definitely a must-try choice for a summer celebration! Think vibrant colors spicing up a sunny and breezy venue, ice-cold piña coladas, flavorful appetizers and finger foods, sweet traditional desserts, and guitar music strumming in the background. Now to capture the fun and fiery rhythms of Puerto Rico with an American flair through the entertaining details below! (*this post contains affiliate links)

Effortless Tablescape Styling Tips for a Puerto Rican Theme

Tip #1 – Use bold, contrasting colors—like our choice of aqua and brown—in your table linens, centerpiece elements, napkin accents, and the like.

Bright and bold table settings for a Puerto Rican American party luncheon

Tip #2 – Use hand-painted earthenware plates, palm leaf runners and placemats, and cuttings of summer flowers and foliage for a breezy Latin vibe.

Colorful accents and flowers

Tip #3 – Create simple centerpieces using fedoras or straw hats trimmed with tropical leaves, and DIY napkin accents made with brightly colored paper flowers.

Ceramic bowls and serving pieces

Tip #4 – Display signature Puerto Rican appetizers, finger foods, and sweets in glazed pottery serveware as eye-catching “edible decor”!

Shown in photo: Puerto Rican empanadas

Tip #5 – For party glass ware, set out tumblers and goblets in colored or tinted glass to complement your chosen palette.

Tip #6 – Mount your menu cards or table numbers on vintage-style Puerto Rican postcards.

Tip #7 – As a finishing touch to each place setting, have a wrapped favor or small gift waiting on top of the guest plates.

There’s nothing like the cuisine of a place to convey it’s special ambiance and flavor (literally!) to your party guests. See the fave recipes we found from Puerto Rico that you try, too!

Puerto Rican Favorites to Serve as Appetizers


One sure hit to serve would be Surullitos or Puerto Rican Corn Sticks (1 – recipe from Goya), made with cornmeal dough mixed with cheese, rolled into cigar shapes, fried, and served super-crispy with mayo ketchup. Super flavorful Garlic Shrimp (2 – recipe from Goya) seasoned with minced garlic and spicy chile flakes makes another great appetizer—but can also be served as a main dish with rice!

For a light, fresh option, try Salpicon de Cangrejo or Crab Meat Salad (3 – recipe from Que Rica Vida) so prettily served on individual lettuce leaves. And for something truly unique, Puerto Rican Alcapurrias Fritters (4 – recipe from Tbsp.com) featuring a ground beef-bell pepper filling wrapped in a dough made with yautía root (cocoyam) and plantain, then fried till golden.

Puerto Rican Dishes for a Seafood Buffet Table

With Puerto Rico being an island, setting up a seafood buffet at your party is such a fitting food choice! Here are 4 delicious recipes we found that would be perfect.

Puerto Rican seafood dishes

Asapao con Camarones or Puerto Rican Shrimp and Rice (1 – recipe from Kraft Recipes) is a filling, flavorful dish combining shrimp, smoked ham, and peppers cooked in rice. As a seafood side dish, prepare Bacalao (Salted Codfish) Salad (2 – recipe from Gluten Free Lite), a traditional dish found everywhere in Puerto Rico, usually served with root vegetables like cassava or sweet potato.

Also using the same popular fish are Bacalaitos or Codfish Fritters (3 – recipe from Dominican Cooking), little cakes made with a mixture of flaked fish, minced veggies,and egg then fried till deliciously crispy. And finally Mofongo (4 – recipe from Discover Puerto Rico), considered the unofficial national dish of Puerto Rico! This is traditionally made by mashing fried plantains then stuffing them with fillings like shrimp or octopus—or for non-seafood, beef, chicken, or vegetables.

Puerto Rican Sweet Treats as Party Desserts

You must, of course, offer your guests a sweet sampling of traditional Puerto Rican desserts. We have 4 scrumptious ones here for you to choose from!

Puerto Rican desserts

Puerto Rican Coconut Dessert (1 – recipe from Very Best Baking) is a chilled coconut pudding served with cinnamon sprinkled on top just before slicing.

Another staple in all Latin bakeries are rolled cakes. Here, Brazo Gitano or Guava Jelly Roll (2 – recipe from Goya) is a delicate sponge cake rolled up into a “gypsy’s arm” (hence the name!) with a guava fruit jam filling.

For an easy crowd pleaser, try the Puerto Rican take on Bread Pudding (3 – recipe from El Mejor Nido) with raisins flavoring the bread, eggs, and milk pudding and a sauce of caramelized sugar poured on top.

Arroz con Leche or Sweet Rice Pudding (4 – recipe from Power Airfryer 360) uses rice in place of bread, and is flavored with cinnamon and vanilla bean then topped with raisins and coconut cream.

Puerto Rican Drinks to Serve

Even your party beverages can be authentic, thanks to these recipes and ready-to-buy drinks we discovered!

Puerto Rican party drinks

There’s the classic Coquito or Puerto Rican Coconut Nog (1 – recipe from The Noshery), a creamy coconut rum drink that is essential to any Puerto Rican Christmas celebration (but great any time of year!), best served super cold.

Another widely popular beverage throughout Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean is Agua Fresca (2 – recipe from Goya). This mixture of puréed fresh fruit (choose your fave), water, and sugar would make a truly refreshing party drink.

You could also stock a cooler with canned beverages made in Puerto Rico and let guests take their pick! These are available from Amazon—Diet Coco Rico (3) natural coconut flavored soda and India Kola Champagne (4), a popular Puerto Rican soft drink.

An absolute must-serve is Classic Piña Colada (5 – recipe from Living in Puerto Rico), made with cream of coconut, pineapple juice, and rum. Garnish with a pineapple wedge and serve on the rocks or blended with ice.

Party Activities Set to Puerto Rican Music

A theme as full of dancing rhythms as this just has to have activities that get guests into the beat! Here are 4 ideas that will do just that (available from Amazon).


  1. Have guests dance to a CD of Puerto Rican music.  Putumayo Presents Audio CD.
  2. For avid board game players, Puerto Rico should be a fun game to play at this party!
  3. Play a game of dominoes with a Puerto Rican theme.
  4. Provide percussion instruments for guests to play along with recorded Puerto Rican tunes. Basic choices (available on Amazon) could be mini rawhide maracas and a percussion cowbell—both bearing the Puerto Rican flag.

Other suggested activities:

  • Hire a dance coach or two to teach popular Puerto Rican dance steps.
  • Have a live group (for hire in your area) perform Puerto Rican guitar music.

Guest Favors to Mark the Occasion

How fun would it be to send each guest off with a themed memento of this Puerto Rican party!

Shell trays with candies for a Puerto Rican American party

First, give your guests candies in shell dishes that can be taken home as soap or trinket holders (a Bellenza SHOP exclusive). These can be packaged in colorful wraps of assorted colors. The wraps can also be used to give any of the following items:

  1. Vintage Travel Puerto Rico Coasters (Set of 4, Wood)
  2. Cool Pineapple with Sunglasses Hanging Paper Air Freshener (Piña colada scent)
  3. Baja Bob’s Piña Colada Mix (43g packet)
  4. Yost Gourmet Pops, Piña Colada (80 Count Tub)
  5. Puerto Rican Flag Novelty Golf Balls (3 Pack)
  6. Puerto Rico USA Flag Twin Heart Novelty Socks (One Size)
  7. Puerto Rican Flag 2 X Logo Guitar Pick Earrings
  8. Puerto Rico American Flag Luggage Tag

Loving the decor, food, drinks, desserts, music, and favors that all capture that Puerto Rican ambiance! Clearly, this is one summer party you and your guests will not soon forget!

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