How to Host a Tamalada Party

In the Latin culture, tamales are a traditional Christmas dish—and making them is part of the holiday, too. Every year, family members gather for a tamalada, a day-long tamale-making party, in preparation for the feast. Here's how to host a tamalada of your own!

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Corn masa flour and corn husks for preparing tamales.
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Stock Your Kitchen

Plan to shop a day or two before the party to gather all of the ingredients you’ll need. Pick up an abundance of corn husks, masa harina (corn flour), meats, vegetables and spices, as well as drinks, snacks and other refreshments.

Start with our Chicken Tamales recipe for the basics!

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Collection of colorful red, green, blue, orange, biege dishes on white background

Bring Out Your Bowls

Pull out your kitchen’s most brightly colored mixing bowls to liven up the atmosphere and set the stage for an entertaining and memorable tamalada. It never hurts to have extra bowls, spoons, napkins or utensils on hand, too.

Learn why your old-school Fiestaware could be worth thousands.

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corn husks soaking
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Prep Your Space

The day of the party, make enough masa for all of the tamales. Then, soak the corn husks for at least two hours so they are flexible enough to roll up. Set out all of the tamale ingredients in order, at a reachable distance and with enough “elbow room” for easy assembly.

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dad and daughter cooking in kitchen.

Cook the Fillings Together

From chicken and beef to vegetable and even pineapple, you can fill tamales with all sorts of flavors. If you have a large stove for stirring and similar plan to make the fillings together; otherwise, they can easily be prepped the night before.

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Colorful traditional Mexican guitars on market.
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Play Fun Music

What’s a party without music? You can create your own playlist or find a curated medley of Latin-inspired music to play while making (and eating) the tamales. Singing and dancing are encouraged—it makes the tamalada feel more like a party!

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Mexican food mixed guacamole nachos chili sauce dipping cheddar cheese lemon pico de gallo
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Serve Other Delicious Snacks

In addition to tamales, you’ll want to serve a variety of tasty snacks and apps at your tamalada. To take a bit of weight of your shoulders (and not your wallet), ask guests to bring a shareable snack or side dish for everyone to nosh on throughout the day.

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Production of hot tamales

Get Everyone Involved

A tamalada is an “all hands on deck” occasion. Each and every guest—even the ones with small hands—should play a role to make sure the tamale-making process runs smoothly. Let the kids pull corn husks out of the water while more experienced cooks spread the masa and add fillings.

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Preparing tamales during the day.

Teach the Art of Tamale-Making

You’ll want to assemble the first tamale. Show your guests how to coat the corn husks with dough, add filling and fold ’em up. It’s an easy process to teach and learn, so don’t worry! Follow our step-by-step guide to practice making tamales beforehand.

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Colorful Traditional Mexican food dishes tamales

Send People Home with Plenty to Eat

The average tamale recipe makes a couple dozen tamales, so plan on having leftovers! You’ll want to provide plenty of to-go Tupperware containers for guests to pack and take home tamales after the party.

Ceara Milligan
Ceara “Kiwi” Milligan is a professional marketing strategist and copywriter who is proud to call Milwaukee home. She loves baking, cooking, writing, listening to music, dancing, playing and hosting trivia, watching college basketball (Go Marquette!), telling lame jokes, and petting every dog that crosses her path.