Bilingual Programs Chapter

By Priscilla Suárez and Vanessa Sáenz

Teen Program: Mis Quince: Preparing For Your Quinceañera

Program Description

In many Hispanic cultures, a quinceañera (15th birthday celebration) is an event a young girl looks forward to as much as a bride does her wedding day. It is not simply a birthday party, but rather is a grand festivity that takes much planning, gathering friends and relatives together to celebrate a young girl’s transition from childhood to womanhood. There are many traditions to follow, which may vary according to culture and religion. In some cultures, young men also celebrate their “quince”. This program offers teens the opportunity to experience the planning, traditions, and purpose of a quinceañera celebration in preparation for their own party.

Length of Program

1 ½ to 2 hours


In advance, prepare the handouts outlined below. Distribute these at the program.

Book List: Create a book list with the titles and call numbers of books you have available at your library on quinceañera, crafts, party planning, and Hispanic recipe books.

Information Packet: You can gather a list of ballrooms and dance halls in the area, along with their pricing and phone numbers to pass out at program. Other program lists you can prepare include: bakery shops, DJ’s and bands, decorators, caterers, limos, tuxedo rentals, etc.

Planning Timeline: Make copies of planning timeline provided in this program to distribute to participants. This timeline will serve as a guideline of what the participant should get done throughout the year prior to the party.

Books to Share

Celebrating a Quinceañera: A Latina's Fifteenth Birthday Celebration by Diane Hoyt-Goldsmith.

Fifteen Candles: 15 Tales of Taffeta, Hairspray, Drunk Uncles, and Other Quinceañera Stories by Adriana López.

Once Upon a Quinceañera: Coming of Age in the USA by Julia Álvarez.

Books to Show or Booktalk

Chasing the Jaguar by Michele Domínguez Greene.

Cuba 15 by Nancy Oso.

Estrella’s Quinceañera by Malín Alegría.

Quinceañera by Elizabeth King.

Quinceañera!: The Essential Guide to Planning the Perfect Sweet Fifteen Celebration by Michele Salcedo.

Bulletin Board

Quinceañera’s Memories

Cover the bulletin board with white butcher paper. Ask patrons that have previously had a quinceañera party to bring in a picture to share. Use these pictures and die-cut balloons to decorate the bulletin board. Cut the letters for the words “Quinceañera’s Memories” using a die-cut machine and add them to the bulletin board.


Cover a table with a bright colored tablecloth. Display empty boxes wrapped in fancy giftwrap, along with quinceañera items such as a cake tops, party favors, capias (corsages), shoes, flowers, and other party decorations. Display appropriate books on quinceañera and party planning.


Decorate the room with brightly colored balloons, matching the display table's color scheme. Place some flowers around the room and on bookshelves.

Audio Recordings

“Butterfly Kisses” on Best of Bob Carlisle by Bob Carlisle.

"De Niña a Mujer" on De Niña a Mujer by Julio Iglesias.

"Las Mañanitas" on Celebrando Quinceañeras by Various Artists.

"La Última Muñeca" on Nuestra Historia by Los Barón de Apodaca.

"María" on 17 by Ricky Martin.

"Quinceañera" on 25 Años by Timbiriche.

“Tiempo de Vals” on Grandes Éxitos by Chayanne.


Fruit Punch and Sliced Fruit Cups

Serve fruit punch in a fancy bowl. Also serve individual servings of sliced fruit.

Guest Speakers

Invite community speakers to show and tell about the supplies that will be needed for the party. These might include decorations, dresses, tiaras, dolls, and party favors. Alternately, borrow these items from a local business. If the actual items are not available, download color copies of these supplies from web sites such as Quinceañera Mall,, or Joyful Events,, and pass the sheets around for participants to look at.

Games and Activities

Cake Tasting Party

Host a cake tasting event so that the teens and their families can decide what cake they will want to order. Ask local bakeries to donate a variety of cakes (vanilla, tangerine, lemon, coconut, chocolate, etc.). Alternately, buy or bake sample flavors. Provide participants with a checklist of the flavors, and bakeries, if appropriate, so that they can check off their favorites.

Quinceañera Dances

photo of quinceanera - five young female dancers in blue, males in black and white tuxes, and the sixth female has a long white dress

(A photo of the author’s quinceañera party.)

An important event during the quinceañera party is the dance presentation, which includes the first waltz, traditionally danced with the father, godfather, or older male relative. Dances must be learned and practiced ahead of time. Invite a dance instructor to teach the group how to waltz and perform other dances. Alternately, have the group gather around an internet-accessible computer and visit pre-selected sites that show dances and provide dance instruction. YouTube has a number of examples, but be sure to pre-screen the ones you will visit. Many dance instruction web sites also offer videos and written instructions. Visit The Dance Store Online,, to view a short video on the waltz. After viewing, provide printed instructions on basic dance steps and allow the group to practice.

Hair and Makeup Lessons

Gather makeup and hairstyling books and magazines. Ask a beauty supply store or makeup distributor for samples of lipstick, eye shadows, blush, and other makeup products. Purchase a supply of hairspray and bobby pins. Borrow several curling irons, flat irons, and other styling instruments. Provide wet wipes and makeup remover cloths. Invite a local cosmetologist to demonstrate makeup techniques and a hair stylist to talk about styles and ways to arrange hair. Let the participants experiment. (Be careful about sharing cosmetics and hair accessories and provide alcohol wipes for styling equipment.)

Quinceañera Fashion Show

Invite older teens and young adults to show off the quinceañera dresses they wore at their own party and have a fashion show. Others who were part of a quinceañera’s Court of Honor (damas and chamberlains) can show off their dresses and tuxedos as well. Invite local businesses to showcase their collection of current fashions and accessories.


Quinceañera Planner

photo of a quinceanera planner - planner looks like a scrapbook cover, 'Mis Quince' and 'May 09' in Pink construction paper, yellow paper, pink ribbon, red mask, bookmark has a panda and bamboo, and the background has a green flower print

  • 3 ring binders
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Sheet protectors (optional)
  • Ribbon and lace
  • Glitter
  • Buttons or other decorative pieces
  • Fabric
  • Planning outline, information packet, and book list.
  • Scrapbook or construction paper, three-hole punched

Distribute one binder per person. (Since the binders will be covered, old binders or those with advertising can be used.) Use the craft materials to decorate and personalize the binders. Insert the planning outline, information packet, and book list provided in this program or created by the librarian into sheet protectors, if provided. Provide extra sheets of scrapbook or construction paper for adding photographs and pictures gathered during the planning and preparation.


Quince Girl

Web Sites

Quince Girl

This online site for Quince Girl magazine is a one-stop-shop for planning the party. The site includes hundreds of dresses to find a pleasing style.

Quinceañera Location

Great for quinceañera planning, this site includes a history of the celebration and a glossary of terms.

Univision’s Quinceañera Page

Univision provides video and photographs of celebrations.

Professional Resources

The Dance Store Online

Check out the “Learning Area” for each dance to view free video instructions and information about ballroom dancing from the Meringue to a waltz.

Planning Outline

There are so many steps to planning a quinceañera. A planning guide ensures that no stage in putting the party together is overlooked and ensures that planning is done well in advance.

1-2 Years Before Quinceañera

___ Begin looking for your party theme or colors

___ Determine a budget

___ Determine whether you’ll have padrinos (sponsors)

___ Discuss which quinceañera traditions you would like to incorporate into your party

___ Research cake styles and flavors

___ Set a potential date for your quinceañera

Select and book contract services:

___ Band / DJ / Mariachi

___ Caterer

___ Church

___ Photographer

___ Reception / Dance Hall

___ Rental service for tables & chairs

___ Transportation (limousine or vans)

___ Videographer

9 Months Before Quinceañera

___ Go ‘window shopping’ for your dress and accessories

___ Go ‘window shopping’ for your dama’s dresses

___ Investigate the prices & styles of tuxedo rentals / formal wear

___ Look for a choreographer, if you choose to have one

Prepare a list of following:

___ Chamberlaines

___ Damas

___ Dances you’d like to perform

___ Your Escort

___ Padrinos (monetary sponsors)

If applicable, decide which Padrinos (sponsors) will be asked to provide any of the following, otherwise it is time to begin buying the following items yourself.

___ Album & Pen

___ Bible

___ Bracelet

___ Cake

___ Cake Top

___ Capias

___ Copas de vino

___ Corsage

___ Dress

___ La Última Muñeca / The Last Doll

___ Necklace

___ Pillow

___ Ring

___ Rosary

___ Shoes

___ Tiara

___ Watch

8 Months Before Quinceañera

___ Invite the damas, chamberlains, escort and padrinos to participate

___ Order your dress and accessories

___ Research decorations

___ Research party favors

7 Months Before Quinceañera

___ Ask your damas to begin buying their dresses

___ Ask chamberlains, your escort, and padrinos to reserve their tuxedos or formal wear

___ Prepare a guest list

6 Months Before Quinceañera

___ Check on dress order status

___ Find a seamstress who will do alterations for your dress and your Court of Honor’s outfits

___ Order or prepare decorations you would like to use

___ Order or prepare party favors

___ Reserve hotel rooms for guests from out of town

___ Select invitations and envelopes

3 Months Before Quinceañera

___ Begin dance rehearsals

___ Make a final guest list and head count

___ Prepare invitations, making sure you have appropriate addresses and contact information

___ Start collecting money from monetary padrinos (sponsors)

Touch base with your contract services:

___ Band / DJ / Mariachi

___ Caterer

___ Church

___ Padrinos

___ Photographer

___ Reception / Dance Hall

___ Rental Services for tables & chairs

___ Transportation

___ Videographer

2 Months Before Quinceañera

___ Confirm head count with the caterer

___ Mail out invitations

___ Make appointments with hair and makeup stylist

___ Take your quinceañera portraits

1 Week Before Quinceañera

___ Give guests reminder calls

___ If any guests are canceling, make sure to cancel their hotel room reservations

___ Visit hair and makeup stylist for a consultation and trial run

___ Last chance for you or Court of Honor to make dress or outfit alterations

___ Make sure decorations and favors for church and reception areas are prepared

___ Prepare a list of items you should take to church and reception

1 Day Before Quinceañera

___ Have a church rehearsal

___ Have a final dance rehearsal

Day of Quinceañera

___ Have breakfast. Today will be a long day. Relax and be prepared for the day you’ve been looking forward to all year!

___ Have someone call your transportation to make sure driver is on time.

___ Go get your hair and makeup done

___ Look through the list of items you should take to church and reception, and have someone help you make sure they are not forgotten!

Week After Your Quinceañera

___ Check up with photographer and videographer for delivery of products

___ Give a reminder call to your chamberlains to return their tuxedo rentals if they haven’t already done so

___ Prepare and mail-out thank you notes to guests and padrinos

Texas Reading Club 2010 Programming Manual / Catch the Reading Express!

Published by the Library Development Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Page last modified: June 14, 2011