Modern Etiquette Series: Creating a Fun and Traditional Quinceanera

Modern quinceanera celebrations conflate centuries old tradition with a fun modern flare. They’re typically extravagant affairs, but all that they symbolize makes it virtually impossible to put a price tag on.
When the celebration is in full swing, all eyes will be squarely on the birthday girl. To help you plan accordingly and act with tact, we’ve put together this brief modern etiquette guide. But first, let’s take a quick look at how we arrived at the current day quinceanera party.

Brief History of the Quinceanera

As best we can tell, the tradition started with the Aztec Indians who celebrated 15 as a young woman’s coming of age. The party also symbolized eligibility to marry. When the Spanish colonized modern-day Mexico in the 1500s, their traditions likely fused with the indigenous peoples, creating the celebration as we know it today. Where these parties were once reserved for the wealthy, upper class society members, today families from all walks of life celebrate the occasion. In fact, for the last ten years local businesses and nonprofits in Mexico City have banded together to put on a citywide quinceanera party for teenage girls whose families are less endowed or lack the means entirely.

Holding Court

Arguably the most important part of a traditional quinceanera are the birthday girl’s court. Comprised of fourteen damas (girls) and fourteen chambelans (boys), the uniformed squad accompanies her during the ceremony and regales guests with their choreographed routines. Together, the group represents the past fourteen years of childhood she will leave behind as she enters adulthood. Modernization Tip: Have your group dance to some traditional songs and some current hits during the night. If you really want to shake things up, plan a surprise costume change part way through the party!


Traditionally, the quinceanera’s family and her neighbors would prepare all the customary foods for the celebration. This would include a multi-course traditional meal and a multi-tiered cake to share. Today, most folks hire a catering company or full-service event venue to prepare, serve and clean up the mass quantities of food served at these lavish events. Modernization Tip: Instead of cake, have everyone bring their favorite dessert and set up a long table where folks can display their creations.

Stepping up Into Adulthood

Another popular custom is to present the young woman with her first pair of heels. Generally, it’s conducted by the parents, but some other special family members might also choose to lead this portion of the evening. In any event, a close adult helps her have a true Cinderella moment, removing her shoes and replacing them with a pair of heels. This signifies her growth and responsibility as she comes of age. It’s essentially her “stepping up in society” as a fully fledged adult woman. quinceanera Modernization Tip: Since most girls today are wearing heels long before their fifteenth birthday, try customizing an inexpensive pair of shoes by adding some bling and glitter before the party. It’ll let you flash a bit of your personal style and leave guests thoroughly entertained.

Quinceanera Crowning

What is the quinceanera princess without her crown? The mother or godmother traditionally bestow the final accessories to her look, crown and scepter, after her confirmation. They convey responsibility and a maturing attitude. She proudly wears the tiara for the remainder of the evening and parents are forced to acknowledge she’ll soon be flying the coop. Modernization Tip: Feel like letting your hair down without being encumbered by a tiara? Use it as part of your décor scheme at the quinceanera reception venue. You get to keep the tradition alive while also letting it pretty up your party space!


When it’s all said and done, this is still a birthday party. Gifts should never be required or expected, but don’t be surprised if there are more than a few. Some traditional family presents include:
  • The last doll. A porcelain figure made to look like the birthday girl. Sometimes they have the girl’s name and date of her quinceanera pinned to the dress. It is a way to acknowledge her traversing childhood and into adulthood.
  • Religious memorabilia. From grandparents or godparents, the girl might receive anything from a bible or cross to a full-blown rosary.
  • Fifteen Roses. A beautiful bouquet of fifteen roses is often given to represent sweetness and strength, just like the petals and stems.
  • Birthstone Bracelet. A commemorative piece of jewelry, generally a bracelet, with the stone from the month in which she was born is often presented to the young girl in recognition of her maturing femininity.
Modernization Tip: Instead of gifts, have party guests donate to the charity of your choice! It’s a wonderful way to assume some adult responsibility and give back at the same time! Ultimately, quinceaneras aren’t just fun parties. They’re traditional celebrations that usher girls into womanhood. After the ceremony, you’ll have more responsibility to your family and your future. Still, don’t be afraid to modernize it a bit to make it your own! Let us help you plan an effortless and memorable quinceanera celebration! To learn more about Dallas Palms, our pricing options and other event details, please schedule an appointment with us by emailing [email protected] or calling 972-416-1416.