There are some essentials for a traditional Quinceañera and then there are accessories that make the occasion seem like a fantasy for the evening. I am going to provide you with a list of items that are traditionally included. In the list of gifts and accessories for a Quinceañera will also be the meanings behind each of these items.
Traditional gifts for the Quinceañera
Tiara: The Tiara symbolizes a princess before God. This usually replaces a headpiece worn by Quinceañera until she is blessed during the festivities.
Scepter: A Scepter is placed in the hand of the Quinceañera to symbolize her taking on adult roles as well as the authority that goes with her new position in the family and society.
Prayer Book or Bible: A prayer book or Bible is given to the Quinceañera as a resource to keep the word of God in her life.
A Ring or Bracelet is given to symbolize the never-ending circle of life, the never-ending cycle of womanhood as well as symbolic of her future contributions.
Earrings: Earrings are given to remind her to keep her ears in tune to the voice of God, or to listen to the word of God as well as the world around her.
Medallion: A medallion may be given to the Quinceañera as a symbol of her faith or as a reminder of her Quinceañeras celebration, usually numbered 15.
A Rosario: A Rosario or Rosary Beads are often given in combination with the bible as a useful tool in prayer life of any young Catholic Woman.
Bouquet: Used if a mass service is held to place at the Altar of the Virgin Maria as a gift of thanksgiving.
Headpiece: A headpiece is worn as an adornment until replaced by the Tiara.
Quinceañera Doll: A Quinceañera Doll is used to hold ribbons with the Quinceañeras name and the date of her birth imprinted upon them, to be passed out as bolos to guests who attended the reception. The doll traditionally is given away to a young female member of the family as symbolic of passing on childish ways to the younger generations as she takes her place amongst the other women in her family. More commonly now it is saved as a souvenir of the event.
Pillows: There are several pillows used during a Quinceañera ceremony. One is for kneeling during the service, one for carry her new shoes and usually one for the Tiara she receives.
Cake Decorations: Cakes vary from region to region and various cake toppers are available. The most common are a statuette of a Quinceañera fully decorate with an array of flowers and frill. In Miami, you will more commonly find a cake in three columns, several layers per column, the tallest column in the center. Joining these columns are two bridges, normally fashioned after stairs leading up to the top of the center column. Upon one of these bridges are set 14 female statuettes, one for each of the Damas, and on the other are set 15 male statuettes, one for each of the Chambelans. These are commonly given to each of the court participants as a souvenir of the event.
These are the traditional, though I am sure with the wide variety of Hispanic Cultures, not completely exclusive, items to be considered for gifting and accessorizing a Quinceañera Celebration. From this basis, remember it is her day and creativity should be allowed. This is a great opportunity for her emerging personality to shine forth as well as that of the family members involved in planning the event with her. As you can see, when figuring in the cost of food, gifts, accessories, dresses, decorations, the cake, bolos, rental of the church and reception hall as well as the many unmentioned items that goes into the planning of a Quinceañera, the strength of the Hispanic family and close friends comes into play. The celebration of the Quinceañera, though thrown in honor of the girl turned young woman, is one of an entire family and network of friends honoring her passage into adulthood. The women involved in the planning usually spend many hours making homemade decorations and bolos for the special day. Often one of the older women will make the dress for the princess to wear. Many hours of careful planning, as far out as two years in advance, are given by both the male and female members of the family towards the special day as well as those of the Quinceañera herself. Hours of practicing the choreographed dance for the court of honor commences six months in advance of the date. Members of the network, family and friends, many times sponsors the event by assisting with paying for the gifts and offering financial contribution towards the many expenses involved. This too is very symbolic of the ties that bind a family and their close friends in the intricate network of the Hispanic Culture.