Dia de los Muertos is a holiday meant to honor and remember our ancestors. Decorating for the occasion is exciting and represents one of the few times throughout the year when we can celebrate our deceased loved ones.
We’ve gathered together some of our favorite Dia de los Muertos crafts and decorations to help you celebrate this vibrant and memorable holiday.
What is Dia de los Muertos?
Dia de los Muertos (aka Day of the Dead) is a Mexican holiday that celebrates deceased ancestors and loved ones. It takes place on November 1 each year, marked by parades, gathered families, feasts, and fun. The history of this holiday dates back to the time of the Aztecs. On Dia de los Muertos, the veil between the real world and the spirit world dissolves so that past family members can reunite with those who are living.
How is it celebrated?
Traditionally, the holiday is celebrated with parades, music, dancing, food, and offerings to loved ones. A familiar gesture during this time is to set out plates of food on gravesites — or ofrendas — to honor those who have passed on. Ofrendas are a collection of objects that are set on display to honor the dead. The items on these altars are often associated with our ancestors and our connections to them.
The Day of the Dead skeleton is a common decoration piece that showcases the presence of death and our connection with the world of the spirits. You see this decoration in sugar skulls, face paints, food, and other decorative pieces during this holiday.
How do I make an ofrenda?
Ofrendas are personalized for each family, often including flowers and candles to add warmth and vibrancy to make the spirits of our loved ones feel at home.
If you want to make your own ofrenda for your family, you can follow these steps:
- First, find a small table that you can use to build upon your ofrenda. Cover the table in a warmly colored cloth. The most common colors are yellow, orange, or red to symbolize life and mortality.
- On top of your table, you can add picture frames of your deceased loved ones and surround the frames with colored candles, flowers (paper and real), plates of food, and small trinkets that hold a deep meaning between you and your relatives.
Ofrendas are a fantastic way to remember and honor the past. Finding and decorating your family’s ofrenda is also a great way to bond with one another during this special time.
Outdoor decoration ideas
If you’re looking to celebrate Dia de los Muertos this year, there are several outdoor decorations to help you become more connected to your past loved ones.
Day of the Dead skulls
A popular custom of this holiday is decorating with a Day of the Dead skeleton. Sugar skulls are a popular decoration during Dia de los Muertos and symbolize the connection between the living and the dead. A great DIY decoration you can make for this holiday is by painting sugar skulls on small pumpkins to set up outside on your porch.
There are many different kinds of skulls for you to paint. A quick search can offer you a few ideas, or you can make your own design.
To make a sugar skull, you’ll need meringue powder, sugar, and water. Using special molds to form the skull makes the process much easier. However, the best part is decorating the skull with bright colors once it’s hardened enough to hold!
Another fun idea for this holiday is to plant marigolds around your home or set them in pots by your door. Marigolds are a popular decoration for Dia de los Muertos and symbolize the fragility of life. The marigold most commonly used is the targetes erecta.
You can simply place the marigolds around your door or home. Or, you can spread a trail of petals leading to your house. It is said that the spirits are attracted to these flowers and are likely to follow your trail to reconnect with their living families.
If you favor faux flowers, creating paper marigolds from colorful tissue paper is a favorite activity during this time of year. You can fold your flowers and connect them into a wreath to place on your door as well if you feel inclined.
Another activity with tissue paper is to fold it into lanterns to hang around your home. There are also store-bought versions that include a place for small lights so that your lanterns can be seen at night, as well. Or, you can enjoy a DIY paper lantern of your own making!
Indoor decoration ideas
If you don’t have much space for outdoor decorations, you can always decorate inside your home. You can make your own ofrenda to honor your ancestors. Find a small table and lay a beautifully colored cloth over it. Some of the most common colors are yellow, orange, and red. You can decorate the ofrenda with pictures of your deceased loved ones, candles, food, flowers, and objects that remind you of your past family members.
Another fun way to decorate for this beautiful holiday is by displaying marigolds around the home. As mentioned above, marigolds represent the fragility of life and are a welcomed flower used for decorating during this holiday.
Picado banners are another great idea when it comes to decorating for this holiday. These banners are colorful and made out of paper. They often have beautiful designs cut into them, highlighting the stories of their loved one’s past life. They also include fun designs just for decorative appeal, as well.
When it comes to Dia de los Muertos, one of the most exciting aspects is the food. Baking fresh bread, pies, and cookies is a wonderful treat during this holiday. You can also make sugar cookies, using icing to make sugar skulls or Day of the Dead skeleton designs to lay out on a platter for the whole family to enjoy.
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