Growing up Puerto Rican I didn’t celebrate Día De Los Muertos, but after
learning about the importance of the holiday, I created this ofrenda with photos of my loves ones past- My great great grandmother Eusebia and my Abuelo, Francisco and their favorite food and drinks.
An ofrenda is a bright and celebratory homemade altar that is generally put up during el Dia de los Muertos to honor loved ones past. They typically include candles, photos of loved ones with their personal mementos, their favorite foods and fresh flowers.
I made this ofrenda by covering shoe boxes in Mexican fabrics and stacking
them like bricks on top of one another to create a stepped altar. Use all of the
steps of altar to feature your family images, drinks and their favorite foods.
1. Marshmallow Calaveras
La Catrina, one of the symbols of Day of the Dead, is easy to make by decorating a small Styrofoam ball with a calavera face and folding a paper
plate covered with scrapbook paper to make a dress. Her flower is made of felt, and her hat is crafted from tissue paper. You can have fun with pattern, colors and of course, decorating your calavera faces. Use these to decorate your ofrenda or place them around the house for authentic Day of the Dead décor.
3. Milk Carton Luminary
Create kid safe luminaries for your ofrenda. Rinse out an empty milk carton and using an xacto knife cut a luminary shape out of the carton. Paint the carton with a flat black acrylic paint. You can paint the luminary inside and out. Once your luminary is dry, feel free to decorate i t with chalk and insert a battery powered pillar candle. You can keep your flameless candle lit all night long to illuminate your ofrenda.
4. Papel Picado Banner
Papel picado (literally pecked paper) is a decorative craft made out of paper cut into elaborate designs. It is considered a Mexican folk art. Typically papel picado is used in banners during Día De Los Muertos, they line the streets of Mexico during the holiday. Make your own mini papel picado banner using colorful papers, pastry string and a decorative hole puncher. Fold the paper so that it hangs on the banner and secure with a bit of tape.
5. Lemon Peel Flower
Marigolds are an important part of any Day of the Dead celebration,they guide the spirits to their altars using their vibrant colors and scent. Decorate your dearly departed’s favorite cocktail with this simple lemon peel flower.
Using a sharp peeler, peel the peel off of one lemon (carefully so that
the lemon peel doesn’t break but instead you get a long length of peel). Then roll the peel up carefully and skewer it on a toothpick.
6. Edible Bones
Bones are an important symbol of this special day. To create these fun—and tasty—huesos, put two mini marshmallows on the ends of pretzel sticks, and dip the whole thing in melted white chocolate
7. Decorated Picture Frames
Turn any store bought picture frame into a personalized and meaningful part of your ofrenda. I decorated the frame with the photo of my great, great grandmother, Eusebia with felt and paper flowe rs that I created and thenwith chalk on the outside of the frame.
8. Paper Marigolds
Instead of using fresh flowers in your ofrenda, create your own oversized paper flowers, they are super easy! Put a few sheets of tissue paper on top of one another. Fold them like a fan or an accordion. Tie two pipe cleaners
around the center of the accordion, and cut the ends of the fan to have the
rounded shape of marigold petals. Add colorful beads to the pipe cleaners to
make flower stamens (the pollen-producing reproductive organ of a flower) and carefully pull the layers of your flower apart. Fluff it up to make it as big as you would like.
9. Potted Succulents
Succulents are very prevalent in the more arid regions of Mexico. Decorate your ofrenda with potted succulents. Here is how:
And HERE is my page in the October of Latina Magazine
on the topic!