How to Make a Day of the Dead Altar?

Como Hacer el Altar de Muertos

Before I start I want to ask you something, do you already have a cup of hot cocoa in your hands? If not, you should! Making a Day of the Dead Altar is about memories and traditions and the most important part is that you enjoy the process. Sit down with your kids, or your dog if you prefer, at the table and make some punched paper together, drink hot cocoa, bring old photo albums and relive old happy family memories, have fun! Really, for all those people that think that Day of the Dead is a sad celebration, I can say for personal experience that it is not, its actually a joyful and colorful tradition created to celebrate the amazing lives of our loved ones that have passed away.

Note: What I’m going to share with you is not a traditional seven level altar. It’s a homemade version, an easy way to make an altar in the corner of your home. I hope you enjoy my colorful version 🙂

Ok, here we go.

Materiales para Hacer el Altar de Muertos


  1. Picture of your beloved one. You can decorate it with a cute printable. Download it here.

  2. Punched paper. The paper represents the wind. Some ideas here and here.

  3. Candles. They represent fire.

  4. Water. To quench the thirst of the dead when they arrive and as a representation of the element of water.

  5. Seeds, dirt or something else that represents earth.

  6. Flowers. You can make your own using tissue paper leftovers.

  7. Banquet. Any food  and beverages your beloved one used to love.

  8. Candy skulls

You can start making some punched paper. Check out the next picture with steps of an easy way to make punched paper. As far as I have seen, it does not matter how many cuts do you make, they can be triangles, circles or squares. Just fold the tissue paper and make cuts, it’s gonna look good, I promise.

Como Hacer papel picado para el altar

Punched Paper Steps:

Fold the tissue paper following the lines on step #1 #2 and #3. Then cut two semi circles like image #5 and some triangles like image #6. Listo!

More punched paper tutorials here and here.

Como Hacer el Altar de Muertos

How to make the altar?

First I covered the table with tissue paper, added punched paper on top, some the candles, the glass of water, the picture of my grandpa (to whom I dedicated this altar, he was really clever and creative, I’m sure he would like it), some seeds in a bowl, a cute candy skull and some flowers around.

If you couldn’t find the cempasúchil flowers, you can make some using tissue paper leftovers. Check out the steps here.

Como Hacer el Altar de Muertos

I have seen many designs and ways to make altars for the Day of the Dead. I believe that every person should add their own special touches to them. They don’t need to be perfect or have all the elements. My rule when making my own is to remember to add the four elements, water, wind, earth and fire in some way, the picture of your beloved one, food, flowers and candles. The other details are optional but if you can find them, they will be a beautiful detail. Have fun!

This is one of the ofrenda for Día de los Muertos I made last year using the same elements. Check it out HERE.

More Day of the Dead DIYs and inspiration on my Pinterest board. You are going to love the ideas!

2 Responses

  1. Karen says:

    I love all the beautiful color in your altar! I love learning about other cultures celebrations 🙂

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