How to Make an Ofrenda for the Day of the Dead
Learn what you need and how to make a colorful ofrenda or altar for the Day of the Dead. (Día de los Muertos).
I’ve partnered with Family Dollar to share with you some great ideas to create a colorful and special ofrenda or altar de muertos in your home. Check it out.
Day of the dead was probably my favorite tradition when I was a kid. I have vivid memories of me with my mother, little brothers and sister putting together the ofrenda. Our favorite part was helping mom cut pieces of tissue paper to make the papel picado. We also loved taking out old albums to look at pictures of our family members and friends who have passed away. My mom used to make us hot cocoa and tell us stories about my grandpa while we helped her with the ofrenda and that was pretty awesome.
This year I got to make my ofrenda with a bit of help from my baby. Ok, he is only 7 months old, so I couldn’t expect much help from him, but he took a nap while I was making the altar and guys, that was the most helpful thing of all!
My ofrenda is ready in my home and I couldn’t be happier with it. I just love the joy that comes from paper picado, the colorful frames and the special meaning that this tradition brings to my life.
I dedicated my altar to Frida Kahlo, Selena Quintanilla and Pedro Infante, some characters that represent my culture with pride and that I admire.
To make your ofrenda or altar de muertos, start by looking for a place in your home that would really stand out. Any table in your kitchen or dining room area will work. You can add a tablecloth, or make something creative like an original table runner made out of colorful sheets of paper. I hole punched the sheets of paper and put them together with tape on the back, just to give the ofrenda more color. This is something kids would love to help you make.
These are some of the important elements in the ofrenda:
I got the paper to make the table runner, tissue paper for the papel picado, marigolds, plastic vases, candles and those cool frames at Family Dollar.
1. Punched paper (papel picado). Papel picado is made traditionally with tissue paper. They sell beautiful and intricate designs in some places, but you can make your own by cutting tissue paper into small rectangles and cutting out squares, triangles and circles from them. In the day of the dead the paper represents the wind.
2. Pictures of your beloved ones. Take out old albums and look for pictures of your beloved ones that passed away. This is a great opportunity to share stories about their lives with the family.
3. Candles. Get a few candles of different sizes and colors to make the ofrenda more fun. The candles represent fire.
4. Water. Add a glass of water to the altar. Water is added to quench the thirst of the dead when they arrive.
5. Banquet. Any food and beverages your loved ones used to love.
6. Flowers. The traditional flowers for the celebration are marigolds. I was so happy to get a few flowers that look like marigolds from Family Dollar. Artificial flowers are great because they can be stored for your ofrenda next year and the colors are just ideal for the celebration.
7. Sugar skulls. The sugar skulls significance is a bit gloomy, I have to admit it, they are a reminder that the only certainty for a human being is death. The interesting thing about this belief is that death to the ancient Mesoamericans was a stage of life that extended to another level, something not scary at all. This year I couldn’t find the traditional sugar skulls in my local tiendita, but I will probably find them a week or two before November 1st. I painted a ceramic skull and decorated it with markers. I just wanted to add this special element to the ofrenda.
I hope you have a special day bringing back memories while making the ofrenda for the day of the dead this year.
Check out Family Dollar Facebook page for great deals and ideas.
As a surprise for all of you, I’m giving away a $25 gift card to the Family Dollar, so you can get all the elements to make your ofrenda! To enter the giveaway leave a message and tell me, what’s your favorite part of the day of the dead celebration?