October 31, 2023 by Anna-Bet Stemmet
Feliz Día de los Muertos! If you’re wondering how to celebrate Day of the Dead this year, the good news is that The Mixer is ready with a full list of fun and easily achievable Día de Los Muertos party ideas and tips. Let’s dive right in, amigos! 💀🌼🥮
What is Día de Los Muertos and who celebrates it?
Día de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, is a vibrant and heartfelt Mexican holiday celebrated on November 1st and 2nd. It’s a time to honor and remember loved ones who have passed away, welcoming their spirits back into our world. While rooted in Mexican culture, people around the globe now embrace this beautiful tradition.
To celebrate Día de los Muertos is to celebrate life, remembrance, and the enduring bonds we share with our dearly departed. It’s not just about sugar skulls and marigolds; it’s a deeply meaningful cultural observance. If you’re not of Mexican heritage but want to join in the festivities, remember to approach it with respect and understanding, appreciating the rich tapestry of traditions that make up this incredible holiday.
So, let’s explore creative and inclusive ways to celebrate Día de los Muertos, setting the scene for a fun, meaningful, and memorable experience for everyone.
Setting up for a Día de Los Muertos party
Here’s our go-to party outline for celebrating Día de Los Muertos the easy way, even if it’s your first time hosting a Day of the Dead party at home:
Day of the Dead party invitations
When hosting a Día de los Muertos celebration, your invitations should set the tone for the fiesta. We love using vibrant, themed invites featuring classic symbols like sugar skull designs, marigold blossoms, and bright colors that capture the spirit of the holiday. Don’t forget to include essential details like the date, time, and location.
Personalize your invitations to reflect the uniqueness of your celebration, ensuring that your guests arrive with excitement and anticipation for a memorable Day of the Dead gathering. Remember to send them with as much lead time as possible, allowing your guests to prepare for this special occasion.
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Día de Los Muertos décor
Decorating for Día de Los Muertos is a lot of fun, mostly because the go-to decorations of the Day of the Dead are super colorful, and meant to evoke a sense of celebration. Incorporate these classic elements to infuse your space with the authentic spirit of the holiday:
Ofrenda (altar). The ofrenda, or altar, is the heart of Day of the Dead decorations. It’s a meticulously arranged space with photographs of deceased loved ones, their favorite foods, drinks, and personal items. Candles and incense are lit to help guide the spirits of the departed back to the world of the living. Creating an ofrenda is a deeply personal and symbolic act, allowing you to pay homage to those who have passed and keep their memory alive.
Calacas and calaveras. These whimsical, skeleton-shaped figures, known as calacas, decorative sugar skulls, or calaveras, are prevalent in Day of the Dead décor. They serve as joyful reminders that death is an integral part of life’s cycle. These cheerful representations of skeletons convey the belief that, even in death, there is a cause for celebration and remembrance.
Marigold flowers (cempasúchil). Marigold flowers, called cempasúchil in Spanish, are an essential element in Dia de Los Muertos décor. Their vibrant orange and yellow hues are believed to guide spirits to the ofrenda with their vivid colors and aromatic scent. By scattering marigold petals or creating intricate flower arrangements, you pay tribute to the spirits and create an inviting path for them to return.
Papel picado. Papel picado, or “pierced paper”, are tissue paper banners with intricate, delicate designs. Common motifs include skulls, skeletons, and other Day of the Dead imagery. These banners add a whimsical and artistic touch to your décor, and they represent the fragile and ephemeral nature of life, just like the paper itself.
Candles. Lighting candles on the ofrenda and throughout your space is a symbol of hope and remembrance. The flickering flames guide the spirits and help them find their way. The warm, gentle glow also creates an intimate and reflective atmosphere for your celebration
Incense. Copal incense, with its resinous and earthy aroma, is often burned during Dia de Los Muertos. The fragrant smoke is believed to purify the air and create a sacred atmosphere, inviting the spirits to partake in the festivities.
Folk art and crafted items. Unique, handcrafted items like pottery, masks, and figurines are frequently displayed to enhance the visual richness of holiday décor. They represent the artistry and diversity of Mexican culture, adding authenticity to the celebration and showcasing the creativity of the living and the deceased alike.
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Día de Los Muertos dress code and costumes
Día de Los Muertos is a celebration of life and a vibrant display of Mexican culture. To fully immerse yourself in the spirit of this holiday, consider dressing up in a way that pays homage to the traditions but also lets you join the festivities in style.
Calavera makeup. Embrace the tradition with intricate calavera (sugar skull) makeup. Use white and black makeup as a base, and add colorful designs, flowers, and details to your face. This artful makeup is a popular way to honor the holiday spirit.
La Catrina. Dress as La Catrina, an iconic skeletal figure often depicted wearing a beautiful dress and a fancy hat. This elegant yet macabre costume pays homage to the satirical etching by Mexican artist José Guadalupe Posada.
Traditional Mexican attire. Wear traditional Mexican clothing, such as embroidered dresses for women (known as “huipil”) or charro suits for men. These outfits celebrate Mexican culture and add authenticity to your Dia de Los Muertos look.
Marigold accessories. Incorporate marigold flowers into your attire. Create floral headpieces, garlands, or even a marigold bouquet. These vibrant blooms are a symbol of the holiday and add a colorful touch to your outfit.
Skeleton and skull accessories. Accessorize with skeletal and skull-themed items like jewelry, gloves, or masks. These items reflect the festive and symbolic elements of Día de Los Muertos.
Day of the Dead-themed clothing. Look for clothing with Día de Los Muertos patterns and designs, featuring sugar skulls, marigolds, and other traditional motifs. Many clothing brands offer themed attire during the holiday season.
Frida Kahlo. Pay homage to the iconic Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, known for her distinctive look. Wear a floral headband, a colorful blouse, and a long skirt. Add a unibrow and bold makeup to complete the look.
Celebrate loved ones. Personalize your costume by including items that represent or pay tribute to specific loved ones you’re honoring. For example, wear a piece of jewelry or clothing that belonged to them, or incorporate their favorite colors and symbols into your attire.
Remember that Día de Los Muertos is a festive but respectful occasion. While costumes and makeup are a fun way to participate, it’s essential to approach the holiday with cultural sensitivity and an understanding of its significance as a celebration of life and remembrance.
Day of the Dead party activities
While the holiday is often celebrated in community settings, you can also capture the essence of this vibrant holiday in the comfort of your home. Here are a few fun and inspiring Dia de Los Muertos activity ideas:
Ofrenda creation. Set up a small ofrenda in your home, even on a tabletop, and adorn it with photos, candles, marigold flowers, and your loved one’s favorite items.
Calavera face-painting. Have a face-painting session to apply calavera (sugar skull) makeup or explore online tutorials for inspiration.
Crafting papel picado. Make papel picado banners using tissue paper, scissors, and string. Hang them indoors to create a festive atmosphere.
Día de Los Muertos movie night. Watch movies related to Día de Los Muertos, such as Coco or documentaries about the holiday, for an educational and entertaining experience.
Art and craft projects. Create Día de Los Muertos art or crafts at home, like painting calacas, making clay figurines, or decorating calaveras (skulls).
Traditional Mexican cuisine. Cook and enjoy traditional Mexican dishes together, exploring new recipes or recreating family favorites. Savor the flavors of the holiday.
Music and dance party. Create a Día de Los Muertos playlist featuring Mexican music and dance around your living room. Share the joy of the celebration through dance and song.
Marigold art and arrangements. Get creative with marigold flowers, making artwork or garlands to display in your home. Their vibrant color is a symbol of remembrance.
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Day of the Dead food ideas
One of the most delightful aspects of Día de Los Muertos is the incredible array of traditional Mexican dishes that grace celebration tables. As you host a gathering at home to honor loved ones who have passed, embrace the opportunity to indulge in the flavors of this cherished holiday. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Pan de Muerto. This sweet, round bread is a Día de Los Muertos staple. Its skull or bone-shaped decorations make it a delicious centerpiece for your celebration.
Tamales. Tamales, filled with various ingredients, are a favorite Mexican dish. They can be prepared in advance and served hot or cold for your party.
Mole. Mole is a rich, savory sauce often served with chicken or turkey. It’s a complex and flavorful dish that’s perfect for a special Día de Los Muertos feast.
Sopes. These thick, fried tortillas are topped with beans, cheese, and a variety of toppings like shredded lettuce, salsa, and sour cream. They make for a great finger food option.
Chiles en Nogada. These stuffed poblano peppers are a festive dish, and their red, white, and green colors represent the Mexican flag. They’re typically filled with picadillo and topped with a creamy walnut sauce.
Guacamole and salsa. Serve guacamole and salsa with tortilla chips for a simple and popular appetizer.
Calavera cookies. These sugar cookies shaped like skulls can be intricately decorated with colorful icing, making them a fun and creative treat.
Ceviche. A refreshing seafood option, ceviche is made by marinating raw fish or shrimp in citrus juices with tomatoes, onions, and cilantro.
Pozole. This hearty soup is made with hominy (dried corn kernels) and can be prepared with various meats, including pork or chicken. Top it with shredded cabbage, radishes, and lime for extra flavor.
Churros. These deep-fried dough pastries, often dusted with cinnamon sugar, are a sweet and satisfying dessert option.
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Día de Los Muertos drinks
As you celebrate Día de Los Muertos at home, don’t forget to raise your glass to honor loved ones who have passed and embrace the richness of Mexican culture. Here are a few of our favorite drinks to clink on this holiday:
Paloma. Made with grapefruit juice and tequila, the Paloma is a refreshing and citrusy choice. Garnish with a lime wedge and salt.
Michelada. This beer-based cocktail is a spicy treat. Mix beer with lime juice, hot sauce, and spices. The Michelada is often served in a salt-rimmed glass.
Atole. This warm and comforting masa-based drink is often flavored with cinnamon and chocolate. It’s a perfect choice for those who prefer something non-alcoholic.
Champurrado. A thicker version of atole, champurrado combines masa, chocolate, and spices to create a delightful, rich beverage.
Mexican Hot Chocolate. Served with a hint of spice, Mexican Hot Chocolate is a classic choice and very comforting on colder days.
Horchata. A sweet and milky rice-based drink, horchata is typically infused with cinnamon and vanilla, making it a refreshing mocktail option.
Fruit Agua Frescas. Offer a variety of fruit-based aguas frescas (fruit juices), like watermelon, pineapple, or tamarind, for a refreshing and colorful addition to your celebration.
Now, go forth and have fun! We hope you have a wonderful Día de Los Muertos celebration with your family and friends. Remember to sign up for our newsletter to receive more easy guides like these.