With roots in ancient traditions, Day of the Dead celebrations around the world are a festive way to honor loved ones who have passed. Family and friends gather to pray for and remember special people – to tell stories, share favorite foods, and reflect on the importance of their ancestors. Local community events often feature music and dance to celebrate life – the celebrations are as varied as their communities, and Dios de los Muertos events bring people together with a common goal – to celebrate special memories.
Handmade items are an important part of Day of the Dead festivities – sugar skulls are the most recognizable, but you are also likely to see marigolds, skeletons and colorful tissue paper decorations. Is there a Day of the Dead event in your community? Or do you celebrate privately? Here are some crafty projects to get your started!
Make Stone Sugar Skulls by painting on rocks. Artist Alisa Burke shares photos of her process. She begins by painting the larger features, then adds whimsical details, including marigolds! This is a remembrance you could carry in your pocket or keep on your desk.
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It’s easy to find pumpkins for Day of the Dead – it’s usually observed November 1, the day after Halloween. Casa Artelexia paints Sugar Skull Pumpkins and displays them beginning in October. Colorful craft paints on a white painted pumpkin make a decoration that works indoors or out.
Here’s an easy one for the kids – start with a die-cut skull from the craft store. This Melted Bead Sun Catcher looks like stained glass, but The Artful Parent shows you how to arrange plastic pony beads on a foil-lined pan. The fumes from melting plastic in your oven can be yucky, so these sun catchers are heated on an outdoor grill for 5 minutes. Ingenious!
Check out Dream a Little Bigger’s Sugar Skull Sneakers! They’re fun with fabric markers. You can draw your own skull design on plain white canvas shoes or use a free printable design.
Start with small flower pots, add paint, and you get fun Day of the Dead Planters! White craft paint is Creative Kismet’s base coat. The details are added with more craft paint and markers (for the swirlies). Add some little plants to complete the project.
Candles are a traditional element in Day of the Dead celebrations. Growing Up Bilingual uses white spray paint, markers and flowers to create Pumpkin Decor Candles that remind them of friends and family in Guatemala.
Made by Toya provides a template to make this shaped Day of the Dead Mask. It starts flat, then is cut and shaped with paper mache to make it sturdy. Paint and pens provide the colorful details.
For an easy mask, try this Free Day of the Dead Printable Mask from My Very Educated Mother. Print on sturdy card stock, then go to town with crayons, markers, paint, sequins and more!
Pipe cleaners, tissue paper, styrofoam, paper, glue – it doesn’t get much craftier than this! These Sugar Skull Dolls from Zing Zing Tree are just too cute – each has its own personality.
Check out all of our scary and fun DIY Halloween projects on Create Whimsy!