How to build your own ofrenda for the Day of the Dead.

The day of the Dead is getting closer and probably you learned something about it last year thank you to Disney’s Pixar movie COCO. And if you haven’t seen the movie or you just want to learn more about it, you can read my post “Mexican folklore: The Day of the Dead

Now, you want to build your own ofrenda but you have the feeling that you don’t really know where to begin or what to buy?

Don worry!!.

Below is an easy list that can help you to find the perfect items for you.

  1. First of all, you need photos of your loved ones. Those to whom you want to honor and remember with your ofrenda.
  2. Frames for the photos.  I like using black frames so the photo of my loved ones look better but you can choose anything that you want.
  3. Water. It helps to quench the thirst of the traveler souls.
  4. Candles. The fire provides them with light and hope for their journey.
  5. Copal Incense. It’s used to clean the environment and to get rid of evil spirits.
  6. Cempasuchil. Also known as Mexican Marigold, is the flower used to guide the souls.  (if you can’t buy natural flowers, you can replace them with artificial marigold).
  7. Wallflower and Baby’s breath. They are more used to honor the souls of children.
  8. Cross. It goes at the top of the ofrenda and usually is made out of Marigolds.
  9. Arch. It’s also made out of Marigolds and fruits and represents the entrance to the underworld.
  10. Day of the dead bread. It represents fraternity and it’s delicious!!.
  11. Food. Usually, you put plates of food that you loved ones used to like.
  12. Sugar Skulls. They represent and honor the dead. If you can’t find the ones made of sugar, you can replace them with plastic ones.
  13. Salt. It’s used to purify the souls on their travel.
  14. Papel Picado.  In Mexico, Papel picado is made out of tissue paper but here in the US is really hard to find (at least where I live). Hence, you can make your own papel (as I did) or you can buy it online.

How to set your ofrenda?


The traditional ofrenda usually has a lot of elements and levels as described in the image above, but if you don’t have that much room to set up your ofrenda, you can try to put the most important elements of the list that is at the beginning of this post and try to be creative the most important thing is that you are trying to create something beautiful to remember the loved ones that have passed away.

In my case, I have a very little shelf that my husband decided to get for me and I just have the photos of my loved ones, tissue paper, some plastic skulls, and artificial flowers. (My ofrenda is the one at the top of the post).

So, it doesn’t matter how big or small is your ofrenda and even if you are not Mexican, I am ok with others taking our traditions and honoring them. The most important thing for me is to remember the loved ones that are no longer with us.



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