Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead)

My husband is Puerto Rican. We lovingly joke our daughter is “Sorta Rican.” Since finding out we were pregnant, we’ve tried to keep T connected to her Latin heritage. Her middle name is Spanish, we watch Plaza Sesamo, I attempt to speak Spanish at home whenever possible. But it wasn’t until I watched Coco that I even thought about celebrating Dia de los Muertos. Honestly, until I asked my mother-in-law, I wasn’t even sure if it was celebrated by Puerto Ricans. 

I ran the idea by my husband, and he loved it. We probably will not celebrate correctly or do everything traditionally. But this is a new tradition for us and we will celebrate it our way.

For those of you unfamiliar with the holiday, Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is typically celebrated from October 31st to November 2nd. The day focuses on family. You get together to remember loved ones who have died and pray for their spiritual journey in the afterlife. By creating an altar (or ofrenda) in your home, you are inviting the spirits of those who have passed to visit.

T and I began to gather the materials we needed to make our ofrenda. The basic things you need are photos of loved ones who have passed, candles, tissue paper decorations, flowers (traditionally marigolds), sugar skulls, water, and food. Each element has it’s own special purpose and meaning. You can read more about the specific details here.

The first thing we did was find photos of our loved ones who have died, some who unfortunately never got to meet T. We included our family dog in the collection of photos too. I found a tutorial for making paper flowers (both roses and marigolds) and cut my take on traditional patterns from tissue paper. We opted for flameless candles (you know, toddlers and all…). We were able to find sugar skulls at a local craft store in the Halloween section. The only element we haven’t added yet is food. We will probably end up using play food just for simplicity’s sake.

Our Dia de los Muertos ofrenda may not be exactly traditional, but this is a symbolic gesture in our home and we are still figuring it all out. Hopefully, this will encourage us to tell our daughter more stories about family members who are no longer with us. And, it will also help her to feel more connected to her Latin heritage as she grows up. 

What traditions from family do you celebrate with your kids? Comment below or tell us on our Facebook page. 


  1. At Christmas, I celebrate my German heritage with the kids. We have marizapan candy. We open presents Christmas Eve.

  2. What great ideas for celebrating T’s heritage! I didn’t know “Plaza Sesamo” was a show – definitely looking that up for future viewing with my toddler. We always carve a pumpkin and roast the seeds. We bring treats to our neighbors since G is too little to eat candy herself!

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