How-To: Start Building a Day of the Dead Altar!


Crafty Chica Challenge: Create a Day of the Dead Shrine
Today I started working on my shrine for The Day of the Dead. It’s very rewarding to put my creative energy towards a tribute to my friends and family who have passed on. I am thrilled to share the process of creating it, as part of the excitement for the Crafty Chica Challenge! I was introduced to the tradition 11 years ago by my mother-in-law, who always creates a spectacular altar. She maintains a smaller version year round, and I often reflect on it when I visit.
The first step I take is to gather materials. I collected some fabric to cover the space, purchased flowers from the farmer’s market, and tied garlands out of scraps. Then I dug out all the photos I have, and mementos of my loved ones, including door knobs from a relative’s home in Ohio, the lighter that belonged to my husband’s grandfather, seashells from my grandmother, and little treasures such as feathers and butterflies. The skulls are a crucial part of the traditional Day of the Dead altar. I found sage, incense and candles as as well.
To build the bones of my altar, I’ve stacked up books to add height in the back, and then covered the entire thing with a table cloth that was used by my grandma. This will allow me to have varying heights, and a lovely lace motif.
Then I hung the garlands. I love how festive they look! Draping them at different lengths creates a ton of visual interest. And voila! All that’s left is to decorate, and then add the offerings like cornmeal and liquor and candy skulls! Tonight I’ll sit down and sift through the old photographs, reliving all my favorite memories. That’s just about the best part, right? Tomorrow I’ll begin the adornments, and share photos of course! And please, include your altars in the Crafty Chica Day of the Dead Challenge!

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