Press "Enter" to skip to content

The Ofrenda

The ofrenda, or altar, is central in the observance of the Dia de los Muertos. The families of the deceased will construct the altar in order to maintain good relations between the family members on earth and the family of the afterworld. The decor of the arch will vary from region to region and can range from very expensive to very simple depending on the family’s income. Everything placed on the altar must be new and fresh.

Anything that the dearly departed enjoyed during his or her lifetime will be displayed on the altar: favorite foods, beverages, photographs of the deceased, and religious images. Flowers, tombstones, skulls and skeletons, burning candles and incense will also adorn the altar. Some common foods prepared for the dead include: chicken mole, fruit, beans, tamales, corn, chocolate and water to refresh the weary traveler in his long journey back home.


12 X 18-inch sheets of tissue paper or foil

glue stick

2 – 3 long branches/twigs tied together, depending on the size of the altar.

yarn or ribbon


Arrange sheets of paper lengthwise in order of desired colors. Glue sheets together, overlapping ends 1/2 inch. Roll the tissue around the twigs and glue the open sides. Gently bunch and twist the tissue paper and tie with yarn or ribbon to each section of the arch. Shape and curve to the size of the altar and tape in place. Hang garlands of strung flowers, vegetables, chiles, fruit etc.