How to Throw an Authentic Day of the Dead Party
Plan a festive, colorful and authentic Day of the Dead party! We have ideas for decorations, costumes, food and more for your Día de los Muertos celebration.
You probably know that it’s a Latin American holiday that happens around Halloween…but beyond that, what is Día de los Muertos?
During this two-day party, people remember departed loved ones and celebrate their lives—first children on November 1, then adults on November 2. Think of it as a family reunion of sorts.
Here’s everything you’ll need to throw a proper Day of the Dead party, including classic attire, colorful decorations and delicious foods.
Make Invitations with Bright Colors
Use your Day of the Dead party invitations to get guests excited about the celebration! For a theme, think vibrant colors and intricate designs, along with drawings of skulls, flowers, candles and picado (that’s cut paper) banners. These Etsy invitations are a perfect example.
Set a Ghostly Dress Code
To evoke the drama and intrigue of the Day of the Dead tradition, give your guests suggestions for traditional attire: flowing gowns embellished with lace, long gloves, flowers in the hair, tuxedo jackets, top hats and tail coats. For a less formal party, suggest fun and inexpensive skeleton-printed T-shirts, tops or leggings.
Decorate with Skulls, Candles and Cut Paper
Plan ahead to gather gorgeous Day of the Dead decorations for your party. Order from Amazon or head to your local craft and party stores for decorated skulls, banners, colorful paper fans and tissue paper flowers. Take a cue from a traditional Day of the Dead altar or ofrenda. Set tables draped with long tablecloths and decorated with roses, marigolds, lighted candles, paper fans and skulls.
Plan on Face Painting
The face and body makeup at Day of the Dead parades is stunning! Set up a station at your party where guests can have their faces painted like a skull or with the ornate floral patterns and colors of the holiday. Even easier, pick up a pack of these Day of the Dead temporary face tattoos.
Cook Traditional Latin Food
Make sure your Day of the Dead menu is ready with authentic Mexican foods! Make one of these Latin appetizers. Pair baked beans mole with homemade tortillas for a warming dinner. Try other classics like tamales, enchiladas, dips and chilis for an authentic spread at your celebration.
Serve Festive Sweets for Dessert
The sweets for your party should be as beautiful as the decorations. Make showstopping Mexican desserts like tres leches cupcakes and creamy caramel flan. (Not to mention the gorgeous Day of the Dead cookies.) A mug of warm Mexican hot chocolate will round out the party nicely. Look for local candy makers who might make traditional sugar skulls, too.
Play Latin Music
Dancing and music are an integral part to the Day of the Dead celebrations, so set the tone for your party with Mexican and Latin American music. Play CDs or search your music streaming service (like Spotify or Pandora) for traditional folk music, current Latin artists or a mix of both.
Do Something Special for Los Niños
Get kids in on Day of the Dead, too! They’ll love the face painting and costumes, as well as the vivid colors and lively music. Make bite-sized treats like these chicken empanadas, and for dessert, Mexican cinnamon cookies. For a grand finale, hold a screening of the Disney Pixar movie Coco, which takes place on the Day of the Dead!