Celebrate Halloween with a Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) themed dinner party filled with decorative sugar skulls (calaveras de azucar in Español) that embrace the lighthearted American holiday while still honoring Mexican traditions. Sugar (azucar) is said to balance the bitterness of death (muerte), and calaveras are traditionally offered on All Saint’s Day (November 1) to departed loved ones as one would leave flowers graveside. As Halloween serves to poke fun at all things scary, Dia de los Muertos is intended as a way to accept death as inevitable… and also to honor dearly departed loved ones. Representational calacas (colloquial term for skeletons) symbolize the idea of life being inextricably linked with death, and have migrated north from Mexico into American Halloween celebrations as themed décor. By using one celebration as a theme for the other, the two concepts combine to poke a little fun at death as not being so scary!
The vivacious tablecloth was made from fabric printed with customary Dia de los Muertos imagery in vibrant illustrations over a black background. (Purchase the cloth, glass candles, & large decorative skulls from Le fidèLe Designs affiliate Joann Fabric & Crafts whose clickable ad appears in the sidebar.)
Exotically painted salad plates sit atop solid purple dishes to evoking the brightly embroidered dresses of Mexico. (Purchase the salad plates from Le fidèLe Designs affiliate Cost Plus World Market whose clickable ad appears in the sidebar.) Lustrously glittered napkin rings of sugar skulls hold death black napkins in their icy grip. (Learn how to craft the napkin rings here: DIY Calaveras de Azucar (Sugar Skulls) Napkin Rings, Wine Glass Charms, & Vase Craft Tutorial.)
Crafted sugar skull wine glass charms embellish virgin sangria (fruity wine beverage known by the Spanish name for blood) filled vessels. (Learn how to easily make the charms here: DIY Calaveras de Azucar (Sugar Skulls) Napkin Rings, Wine Glass Charms, & Vase Craft Tutorial.)
The tablescape is illuminated with Catholic religious candles (as a nod to All Saint’s Day) not decorated with santos (saints) but with Dia de los Muertos imagery. Small homemade luminarias (lanterns) filled with tea-light candles are tied with the same multi-colored yarn of the banners, charms, and vase. (Learn how to inexpensively make these here: Easy DIY Upcycled Can Tea-light Luminarias + Free Printable Template & Tissue Paper Flowers Crafts.)
A clear square vase, decorated with crystals depicting Day of the Dead imagery, is filled with black glass marbles holding a tightly packed arrangement of cempasuchil (wild marigolds) which are typically left for the departed as ofrendas (offerings at altars or graves). (Learn how to quickly make the vase here: DIY Calaveras de Azucar (Sugar Skulls) Napkin Rings, Wine Glass Charms, & Vase Craft Tutorial.)
Small edible sugar skulls serve as both customary folk art décor and sweet after dinner treat. (Get the easy recipe here: Calaveras de Azucar (Sugar Skulls) Edible Folk Art & Egg-Free Candy Recipe.)
A polychromatic Mexican serape (wool shawl) covers lifts which elevate central elements of the centerpiece unseen. Ornamental calavera (skull) novios (brides and grooms) ceremoniously occupy the centerpiece. (Calacas, skeletons, dressed in wedding attire are a common theme describing the circle of life.)
Awaiting a guest of honor, is a handcrafted Mexican parade mask portraying la calavera catrina (which is an iconic image of a wealthy Euro-Mexican lady from the 1800’s). When worn, ½ of the face is covered with a skull representation it symbolizes the idea of life being inextricably linked with death. Banners of traditional papel picado (pierced paper) and painted sugar skulls of novios adorn the background of the festive tablescape. (Learn how to easily craft the mask and banner here: DIY La Calavera Catrina Costume Mask & Calaveras de Azucar (Sugar Skulls) Banner for a Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) Themed Halloween.)
Feliz Dia de los Muertos!