This Mexican holiday, celebrated on November 1st and 2nd, is far from a day of mourning. Rather, Dia de los Muertos is a joyful, laughter-filled tribute to the memory of family and friends that have passed away. Observers believe that the dead would be offended by grieving and sadness, so instead they honor their loved ones with celebrations that include the activities that the dead enjoyed in life.
I’ve got four tips to help you capture the festive spirit of Dia de los Muertos on you front porch this fall, starting with…
Tip 1: Use vibrant colors
Dia de los Metros is equal parts solemn and joyous. With this in mind, start with bright, vibrant colors when planning your decor. I chose primarily red, yellow, purple, and teal for my front porch, combined with classic black and white. The Paper Los Muertos Banners are a great way to add a touch of all of the colors of the holiday. These banners are hand-cut by artisans in Mexico and feature intricate images of traditional symbols of the holiday, including skulls and flowers. Keep in mind, however, that these banners are best suited for covered porches where they are protected from the elements since they are cut from tissue paper.
Tip 2: Incorporate calacas and calaveras
Two popular symbols of Dia de los Muertos are calacas and calaveras (skeletons and skulls), which adorn nearly everything during the holiday. The Los Muertos Reversible Indoor Outdoor Rio Floor Mat makes a major statement, and definitely sets the mood on my front porch. It’s also super comfy underfoot for those like me who are frequently barefoot.
Music plays an important role in the holiday and helps set a joyful atmosphere. During Dia de los Muertos, the dead are thought to be awakened from their sleep to take part in the festivities, so the calacas and calaveras are typically portrayed as enjoying life (or the afterlife). The three mariachi skeletons on the Day of the Dead Lumbar Pillow definitely seem to be enjoying the celebration!
Adding comfortable seating to your porch is a great way to extend an invitation for visitors to sit and enjoy the cheerful mood that you’ve created with your Dia de los Muertos decor.
Tip 3: Don’t forget the flowers and candles
During Dia de los Muertos, families create altars where they place ofrendas (offerings) or gifts to the deceased, such as their favorite foods. The altars typically also include flowers and candles.
To incorporate these traditional elements of the holiday without actually creating an altar, I used three large, red lanterns. In one, I placed a glass vase full of ivory and black paper roses and black daisy stems with skulls in the middle.
I used two more red lanterns for flameless LED pillar candles, which I elevated by placing them on top of blocks of wood that I wrapped in black and white striped ribbon. These candles are perfect for decorating the porch because they have a built-in five-hour timer – you simply turn them on at dusk the first night, and they turn themselves off five hours later. The candles then turn on and off automatically at the same times every day, so your porch will always bit lit up in the evening without having to remember to turn them on.
During the holiday, it is common for calacas to be portrayed wearing fancy or festive clothing, like these Dia de los Muertos Cone Figures. I wanted to incorporate them into my porch decor, but on their own they would have been dwarfed by the scale of the porch. Instead, I placed them inside the lanterns in front of the black and white striped wood blocks. The stripes help the figures stand out, and the layering and height variation inside the lanterns create the feeling of an altar.
Tip 4: Decorate with front door wreaths (an easy DIY project!)
Finally, what front porch decor would be complete without a wreath or two? I created very simple DIY Dia de los Muertos wreaths for my double front doors that incorporate traditional wooden calaveras. I purchased 14-inch foam wreath forms, ribbon, and vibrant colored flowers from my local craft store. The only other necessary supplies are ones you may already have on hand: scissors, hot glue, wire cutters, and thumbtacks.
1. Begin by unraveling a roll of ribbon and hot gluing one end to a foam wreath form.
2. Wrap the ribbon around the wreath form, overlapping just enough that no foam shows through.
3. If one roll of ribbon is not long enough to cover the entire wreath, glue the ribbon to the “back” of the wreath (the same side where you glued the initial piece), and then trim off any excess.
4. Use hot glue to attach a new piece of ribbon, matching it up with the end of the prior piece.
5. Continue wrapping the wreath until the entire thing is covered, cut the ribbon, and glue the end to the back of the wreath.
6. Use wire cutters to clip the flowers from their stems.
7. Liberally apply hot glue to the back of a flower and attach it to the wreath. The glue dries quickly, so work one flower at a time. Attach enough flowers to cover about 1/3 of the wreath.
8. Place a flathead thumbtack in the top center of the wreath and loop the jute attached to the mask around the thumbtack. Place a dab of hot glue under the head of the thumbtack. Then liberally cover the top of the thumbtack and the area around it with hot glue and allow to dry for a minute. This will prevent the weight of the mask from pulling the thumbtack out of place.
9. Attach a piece of solid-colored ribbon to the top of the wreath, near the thumbtack, using hot glue. Then loop the ribbon around the wreath a few times and tie a knot at the top of the wreath, positioning the knot so that the raw (glued) end of the ribbon is not visible.
Your wreath is now ready to hang on your front door, and your Dia de los Muertos front porch decor is complete!