A Modern Dia De Los Muertos Altar


Since I was a little girl, Dia De Los Muertos was my very favorite holiday. It’s important you know that this holiday is not about death, it’s about celebrating life. Day of the Dead is a perfect look at the beauty and joy of Hispanic heritage.

This year, I got to celebrate in partnership with The Home Depot.

When building my ofrenda (altar), it was important to do a little damage to my recently painted walls, after all this is a temporary setup.

Creating an Arch

The arch of an altar represents the passage between death and the living world.

Vanessa is putting black frames on a green wall for Dia De Los Muertos Altar
Hanging frames for Dia De Los Muertos Altar

To create my arch, I used two branches (literally from outside) and bound them together using VELCRO®Brand ONE-WRAP® Ties. These straps were perfect for keeping my arch taught and they can be reused for future projects or cable organization.

Hanging Decor

Hanging decor from the ceiling, ALWAYS makes things look a little fancy. The key is to make it look like it’s a floating art installation.

I secured 1 1/4 inch hooks to the ceiling to hang my arch. Because the arch weighs very little, I did not need additional hooks but it you are installing these in your home be sure to check the weight capacity and use anchors as needed.

My hooks were white which made them basically invisible against the ceiling. If you have a painted ceiling, consider spray painting your hooks to match your ceiling.

Part two to making this art installation look amazing, invisible hanging wire. Cut your hanging wire to your desired length and tie a loop on each end.

Tools for Hanging Decor:

Photos of Your Loved Ones

The hardest part for me this year was adding my dad’s picture to my altar. I had to remember that hanging his image is a way to keep his memory alive and to highlight the joy he brought to my life.

You can hang photos of your loved ones any way you like. I opted for a more polished layout including picture frames from The Home Depot.

Using Command Strips I was able to avoid putting more holes in the wall. I’ve been using command strips since my college dorm room days and they have never done me wrong.

I’ve been using Command strips since my college dorm room days. They really hold up and the best part is they hide behind your decor nicely and don’t take your eye away from your beautiful work.

Adding Personal Touches

What makes an altar special is customizing it to your style and adding personal touches that remind you of the people you love. 

My dad had a huge sweet tooth so I added pan dulce which he never turned down. The sarapes is a blanket or shawl made by Mexican artisans is a perfect reminder of how vibrant and embracing our culture is. 

My mom had a deep deep love for flowers so it’s fitting to use as many marigolds and greenery to honor her. Marigolds are a beautiful symbol of Dia De Los Muertos, they represent the fragility of life. Their bold color and strong smell are said to attract the spirits of our loved ones.

At the end of the day, the most important thing is that you altar honors your loved ones. I invite you to create your own altar, in your own way and to celebrate the people who your heart may be missing.

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