Ofrendas are built inside the homes of the believers of Day of the Dead in Central and Southern Mexico. While there are regional differences in styles of the ofrendas due to income or custom, there are many altar mainstays to greet the weary spirits when they arrive. The children return on November first and the adults join their families on November 2.
Children's ofrendas are customized and decorated with delightful foods, candies and toys in miniature... miniature tamales, chocolates, tiny breads etc. Adult ofrendas feature the traditional candles, fruit, tamales, mole, mezcal, cempasuchil as well as photos, fashion magazines, cigars or folk art skeletons... and every ofrenda has pan de muerto and sugar skulls!
This impressive ofrenda in Michoacan uses aromatic marigolds, colored corn, and very unusually shaped pan de muerto breads, that represent female spirits of the dead.
Read our Ofrenda Information Sheet & Check List (PDF) here
Read our Day of the Dead information sheet (PDF) here
A papier mâché skull in bed
of marigolds makes a striking centerpiece!
Marigolds are the typical flower used for Day of the Dead but hard
to find in the U.S. during November. These silk marigolds (or cempasuchil)
may be used in vases or cut apart for your altar-making.
Mix gold & orange for greatest realistic effect.
For ofrendas. 1 oz. of white Copal which is considered to be the highest quality, used by the Cathedral in Mexico City. Comes with 1 roll of fast-igniting charcoal disks. A2153 $18 /set
Black Shiny Incense Burner
Shiny black rustically fired traditional clay copal incense burner from Puebla, roll of charcoal discs and 1/2 oz. of Mexican copal resin incense. Approx 6 1/2" tall. A2012 $25 / set
On home ofrendas, it's quite common to find candle holders burning handmade candles round the clock to welcome the returning spirits. The candle holders represent the style of pottery made in a village. The green glazed candle holders is traditional to Michoacan. Below, the skeleton bands are from north of Mexico City. The double-glazed Izucar candle holders are from Puebla.
Wonderful skeleton painted clay candle holders for your altar to celebrate Day of the Dead. Mexico.
The cutout eyes flicker & glow with the flame of tea lights which fit nicely inside the ceramic skull. Each one is hand painted with a unique design, but all look very similar to the photo. Bright assorted colors. Mexico
Large (7.5" high) A2257 $36 each
Medium (5.5" high) A2258 $24 each
NEW Talking Clay Skull Candle Holder
Wired mouth moves.
Approx 6” tall x 4” wide x 3” deep. Mexico A2344 $38 each
Guadalupe Tin Shrine
The epitome of folk ark using recycled cans, hammered with intricate designs and painted with automotive paints all to delight the venerated Virgin. Comes with tea light. When lit the entire shrine shimmers. 4" x 7" x 2.5" deep. Mexico. A1262$30 each
See more Virgin of Guadalupe altar items
NEW Clay Altar Skull Blanks
I love these! These clay skulls are fired and can either be glazed & fired or painted with acrylic paints or glitter glue. Perfect to cover a tea light for your table, ofrenda or tombstone decor. Kids & adults will enjoy making these for gifts.
Well made by a family near San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. 3” tall x 3” wide x 3 1/2” deep, 1” hole, 3/8” deep eyes. (Candle not included.)
In Michoacan, Mexico, Day of the Dead is extra special because of the annual migration of the monarch butterflies. A true mystery of nature, these beautiful, big orange butterfies return to the villages & countryside during the week of Day of the Dead. Now, legend says that they are the spirits of returning loved ones.
When I found these hand-painted monarch garlands, I ignored my “anti-China” purchasing prejudice and had to get these. They are painted on a kind of silk flower material that looks like real butterfly wings. They will be great for our ofrendas makers who might even want to restring them horizontally, as they only come in vertical strings. They are very good quality and come in a nice box. Size is approx. 4 in wide. Garland extends 80” long on clear fishing line string. 9 butterflies.
Hand decorated clay. Perfect for altar decorations - or when you need a sugar skull in your pocket,1.5 inches each. Mexico. Set of 4, assorted eye colors. A4033$12 / set of 4
In Latin America, a relicario is a small, finely detailed devotional pendant used by the Catholic Church to hold cherished relics and mementos of the saints. In the more common definition, a relicario is a special, beautiful container to hold something precious.
In a Catholic church, relicarios are seen on the side altars, pinned to a garment or held by an elegant statue of a saint. A piece of the cross Christ died on, a locket of hair from a saint or something extremely precious could be inside the precious, locket-like necklace.
In 1990, I made friends with the maintenance man from the Oaxacan cathedral who offered me a personal VIP tour from the basement to the winding steps of the tallest tower. He showed me a relicario that had a shriveled up finger of a Mexican saint inside. The side altars in big old churches in Mexico have all kinds of unique, gorgeous as well as humble relicarios. Some were sent from European churches, while others have been made of the finest materials and artistry the Church can attain - sterling silver from Guanajuato, carved shell from the Coast, carved coconut inlaid with mother of pearl shell or silver filigree.
Some relicarios find their way to Mexican antique shops, but these are usually from home altars or chapels. What makes a relicario different from a milagro is that there is a hidden place to put a little precious something inside. Usually they are larger than a locket for a photo, and can be as large as a pizza box if it's adorning a major saint in the front of a church.
Relative size of the relicario offered below
We have found a workshop that is making nice reproductions of French relicarios of the mid to late 1800's. They are not Tiffany's fine jeweled style, but rather, more crude and artisanal; but they do authentically reproduce cut crystals, hammered initials, repoussé stretched & hammered pot metal as well as rough hand made hinges. If you are wanting a fine, high class, jewelry-like relicario, you wouldn't be pleased with these. But if you like the more humble, heart-felt relicarios to put special mementos in, these are fabulously perfect! I've had friends put love notes, lockets of hair of a baby or a love, fortune cookie fortunes, poems, prayers, ashes… any kind of precious thing that shouldn't be rattling around in your under ware drawer. These make lovely, thoughtful, keepsake gifts for someone special.
open Shell Reliquario (large)
NEW Shell Relicario (large)
(left) Jeweled Flaming Heart reliquario with shell and over 130 inlaid crystals. Opens from the back. 7.5” high x 4” wide x .75” deep. Ring hanger. A3989$90 each
NEW Shell Relicario (medium)
(right) Jeweled Flaming Heart Reliquario with shell and over 100 inlaid rhinestones. Opens from the back. 5”h x 3”w x .75” d Ring hanger. A3990 $72 each
NEW Flaming Heart Relicario (large)
Mixed metal with antique finish. Ample space inside heart which opens from the back. Twisted wire edge and lightly etched decorations.
6.5” high x 3.5” wide x 1.75” deep. A3991$45 each
Below - open Flaming Heart Relicario (large)
New Hanging Relicario Heart with Amber Crystal Jewels
Hangs from a 28” chain & also has a ring to hang on wall or hang by chain. Opens from back to place treasures inside the heart chamber. 9” high 7” wide x 1.25” deep A3988 $95 each
Below - open Hanging Relicario Heart
NEW Flaming Heart Relicario (medium)
Mixed metal with antique finish & lightly etched. Twisted wire edge. Ring hanger.
3.25” high x 2” wide x 1” deep A3992 $28 each
Below - open Flaming Heart Relicario (medium)
NEW Cast Metal Flaming Heart Milagro
with antique finish. 6” high x 4” wide x .5” deep. Imperfections are part of their charm. Rough quality. A3993 $24 each
NEW Glitter Metal Flowers
On a stem. Silver filament wire is hand woven silvery wire over wire petal armature. A3996 $8.50 per stem
Handmade by 5 old ladies in Mexico City.... and furthermore, Angela's mother got drafted to assort the colors once they hit state side! She's done thousands! These adorable roses are bright & beautiful and can be used for wrapping napkins, wedding decorations, cards, cello bags, sugar skulls or decorating something special. Assorted colors-wire stems. A bunch is 12 roses.
Colors - We now have only bright colors available. The brights include red, bougainvillea and marigold orangy/yellow. No pastels.
Our Exclusive Design With white feather wings made by our resident papier mache artist. Finely painted skeleton with feathers, halo and string. Very nice gift for the Day of the Dead collector who has everything!
Approx 7" x 7"
November 1, the first day of Day of the Dead, is when dead children are celebrated. Families look forward to reuniting with their "angelitos" (little angels) and decorate the home ofrenda with colorful flowers, incense and special arrays of goodies - all in miniature! Little special candies in toy shapes, mini tamales that are not too spicy - in Oaxaca, mothers press chocolate into mini shapes to delight the spirits of their angelitos.
In markets all over Mexico, tiny little candles are wrapped in blue and pink shimmering paper to burn on the ofrendas. The Zapotec Indians construct miniature, child size altars (about 2 feet square) that sit at the foot of the big ofrenda in their living rooms. Great care and attention is expressed in every detail.
This jointed bendable angelito is perfect for a child's ofrenda and it can sit or stand in playful poses. This is the style of folk art in Puebla, Mexico. Clay. About 5 inches tall.
Papier mache. 7.5” tall x 3.5” wide A2337 $28 each
NEW Skeleton Angel Baby
Papier mache. 5” tall x 4” wide. Mexico A2336 A2336 $22 each
NEW Skeleton Angel Papa
Papier mache. 7.5” tall x 3.5” wide A2338 A2338 $28 each
Recycled Tin Heart Frame
Hammered frame topped with a flaming heart on top and scroll designs and hearts around the oval picture frame. You personalize with a photo of your muerto or old postcard - (We used a calendar girl in the photo. Tin heart frames come with a photo of the Virgin of Guadalupe). The tin shows pieces of Mexican juice cans! Oval 9 ”high x 8” wide. No two alike. Mexico A1266 $85 each
Please watch to video to find out all about these unique, wonderful amulet bottles!
Good Luck Amulet Bottle
Peru, 6.5" x 3.5" (Cat not included)
A1250 $20 each