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Day of the Dead Altars - Fixin's & Candle Holders

Dia de los muertos ofrenda, Michoacan, Mexico - photo by A. Villalba


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.

Download our Ofrenda info & check list

Vera Cruz man holding marigolds in a cemetary truck full of marigolds, Mexico

Silk Marigold Bouquets

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. Each bouquet has 9 flowers. Mix gold & orange for greatest realistic effect.

Silk Marigold Bouquet » 9 GOLD flowers, 13" tall
F2029 $9 each

Silk Marigold Bouquet » 9 ORANGE flowers, 13" tall
F2045 $9 each

Box of a Dozen Marigolds » 6 orange + 6 gold bouquets
F4042 $85 / dozen bouquets

Women in front of a mound of new orange and yellow silk marigolds at our warehouse
Gold with orange highlights silk marigold (cempasuchil) bouquet with 9 flowers papier mache sugar skull surrounded by gold and orange silk marigolds Orange with gold highlights silk marigold (cempasuchil) bouquet with 9 flowers

Gold Silk Marigold Bouquet

1 bouquet with 9 flowers
A papier mâché skull in bed of marigolds makes a striking centerpiece! Mix gold & orange for greatest realistic effect.

Orange Silk Marigold Bouquet

1 bouquet with 9 flowers

miniature day of the dead altar table traditional white copal incense Black copal / incense cup

Altar Table

This wood table exemplifies a feast fit for a muerto! It's heaped up with sugar skulls, candles, sugar cane, pan de muerto, cempasuchil, copal incense burner and a big pot of mole covered in sesame seeds. 4" high x 4" wide x 3" deep. Mexico
A1293 $24 each

See more Skeleton Miniatures

Traditional Copal Incense

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, Mexico. Approx 6 1/2" tall.
A2012 $16 each

2 papier mache girl baby dolls, one small with yellow outfit and one mini with green outfit

NEW Baby Dolls

Exquisite miniature papier mache dolls with movable arms and legs in the style of the Celeya dolls of the Porfiriato (1870 – 1910). These are perfect for baby ofrendas celebrated on November 1. Celeya papier mache. Assorted colors. Mexico

(right) Small Baby Doll, 4" tall. A3014 $20 each

(left) Mini Baby Doll, 3" tall. A3015 $15 each

NEW Monarch Butterfly String

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 butterflies 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.

about this Monarch Butterfly string - learn more »

A4034 $15 / string

9 Monarch butterflies perfect for ofrendas

FELIZ DIA DE MUERTOS banner string Letters from repurposed muertos banner showing different kids book cutouts

NEW Repurposed Muertos Banner

Made from hard cover children’s story books! Hard cardboard letters are strung together on black ribbon to hang in dining room, classroom or across an ofrenda. Uniquely ours. So durable that you can keep it up all year long. Each string extends approx. 6 feet, but you can adjust the spacing on the string. Handcrafted in Oregon.
A3007 $15 each

NEW Oaxaca Sugar Skulls with Glitter Eyes

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

NEW Sugar Skull Wrapping Paper

How cool is this? The perfect paper to wrap gifts for sugar skull lovers! Also ideal to adorn your altar de muertos or use with Day of the Dead craft projects.

Each piece is 34' long x 19.5" wide. Sold in packs of 12 sheets, folded in thirds. Made in Mexico.

Purple Sugar Skull Gift Wrap

A4048 $12 / 12 sheets


Black Sugar Skull Gift Wrap

A4049 $12 / 12 sheets
Purple Day of the Dead gift wrap with colorul sugar skulls and marigold edging on the top and bottom
Black Day of the Dead gift wrap with colorul sugar skulls and marigold edging on the top and bottom

NEW Black Cast Skull Candles

A splendid addition to any ofrenda. Candles are cast in molds from fine quality wax in San Miguel de Allende. The candles are then hand painted with intricate floral and vine patterns. This 17th-century tradition of candle painting originated in central Mexico from by church artists who decorated the "santuario" altar side stations of the cross. Many 16th - 18th-century churches had soap and candle production on-site which supplied outpost churches and even sold their handmade products in the marketplace.

3 3/4” high x 2 3/4" wide x 3 3/4" deep. Mexico

Red (center) A3010 $34 each (out)

Rosa Mexicana A3009 (not shown)

Turquoise (right) A3011 $34 each

Metallic - A 3xxx $34 each (not shown)

These candles burn a center column for over 15 hours, and then collapse - but for 15 hours the skulls look great. Be sure to burn on a saucer.
3 Black Cast Skull Candles - with yellow, red, or turquoise designs.

NEW Wax Rose Bouquet Altar Candles

Rose bouquet altar candles are a Mexican art that is disappearing! These laborious, ingenious candles are made by hand in small villages around the country. Once the main center pillar of the candle is made, the flowers are made by dipping different clay molds and little round pots into buckets of hot wax. After they are dipped 6 times, they are plunged into cold water to loosen the wax from the pot. While the wax is playable, the artist cuts petals into the half sphere shape. Several diameters of round petals are placed on top of one another and then stuck onto the main candle. These bouquet candles will add a lot of interest on your ofrenda!

Large Wax Rose Bouquet Altar Candle (Rosa Mexicana) 8" high x 3" wide
A3016 $34 each

Small Wax Rose Bouquet Altar Candle (Golden Yellow) 3 1/2" high x 2" wide
A3017 $16.00 each (temporarily out)

These candles can be made extremely big and extraordinarily well detailed with colors and even gold leaf. In the Oaxacan village of Teotitlán del Valle, 4 foot candles are commissioned by the grooms family for the engagement procession to ask for the girl's hand in marriage. The more expensive and fancy the candles are, the more the groom looks "stable and well to do" and impresses the girl's father. The same candle makers can create special 6 foot candles for religious holidays to decorate the church.

Candle Holders

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.

Metepec Tree-of-Life Candelabras

Wonderful skeleton painted clay candle holders for your altar to celebrate Day of the Dead. Mexico.

Skeleton Band & Muertos Ofrenda candelabras (top row).
Solo musico, Skeleton Musico Trio & Two Skeleton musicos (middle row). 3 skull candelabras (bottom row)

Tree of Life candle holder with 3 skeletons Tree of Life candelabra with 1 skeleton playing a guitar

Tree Of Life Candelabra ~ 3 Skulls

1 candle cup. 5 1/2 " tall x 6 1/2" wide. Mexico
$24 each

Tree Of Life Candelabra ~ Solo Skeleton Musico

1 candle cup, 7 1/2 " tall x 8”wide. Mexico

Tree of Life candelabra with 2 skeleton musicians, 1 playing a guitar, the other a sax Tree of Life candelabra with 3  skeleton musicians - playing a horn, drum and flute - with lots of green leaves and colorful cempasuchil

NEW Tree Of Life Candelabra ~ Two Skeleton Musicos

3 candle cups. 8” tall x 10” wide. Mexico
F2260 $65 each

NEW Tree Of Life Candelabra ~ Skeleton Musico Trio

3 candle cups. 12" tall x 12" wide. Mexico
F2261 $85 each (out)

Tree of Life candelabra with 6 skeleton musicians with colorful hats and lots of green leaves and colorful cempasuchil Tree of Life candelabra with 6 skeleton carrying ofrenda items  and lots of green leaves and colorful cempasuchil

NEW Tree Of Life Candelabra ~ Skeleton Band

5 candle cups, 6 musicians – drummers, cymbals, clarinet, tuba, & trumpet. 16” tall x 15” wide. Mexico
F2262 $185 each

NEW Tree Of Life Candelabra ~ Muertos Ofrenda

5 candle cups. Skeletons bringing fruit, animals, cempasuchil, champurrado (drinks), etc. 16” tall x 15” wide. Mexico
F2263 $185 each

Ceramic Candle Holders

Beautifully detailed candle holders from Izucar de Matamoros, Puebla, Mexico. Assorted designs & colors.

Sold individually. Approx. 8 in. tall

Flower Senorita F2031 $45

Charro F2033 $45

Izucar de Matamoros ceramic senorita & charrocandle holder

NEW Metal Tree of Life candle holder

Traditional floral design from Jalisco. 3 depositos with flowers, leaves & birds. 11” high x 11” wide x 5” deep. (right)

A4003 $75 each

metal tree of life for 3 candles

NEW Metal Single Tree of Life candle holder

Same traditional floral design from Jalisco. 1 candle deposito with flowers & leaves. 10” high x 6” wide x 5” deep.

A4004 $48 each

(Same style as 3-candle deposito. photo coming soon)

colorful ceramic skull lantern for tea light or candle

Talavera Skull Lantern

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 (out temporarily)
medium talavera skull lantern
Large & medium talavera skull lanterns

Talking Head Clay Skull Candleholder

Guadalupe Tin Shrine - recycled can art

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

Clay Altar Skull blank next to tea light Clay Altar Skull Blank with tea light inside

Paint your own!
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.)
A2356 $10 each | A2356-12 $100 / dozen (12) I A2356-60 $450 / 5 dozen (60)

Thanks to Jeff S. for sharing his painted clay altar skulls - “Just wanted to say thanks for the great service on the clay skulls I ordered. They arrived on time and were a HUGE hit. Attached is a pic of some of the finished ones.”

See more Day of the Dead craft supplies >>>

NEW Heart Relicarios

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.

Six Heart Reliquarios

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.

Two jeweled flaming heart shell reliquarios Open large shell reliquario 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

Large Flaming Heart Reliquario

Hanging Reliquario Heart with Amber Crystal Jewels Flaming Heart Reliquario – Medium

NEW Large Flaming Heart Relicario

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
Open (below)
A3991 $45 each

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 x 7” wide x 1.25” deep
Open (below)
A3988 $95 each

NEW Medium Flaming Heart Relicario

Mixed metal with antique finish & lightly etched. Twisted wire edge. Ring hanger.
3.25” high x 2” wide x 1” deep
Open (below)
A3992 $28 each

open large Flaming Heart Reliquario

Open Hanging Reliquario Heart with Amber Crystal Jewels Flaming Heart Reliquario – Medium (open)
Glitter metal flowers on a stem Box wrappted with a glitter metal flower Glitter metal leaf stem

NEW Glitter Metal Flowers

On a stem. Silver filament wire is hand woven silvery wire over wire petal armature.
A3996 $8.50 per stem

NEW Glitter Metal Leaves

On a stem. 11” tall.
A3995 $8.50 per stem
Metal Glitter flower close-up Box of candy wrappted with a glitter metal leaf Glitter leaves close-up

handmade mulit-color paper Mini Roses

Dime-size Mini Paper Roses

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.

F2052 $5 / bunch

NEW Mini Bouquets

Great for decorating sugar skulls! Flower petals made from dyed wood shaving with wire stems. Thailand. Bright colors – 10 orange, 10 magenta & 10 red with 1.5” wire stems

A2360 $5 / pack of 30 flowers

Mini bouquet with 10 each orange, magenta & red flowers made from dyed wood shavings
Flying skeleton angel with white feathered wings

Skeleton Angel

Flying Angel Skeleton

Our Exclusive Design
With white feather wings made by our resident papier mache artist. I have mine dangling over my computer! Finely painted skeleton with feathers, halo and string. Very nice gift for the Day of the Dead collector who has everything! The detail and gold paint job on the skeleton body is beautiful. Makes a nice, unusual gift. Folk art like this is traditionally hung on the children's "angelito" ofrendas on November 1. Approx 7" x 7" Made in Mexico

A1162 $46 each

Angel Wired Skeleton Miniature

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.

Perfect to celebrate the return of the angelitos, this clay winged angel has wire joints so you can move it around. 5” tall x 3” wide. Mexico

A2181 $28 each (out temporarily)

Recycled tin heart frame recycled tin heart frame detail

close-up detail

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

3 unlit Lux Perpetual altar candles

Lux Veladoras Candles

The iconic design of the candle wrapper has Dolorosa in the center, flanked by kneeling angels. Above, the words say, “Light my path - Perpetual Light”
4 1/2" high x 2 1/2" wide. Mexico

A3008 $9.50 each (temporarily out)

We're very excited to finally get my favorite Mexican candles in. These are steeped in tradition and haven't changed much in over 150 years! (I see now the wrapper says “Ecological & Biodegradable” and there's even a bar code!) But these are the work-horse candles used by real people all over Mexico to burn on their home altars and tombs - and taken to church for special prayer requests. These candles burn slow, and turn to oil before being consumed. They burn for days in a church. We recommend you place the candle on a protective plate before lighting.


Day of the Dead Ofrendas

photos by MexicanSugarSkull.com
altar, Puebla Mexico


Ofrenda of our master papel picado artist (Puebla, Mexico)


Visit our collection his beautiful
hand-cut Papel Picado Banners for Day of the Dead


Ofrenda, Oaxaca Mexico ofrenda, forever cemetery
Dia de Muertos public ofrenda, Oaxaca, Mexico Annual Hollywood Forever Cemetery Dia de los Muertos Celebration
day of the dead party, private home, los angeles, 2010. photo by s. kullmann
Day of the Dead celebration, private home, Los Angeles

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