Día de Muertos crafts to celebrate with family

A Dia de Muertos ofrenda is decorated with DIY papel picado and DIY Day of the Dead crafts for kids, including a DIY shadowbox and a DIY ofrenda photo frame made of painted popsicle sticks.

The sweet smell of pan de muerto baking, colorful decorations and pictures selected with care, special memories being shared—there’s just so much to celebrate during Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead or All Souls’ Day). 

Originating in Mexico, this holiday is dedicated to remembering loved ones who’ve passed away, honoring important traditions and bonding with family. One way to do all of this (and include even the smallest family members) is by making these festive Day of the Dead crafts. 

Keep reading to see how we made them and hear from Hallmarkers Alejandra G. and Sofia L. M. on how they enjoy the holiday (Get ready: they totally pulled on our heartstrings here!). 

Inspired? Create and share by tagging @HallmarkStores.

Why is Día de Muertos important?  

“The most important part of this holiday to me is the time I get to spend with my family honoring and remembering those who are no longer with us,” Alejandra said. “We spend time as a family setting up our altar, which includes preparing food, gathering memorabilia and making crafts to put on the ofrenda.”  

“These altars carry a lot of intention in the belongings, food and accessories you choose to display because they are a representation or reminder of the person you are trying to commemorate. Choosing to cook their favorite food and including symbols of the things they enjoyed or hobbies they had allows you to remember the person and celebrate the life they lived.”

Sofia shared, “I think that part of the beauty of celebrating Día de Muertos is because it can commemorate all types of life. The most special part of the holiday to me is being able to reflect on the lovely memories shared with my pets. It’s nice to not forget those wonderful memories that made you laugh, cry and be human during this special time. I’m the only one in my family who celebrates the holiday, but it’s still important to me because it helps to keep their legacy and impact alive.”

DIY Día de Muertos ofrenda frame  

This popsicle stick ofrenda frame is a great addition to any Día de Muertos altar. If little ones are involved, you can be on hot glue gun duty and let them go wild with stickers, doodles and painting.

Materials needed to make DIY popsicle stick ofrenda picture frame include jumbo popsicle sticks, acrylic paint, a paintbrush, a hot glue gun, a piece of cardboard, a copy of a photo of the loved one you're honoring, and decorative items like pompoms and stickers.

What you’ll need:

•  Jumbo popsicle sticks (8 per frame)
•  Acrylic paint
Skull sticker set (coming soon)
•  Pom poms
•  Piece of cardboard (a scrap should work just fine)
•  Photo of a loved one
•  Paintbrush
•  Hot glue gun
•  Optional: Markers

A woman's hands paint a set of popsicle sticks with acrylic paint in a shade of lavender.

Start by painting eight popsicle sticks with acrylic paint in any shade you’d like, or your loved one’s favorite color, if you know it! 

A woman's hands assemble a DIY popsicle stick ofrenda picture frame by gluing two sticks together for each side, then overlapping the popsicle sticks at the ends in a square and hot gluing them together.

To create the frame, use hot glue to attach two popsicle sticks to each other side by side. Repeat this step three more times to make the other three sides.  

Once they’ve all cooled, lay out two sides and overlap them with the remaining two. Secure with glue at each end and you have your frame!

A woman's hands hot glue a copy of a photo of the loved one she's honoring for Dia de Muertos onto a larger piece of cardboard with hot glue.

Next, glue your photo to the piece of cardboard.  

Pro tip: Use a photocopy of your image to avoid ruining the original. 

A woman's hands apply hot glue to the back of the popsicle stick frame in preparation of affixing the nearby photo mounted on cardboard to the back of the frame.

Using more glue, attach the cardboard to the back of the popsicle stick frame.

A woman's hands use a hot glue gun to secure yarn pompoms to a DIY ofrenda picture frame made of popsicle sticks.

Glue on pom poms or any attachments you’d like. Glitter, rhinestones, fringe—there are no rules here!

A woman's hands apply Dia de Muertos-themed skull stickers to a DIY popsicle stick ofrenda picture frame.

Add some Skull stickers (coming soon) and fun doodles.

Three finished popsicle stick photo frames made in honor of loved ones who have passed for Dia de Muertos sit on a bright purple surface.

And you’re all done! Feel free to try different colors, frame shapes and add-ons. The more stickers and doodles, the better. 

Pro tip: Add magnets to the back of your frames to save as keepsakes and hang on the fridge after the holiday. 

What are your favorite Día de Muertos family traditions or memories?  

“I didn’t start celebrating Día de Muertos until my friend Alejandra introduced me to it in 2019,” Sofia said. “I have a core memory from when we attended the Day of the Dead celebration by Mattie Rhodes, in 2022. It was beautiful to see our Latino community come together to celebrate and honor Día de Muertos in large numbers.”

“They had an art gallery of the ofrendas from some of the community members displayed, a large ofrenda for the children who passed in Uvalde, Texas, [as well as] local Latino vendors, live music and fun activities for everyone. They even had a competition for the best ofrenda in a low rider, which is also part of our culture. It was a core memory for me because I had not seen anything as magical as I did that night—nothing but love and warmth on that chilly night.”

For Alejandra, her favorite Día de Muertos memories are centered around her experiences at home with family.

Pan de muerto is a traditional sweet bread that you put at the altar usually as a common food that the visiting souls can enjoy,” Alejandra said. “It was often difficult finding pan de muerto in Kansas City, so my parents learned how to make homemade pan de muerto. It’s my favorite tradition because every year, our house is filled with the warmth and delicious smell of fresh, out-of-the-oven pan de muerto.”

“Family and loved ones join us in making batches and batches of bread to spend time together and they also get to take it home to put on their own altars. We fill our baking evenings leading up to the holiday with laughter and nostalgic memories of our loved ones while enjoying the warm bread with a cup of coffee or milk. It’s a family tradition that I try to make time for every year, and I hope to pass on to future generations.”

DIY Día de Muertos Shadow Box  

There’s no delicious pan de muerto included with this one sadly (Alejandra made us hungry), but it is a beautiful craft to make with family! We suggest letting older kids team up with younger ones this time—have little kids help paint or sculpt with Crayola Model Magic while the big kids work with the craft knife. 

Supplies needed to make a DIY shadowbox for Dia de Muertos include hot glue, acrylic paint in a variety of colors, a paint brush, school glue, a cardboard food box or cereal box, a ruler, a craft knife, Crayola Model Magic air-dry modeling clay, a cutting mat, a photo of a lost loved one, markers, a spare piece of cardboard cut into a semi-circle, pipe cleaners, scissors, tissue paper, stickers, and card stock.

What you’ll need: 

•  Card stock
•  Tissue paper
Crayola Model Magic
•  Skull sticker set (coming soon)
•  Hot glue gun
•  Ruler
•  Craft knife
•  Markers
•  Acrylic paint
•  Paintbrush
•  Cereal box (or another similarly shaped food box)
•  Cutting mat
•  Photo of a loved one
•  Scissors
•  Pipe cleaners
•  Extra piece of cardboard

A woman's hands cut flaps into a cardboard food box with a craft knife, to create an opening for a DIY shadow box for Dia de Muertos.

Start by painting the outside of your cereal or food box white for a solid base to work with. Once it’s dry, carefully open the box and lay it flat, with the white side facing down. 

Create your shadow box opening with a craft knife and ruler by making two horizontal cuts across, then one vertical cut down to create two flaps.  

If you’d like, you can round the corners of the flaps with your craft knife like we did here. (Don’t be worried about your deconstructed box. We’ll put it back together later—promise!) 

A woman's hands glue orange tissue paper fringe into the inside of a disassembled cardboard food box that she's transforming into a DIY shadow box for her ofrenda on Dia de Muertos.

To create a pretty backdrop for our photo, we made tissue paper fringe to layer on the back side. Here’s how:

Cut one piece of tissue paper to match the width of the back side of your shadow box.

Fold the piece of tissue paper in half widthwise. Then with the opening facing toward you, cut small, evenly sized slits toward the fold to create fringe, leaving about half an inch uncut to glue down. 

Create enough pieces of fringe to cover the entire back side of the shadow box (we had 7 total). Then, start gluing the fringe pieces onto the box. Dab some glue along the folded edge and press it onto the back of the unpainted inside of the box, starting at the bottom and working upward. As you add more strips, make sure the piece of fringe above is overlapping the one underneath.

Finally, cut two pieces of tissue paper that are the size of the side panels and glue them on each side of the interior of the box to give it a more finished look.

A woman paints glue onto the edges of a decorative orange tissue paper shape she's cut out to place on the front of her DIY shadowbox, which is lined in tissue paper fringe in the same color.

Put the shadow box back together by hot gluing the pre-existing seams together. 

Next, cut tissue paper pieces to cover each flap. Use a paint brush to spread a thin layer of glue over the inside-facing side of each flap and glue the tissue paper pieces on.

To make the decorative pieces on the top and bottom, layer two pieces of tissue paper and cut a fun shape like the one shown. Use a paintbrush dipped in glue to stick them onto the shadow box smoothly and evenly. 

A woman's hands apply red acrylic paint to a heart shape made out of Crayola Model Magic air-dry modeling clay.

Sentimental treasures

Next, we created a few different shapes using Model Magic. You can make these simple and fun, like the little hearts and skulls we made.  

You can also make shapes that have significance to the loved one you’re honoring, like a tiny version of their favorite pair of shoes or an icon related to their favorite sports team. 

Once you’ve got your shapes figured out and your Model Magic is dry, add some color with acrylic paint. 

A woman's hands fluff the petals of a flower she's made out of red tissue paper.

Tissue paper flowers

A major custom during Día de Muertos is decorating ofrendas with beautiful flowers, for which marigolds, or cempazuchitl flowers, are especially popular. 

Real flowers are always welcome, of course, but making your own can be fun, too! See step-by-step instructions here or here to craft some gorgeous tissue paper flowers.

A woman places tissue paper flowers in shades of yellow and red into a DIY shadowbox lined with orange tissue paper fringe.

Once you’ve made your tissue paper flowers, place them inside the shadow box and attach them with hot glue.

A woman uses hot glue to affix a black and white photo of a woman in a sombrero hat onto a cube-shaped riser she's made out of orange card stock.

Next, we created a mini riser out of cardstock to make the photo stand out in the shadowbox. 

To do this, cut a long rectangle the length of a piece of card stock. Fold it in half, bringing the two short ends together, then fold in half one more time.

Unfold the rectangle and then use the folds you made to create a box, taping the sides where they meet.  Finally, glue your photo to one side of the riser.

A woman's hands place a black and white photo of a woman in a sombrero hat into a DIY shadowbox; the shadowbox is filled with tissue paper flowers in shades of red and yellow, and is lined with orange tissue paper fringe.

Place your photo into the shadowbox frame and glue the riser to the back, on top of your fringe.

A woman's hands apply Dia de Muertos-themed skull and cross stickers to a DIY shadowbox filled with tissue paper flowers and a photo of a loved one who's passed.

Now that you’ve made all the pieces, it’s time to decorate! 

Cover your shadow box in stickers to give it a personal touch. We used these cute Skull stickers (coming soon), but you can also add some related to your loved one’s favorite hobbies or interests. 

A woman's hands decorate a DIY mini shadowbox made from cardboard and tissue paper by drawing decorative patterns and shapes on it in pink marker.

You can also add doodles and detailed designs around the stickers with markers. Simple pattern, borders or repeated shapes work great.

A woman's hands hot glue a red heart made from Crayola Model Magic to the top of a DIY shadowbox made for a Dia de Muertos celebration.

And don’t forget your Model Magic shapes! We attached a heart to the top with hot glue, but add any of the fun ones you made. 

A woman hangs a mini Keepsake Ornament in the shape of a sugar skull from a DIY photo shadowbox made out of cardboard, tissue paper, stickers and other craft materials.

Finally, make a little stand for your shadow box by cutting your extra piece of cardboard into a semicircle. Glue it to the bottom of your shadowbox so that it sticks out like a little doormat welcoming your loved one!

A finished DIY mini shadowbox made from a cardboard box and various craft supplies features a photo of a loved one, tissue paper flowers, skull and cross stickers, and a mini Dia de Muertos sugar skull ornament.

To top everything off, we added one more tissue paper flower and this cute Mini Sweet Sugar Skull Hallmark Keepsake ornament.


We hope these Day of the Dead crafts inspire you to get creative while celebrating the people who live on in your heart with love. 

Thanks to Alejandra for the perfect closing words: 

“One of the most important things to remember is that while death can be a reason for sadness, those who celebrate the holiday often view death as a part of life. Día de Muertos is a way to celebrate and commemorate those who have passed.”


Want more Day of the Dead ideas? Check these out: