My Dia de los Muertos Ofrenda :: An Invitation for Souls


Fall is here and with it one of my favorite holidays, Dia de Los Muertos. This holiday is filled with color, culture, music, and flavor!

A day to remember the dead by celebrating life.

Building an ofrenda is the beginning of this tradition, and I will show you what you need.

If you’re new to this holiday, you’re at the right place! You can learn about the history and the meaning of this holiday from one of our contributors or even get some inspiration for a Dia de Los Muertos craft.

My Dia de los Muertos Ofrenda :: An Invitation for SoulsArguably one of the most important parts of this celebration is the ofrenda. An ofrenda is an altar/offering that one can share with their loved ones who have passed. Although there are many different types of ofrendas with regional variance, there are a few core elements that are essential.

Elements of the Ofrenda

Papel Picado

Papel Picado is a garland made of thin colorful tissue paper cut into elaborate shapes. It represents the air–and dances in the wind when the spirits of your loved ones are near.

Cempasúchil or Marigolds

This flower is believed to attract the spirits of the dead. The flowers are placed at the altar and leading up to it to guide the spirits.

Pan de Muertos

This bread is typically shaped with a cross which is meant to signify bones. This bread serves as a way to feed the spirits after their long journey.


Water is placed at the altar to symbolize the purity of the souls as well as the source of life itself. Many offer water so the spirits can quench their thirst and prepare for their journey back to the land of the dead.


Candles symbolize the light of life, hope, and faith.


This tree resin is burned at the altar for a couple of reasons. Many believe it helps prayers reach the gods while others believe it can help clear the altar of evil spirits and negative energy so the souls of your loved ones can visit.


Salt is placed at the altar to help purify and cleanse.

El Izcuintle

This dog guides spirits from the land of the dead to that of the living.

Photographs and Personal Effects

This is who this ofrenda is dedicated to. An invitation to their spirits.

Sugar Skulls

To symbolize both death and the sweetness of life.

There are many more items that can be added to the ofrenda–all with deep and beautiful meanings.

» » » » » » »  RECOMMENDED RESOURCE: Ultimate Guide to Fall in Albuquerque  « « « « « « «

Originally published October 2022.

The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of ABQ Mom, its executive team, other contributors to the site, its sponsors or partners, or any organizations the aforementioned might be affiliated with.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here