Day of the Dead for Kids

Celebrate El Día de los Muertos at Home with these Kid-Friendly Ideas

Day of the Dead (El Día de los Muertos in Spanish) is a holiday celebrated in Mexico and around the world.

You may think that it’s too macabre or dark to celebrate with preschoolers, but I assure you that there are tons of fun and cheerful ways to celebrate Day of the Dead at home together with your kids.

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What is Day of the Dead (El Día de los Muertos)?

Day of the Dead is a celebratory holiday to remember those who have passed.

It’s celebrated from October 31st – November 2nd.

Friends and family members gather to pray for and remember loved ones who have passed.

It’s not a sad holiday; according to Mexican tradition, death is a natural part of life. In fact, many people believe that their loved ones awaken and celebrate along with them.

It’s kind of like a big family reunion with those who have passed.

Many dress up in costumes and use candies, flowers, and figurines to decorate the graves of their loved ones and make them incredibly beautiful and welcoming.

All family members, including young children, often spend the night in the cemetery. They bring food and drinks, play music, and wait to be reunited with the souls of their loved ones.

To Americans, this might sound a little shocking and hard to explain to kids. In American culture, death is a topic we tend to shy away from, especially with children.

However, Day of the Dead is a way to teach children that death is a natural part of the life cycle, and is a time to love and remember those who have passed.

This article by National Geographic Kids simply explains Day of the Dead in an easy-to-read, kid-friendly way.

How to Celebrate Day of the Dead (El Día de los Muertos) with Your Kids at Home

Day of the Dead is often celebrated with a huge festival and parade, which can be seen in movies like Coco, which we’ll get back to in a minute.

You can recreate the festive feeling of El Día de los Muertos at home together with your kids and their friends.

Here are some ideas on how to celebrate Day of the Dead at home with your kids.

Day of the Dead Art Activities for Kids

Day of the Dead definitely has its own unique design aesthetic. You and your kids will love decorating the house (and yourselves!) for El Día de los Muertos with these colorful, decorative, and fun art projects.

Day of the Dead Makeup

No DIY El Día de los Muertos can start without the traditional makeup that resembles the popular figures of the holiday.

Pinterest and YouTube are great places to look for ideas and how-tos for doing gorgeous and unique Day of the Dead makeup.

Here is a great video tutorial showing you how to do beautiful sugar skull face painting for kids.

As a side note, it’s always a great idea to get the most natural products possible for your little ones’ skin, and always test it out on a patch before applying it to the whole face.

Here is a colorful face painting set full of hypoallergenic, non-toxic, fragrance-free, vegan face paints that would be great for Day of the Dead makeup. It includes all the colors and applicators you’ll need to create a gorgeous sugar skull face.

Day of the Dead Decorations

No Día de los Muertos celebration would be complete without a decorated house, both inside and outside.

Here are some cute and colorful Day of the Dead decorations that you and your kids can easily put around the house to make the holiday come alive.

Make Your Own Papel Picado (Mexican Perforated Paper)

Papel picado is a bright and colorful Mexican decoration, consisting of banners of bright paper with decorative cut-outs. It’s used for Day of the Dead, birthdays, and many other celebrations.

You and your kids can make your own papel picado! Watch this video to see how easy it is to do at home.

All you’ll need is some colorful tissue paper, scissors, string, and tape to decorate your home with your own papel picado.

Readymade Day of the Dead Decorations

If you’re like me and love the beauty of decorating without all the effort, here are some gorgeous readymade Day of the Dead decorations that will bring El Día de los Muertos to life with minimal mess and stress.

This Day of the Dead decorative resin pumpkin is handpainted with colorful sugar skulls and flowers.

Day of the Dead Papel Picado Banner

Day of the Dead Sugar Skull Hanging Decorations

Day of the Dead Outdoor Lawn Decorations

Make Your Own Altar

Many families make their own altars and place offerings, or ofrendas, on it to welcome the spirits of their loved ones back into their homes.

Traditionally, altars are decorated with sugar skull candies (calaveras), flowers, photos of loved ones, a sweet bread called pan de muerto (see recipe below), water, candles, incense, papel picado, and other meaningful objects.

It’s a wonderful opportunity for your kids to learn about relatives who have passed away and to pass on stories from previous generations to the next.

Here’s a video explaining how to make a beautiful altar for Day of the Dead at home.

Cooking for El Día de Los Muertos

While you’re sharing family stories with your kids, why not cook up some delicious food at the same time?

Here are some Day of the Dead recipes that you and your kids will love making, eating, and offering together.

Pan De Muerto Recipe

Pan de muerto, or bread of the dead, is a sweet bread traditionally placed on altars for Day of the Dead and enjoyed by families.

There are many variations of the pan de muerto recipe, and many people simply purchase it at a bakery, but your kids will love making this delicious bread at home with you.

You can find the recipe here from Spruce Eats, or check out the video recipe below.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Recipe

If you love spice, you’ll love Mexican hot chocolate. The addition of cinnamon and cayenne pepper make it nice and picante!

You can find an amazing homemade Mexican hot chocolate recipe here from Delish or watch the video below to learn how to make it at home.

El Día de los Muertos Sugar Skull Cookies

These sugar cookies shaped like sugar skulls are so cute and would be really fun to decorate with kids.

Here is a written recipe and video from Delish showing how to make sugar skull cookies at home. 

Close the Day with a Movie Night 

A great way to end your Day of the Dead family festivities is with a family movie night.

Grab some popcorn, your Mexican hot chocolate, and curl up under a warm blanket with these kid-friendly Day of the Dead-inspired movies.


Coco is a Disney Pixar animated movie centered around Day of the Dead.

The main character is a 12-year-old boy who magically opens up to the world of the dead, where he embarks on an adventurous journey to discover an ancient family mystery.

Watch the trailer below and then stream it on Disney+, rent/buy it on YouTube, or purchase on Amazon.

The Book of Life

In The Book of Life, an animated movie from Guillermo del Toro, two ghosts bet on which suitor beautiful Maria will ultimately choose.

Watch the trailer below, then you can rent or buy it on Amazon, rent or buy it on YouTube or stream it on Hulu.


There is still time to prepare for your Day of the Dead celebrations with your kids!

Use this family time to reconnect, involve your kids, and everyone in the family will love it.

At the end of the day, you will definitely have a more cheerful and colorful view on Day of the Dead.

Day of the Dead for Kids

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