The Fiesta Celebration

Day of the Dead -11yr- Taquitos & Guacamole




Melissa in Eureka, CA


October 2004



Day of the Dead "Dia de los Muertos" Fiesta  For my daughter's 11th birthday we had Mexican Day of the Dead (aka Dia de los Muertos) party.  We invited 11 girls for a slumber party.

The invitations were black construction paper folded in half.  We took crepe paper streamers and folded them in half and then snipped them into fringe, and glued two overlapping across the top of the front of the card and also across the bottom of the card.  This gave it a pinata look (I got the idea from Martha Stewart Kids issue Sept. or Oct. 04). In the strip of black left in the middle, we used colorful letter stickers to spell out Fiesta and also stuck a sticker I made off the internet of the famous Day of the Dead image "la Catrina" which is a skeleton lady with a big smile in a beautiful hat.  Inside we wrote the party details on a glued down die cut chili pepper, and also a couple skeleton stickers.  The envelopes were brightly colored and decorated with a dancing skeleton stamp I found at WalMart.  We stamped him in various poses so it looked like he was cartwheeling across the bottom of the envelope.  Inside we also added skull confetti and green and purple sprinkles available from Michaels.

To decorate the house, I bought special day of the dead papel picado off ebay.  These are special cut tissue paper banners from Mexico.  We hung those diagonally across the dining room.  On the dining room table I put a black tablecloth.  I used skull candy cups scattered across the table filled the yellow silk flowers to represent the marigolds which are the "official" flower of the day of the dead.  I also put candles in mason canning jars with the ring, but not the lid. I used a variety of brightly colored paper plates and napkins to match the papel picado.  These items really popped on the black tablecloth! I bought skeleton lights at Kmart ($4.99) and draped those across the fireplace mantle, and chili pepper lights I bought at the thrift store for $1.99 across the entry to the dining room. 

We set up an "ofenda" which is a day of the dead altar.  On it we had pictures of the pets we have had that are gone now, apples, some candy, and some "calacas" a friend brought from Mexico.  Calacas are handmade skeleton figures popular in Mexico for Day of the Dead celebrations.  I also had more yellow flowers.  I had an accordian style lantern that was black with a skull on it hanging up in the dining room too. When the girls arrived, we had mariachi music playing in the background, and we gave each girl a child's sombrero. (I bought a lot of 23 on ebay, have several left over obviously!)

I had 4"x4" squares of brightly colored tissue paper available for the girls to make flowers to decorate their sombreros with. Fold the squares accordian style, then snip a notch on either side right in the middle.  Wrap a green pipe cleaner across the notch, then peel the layers up and fluff into a flower.  Attach to the hat as you see fit. We also gave each girl a maraca ordered from Oriental Trading Co. and a candy bracelet with a candy bone charm from Target. Then we took pictures!  

We served dinner which was taquitos from Costco, guacamole, sour cream and salsa, plus tortilla chips and beany cheesy dip - 2 cans chili beans, a block of cream cheese and about 1/3 block of Velveeta, cook in saucepan until melted and mixed, then put into crock pot to keep warm and serve.  I also assembled a skeleton out of vegetables.  Go to FamilyFun.com to see an example.  The head was a hollowed out cabbage, which I filled with ranch dip, and the spine was alternating yellow and green zucchini, ribs, arms and legs were carrot and celery sticks, hands and feet were cauliflower and broccoli and finger and toes were baby carrots. Hip and shoulders were bell pepper strips. Joints were olives, mushrooms and the heart was a radish.  I kept him replenished as the girls "took" body parts to eat!

After gifts, we sat back at the table to decorate sugar skulls - another day of the dead tradition.  I bought the sugar skulls ready made from mexicansugarskull.com. They came very quickly.  They sell molds if you want to make your own too, but we live in a very humid climate so I opted to get ready made.  I had assorted colors of royal frosting ready for the girls to use as they piped dots and stars and embellishments on their skulls.  I had posted pictures of sugar skulls around the room to give them inspiration.

While the girls were being creative, I put out cardboard coffins which a friend had, and I think are available through Oriental Trading Co, filled with the new dark chocolate kisses (pretty purple foil, matched our decorations!) and another one with bone candy (made by and taste like Sweet Tarts) and a third dish with black and white M&M's. Also in these coffins were gumby-like bendy skeletons from Oriental Trading Co.  The girls got to munch this candy while decorating the skulls.  After we finished this activity, we had our cupcakes. 

Chocolate cake mix, chocolate frosting, but I sunk Milano cookies to look like tombstones into the cupcakes and piped RIP on the cookies in black icing.  I sprinkled chocolate cookie crumbs on to look like dirt and set mini marshmellows which I had piped tiny faces on with black icing to look like skulls laying next to the headstones.  I also bought Schwan's individual ice cream confetti cups. (The confetti candy on the top of these ice cream cups matched the bright colors I had around the house) We played Mexican Musical chairs with mariachi music, and instead of eliminating a girl, we eliminated a chair, until at the end all the girls sat on one chair.  Lots of fun!

The girls were given free time to paint each others nails and do slumber party "stuff!" For breakfast we had Mexican hot cocoa and pan de muerto (dead bread). You can find various versions of this recipe on the internet, and I used one with orange and no anise to appeal to the taste buds of 11 year olds.  It's basically a rich egg bread with coarse sugar spinkles on top shaped in skulls or like a boy or girl. The goody bags we gave away the next day as the girls left.  Using craft bags from Michaels with jute handles, we made crepe paper fringe again, but full size, not folded in half like on the invites. 

Two overlapping rows on the top, and 2 on the bottom, just like the invites.  In the strip in the middle, we pasted a die cut skull. Inside each bag was a small coffin (Oriental Trading Co., but we spray painted them black to eliminate the Halloween illustrations on them) filled with candy: tiny bags of hot tamales, 2 different chocolate skulls from the grocery bulk candy aisle, a Mexican peanut butter candy, a strip of candy dots (those bright colors again!) Also in each bag were the skull cups which had a few of the purple kisses, and a bendy skeleton clutching a miniture tube of the mini M&M's.

Every bag also had a box of the bone candy and my daughter and I made bones out of Tootsie Pop suckers.  Take 2 tootsie pops and tape them together so the sticks are touching the opposite sucker.  Wrap with white crepe paper.  Then take 2 of the and tape them together in a classic dog bone shape and cover with a little more crepe paper.  Got this idea from Better Homes and Gardens internet site I think. 

My inlaws went overboard and bought hanging wooden skeleton figures from Michaels and painted them whitewashed and drew faces and outlined bones on them and sent them for the goody bags.  But the best goody bag item was an envelope that was decorated with Fiesta/Mexican stickers (cactus, chilis, sombreros etc.) Inside was a pinch of foil confetti and an Italian charm of a skull that I got on ebay for .99 cents each!  All these girls have those bracelets except one, so I gave her 2 skull pencils. This was such a fun and original party to throw.  We have a late Ocotber birthday, and Dia de los Muertos is Nov. 1 and 2.  If your birthday is close to that time, we recommend scouting out Halloween sales for the skeleton stuff, and ebay is wonderful, as is Oriental Trading Co.!

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