Day of the Dead Party Ideas to Live It Up
Get acquainted with this beloved Mexican holiday -- and start planning your own celebration with our festive recipes and decoration ideas.
In Living Color
Day of the Dead celebrates those who have passed (and attempts to lure their spirits back with good times and good food). Zoe Maya Jones, a Mexican-American chef and culinary instructor, says this “marriage of whimsy and spookiness” makes the holiday her favorite.
Pan de Muerto
Martha’s rich brioche a tete recipe makes the perfect base for a traditional Pan de Muerto, which is formed to look like it's topped with bones.
Day of the Dead Cookies
Inspired by the sugar skulls that are emblematic of the holiday, our chocolate-cinnamon cookies are just dying for a colorfully customized face. Why not oblige with icing and your favorite candies? We used cinnamon hearts, licorice diamonds, sprinkles, and candy-coated sunflower seeds.
Floral Papel Picado
Papel picado, the Mexican folk art of paper-cutting, is as simple to make as it is cheerful to behold. Follow our how-to.
Chicken Tamales with Salsa Roja
Creature comforts like tamales make it tough to commit to the afterlife -- especially when they’re smothered in spicy salsa roja.
Rapper/actor LL Cool J gets sugar in his diamonds -- and Martha embraces her hip-hop side -- in this sugar skull-molding tutorial. These edible accents are a standby on every holiday table.
Mezcal Bloody Maria
Mezcal -- a rich, smoky relative of tequila -- joins Clamato, lemon, Worcestershire, horseradish, and fresh ginger in this intriguing take on the classic Bloody Mary. Make a big batch and let your guests help themselves.
The base of these cookie corpses is gingerbread -- as a nod to the pumpkin bread often served at traditional feasts, executive design director Kevin Sharkey used pumpkin gingerbread, but regular gingerbread works just as well. The icing pays homage to the holiday’s skulls and skeletons motif.
Churros with Mexican Chocolate Sauce
Our simplified version of the popular Dia de los Muertos dessert calls for store-bought puff pastry and baking instead of frying. Silky melted dark chocolate is amped up with ancho chili powder for the dip served alongside the churros.
Hibiscus Tea with Lime
Refreshing aguas frescas like this hibiscus one (also known as agua de jamaica) are plentiful at Day of the Dead celebrations. Ours calls for just three ingredients: dried hibiscus flowers, honey, and limes.
Spiced Pumpkin Seeds
Keep your energy up during Dia de los Muertos with this satisfying snack. Simply bake pumpkin seeds with cinnamon, cumin, cayenne, and honey.
Round out your Day of the Dead menu with a pitcher or two of the classic cinnamon-vanilla rice drink. Serve as is for the kids and spike with rum for the adults.
Slow-Cooker Chicken Mole
The best part about this Day of the Dead entree is that it's mostly hands-off. Chicken thighs are smothered in a sweet-and-spicy mole made with dark chocolate, ancho and chipotle chiles, almonds, raisins, cumin, and cinnamon, then braised in the slow cooker.