I gathered the ideas, found the recipes and chose the guests. Then, time got away from me and it all fell through. Maybe you can take over from here?
I was first introduced to the Mexican holiday Day of the Dead while working at Vosges Haut-Chocolat where owner Katrina Markoff always pays homage with her own chocolate version of calverita or candy skulls. On November 1st and 2nd, Mexicans celebrate the lives of their ancestors and deceased loved ones. The holiday is not a mournful gathering but a lively and colorful celebration. I’m drawn to the positive energy and accepting view of death.
This year, I had a grand scheme to host a Day of the Dead party on Halloween weekend. The plan was to forgo traditional costume celebrations in place of a vibrant gathering in honor of all our lost loved ones. Unfortunately, I tend to make more plans in life than I have time to execute. So, I have reluctantly come to terms with the fact that it is too late for me to follow through. But, I come to you with my plans incase YOU have less work, less toddler or less obligation in your life. If that is the case and you have a taste for spontaneity, I invite you to host a Day of the Dead party this coming weekend! Here is how:
Set up an ofrenda, or altar, in your home to honor ancestors and deceased loved ones. Invite friends to a last minute Day of the Dead party. Invite them to bring photos of deceased loved ones or small items that remind them of the person to set on the altar. Remind guests that this is a lively celebration of life. Prepare a few traditional Day of the Dead recipes, supplement with some purchased foods if needed and serve traditional Mexican cocktails.
Set up an ofrenda in your home with colorful and playful skulls, paper cut outs, white candles, flowers (marigolds are popular) and sweets. Tools to help you make your ofrenda:
Day of the Dead photos to give you ideas.
How to make paper flowers for the alter.
Patterns to make your own paper cut-outs or papel picado here.
If you can’t find marigolds, substitute with mums which are plentiful this time of year.
Find an ethnic market to buy candles or just use white tea candles.
Buy skulls from a drug store or Halloween store and paint them. Ideas here. If you run out of time, have guests paint them at the party.
THE FOOD & DRINKS:
My plan was to buy tamales from a local, Mexican store along with various sauces to save time.
Make guacamole to serve with chips.
Serve Calabaza en Tacha or candied pumpkin. Pretty easy, traditional and seasonally appropriate!
You must have Pan de Muerto, the traditional Day of the Dead bread to place on your ofrenda.
Have a pitcher of traditional margaritas on hand with extra tequila for celebratory shots.
A selection of Mexican beers.
Keep the lights low and fill the house with candles. Play lively Mexican music, after all it is a celebration!
A guide to finding Day of the Dead music here. Use traditional Mexican blankets or tapestries as table coverings.
Order these new caramel filled chocolate Day of the Dead skulls from Vosges Haut-Chocolat. One of them is dosed with tequila spiked caramel, another spiced with chillies and the third overflowing with Dulce de Leche. They are offering a deal this week of 5 boxes for $59.
So, who is up for it? Anyone ready to pull this together? Let me know if you do and please send me photos. I will be there in spirit along with all of your ancestors.