How to Make Paper Flowers for Day of the Dead

October 29, 2015

Day of the Dead is coming up on Sunday and Monday. We set up our alter last weekend and are beginning to decorate it with candles, incense, and pictures of loved ones who have passed. Today I will place a little jar of salt on the alter to represent the earth and to cleanse the spirit. The final piece will be the colorful addition of large paper flowers.

How to Make Paper Flowers

In Mexico, enormous fresh marigolds in red, orange, and yellow are used to decorate the graves and alters but paper flowers are also popular and are often strung together to make elaborate garlands which are draped overhead and along the edges of the gravestones.

Paper flowers for Day of the Dead

I am not, not, not a crafter so believe me when I tell you they are very simple to make. All you need is one package of colorful tissue paper and some pipe cleaners. 15 sheets of tissue paper and 15 pipe cleaners should make about 15 flowers.

Paper Flowers Materials

Take one sheet of tissue paper and cut it in half, then cut that piece in half two more times until you have several sheets that are about 8-inches long x 4-inches wide. This doesn’t matter too much—the bigger the sheets, the larger the flowers. Stack 8 pieces of cut tissue paper together (you can use all the same color or multiple colors).

Getting Started

Starting on the short end make a 1/2-inch thick fold.

The First Fold

Flip the tissue paper over so the folded side is down and then take the folded piece up and fold it again so now the fold is on the top, like an accordion. I wonder how many times I can use the word fold in a sentence, hmmmm.

The Second Fold

Keep working your way up, folding back and forth until all the tissue paper is folded.

Accordian Fold

Bend the pipe cleaner around the middle of the stack and twist to secure. This will be your stem.

Stem Attached

Cut each edge, either in a triangular shape or rounded.

Cutting the sides side is cut

Then fan out the paper.

ready to unwrap

Now pull one layer of tissue paper at a time towards the middle, carefully peeling the pieces of paper apart to create a puffy flower.

Unpeeling the flower One side done Unwrapping the flowers

Continue with the remaining pieces of tissue paper to make as many flowers as you like. You can even make gigantic ones to hang from the ceiling using full sheets of tissue paper.

Finished flower

For those of you celebrating Día de los Muertos, I hope your hearts are full of celebration this weekend. Cherish these days; share family stories, eat sweet yeasty bread, and leave a flower or two for those who can no longer walk with us on this earth, but who are waiting to show us the glorious world on the other side.

Paper Flowers for Dia de los Muertos


One More Thing

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  • nicole October 29, 2015 at 12:57 pm

    thank you for sharing your dia de los muertos recipes and the paper flowers how to, louisa did an excellent job demo’ing! i’m gonna give the chocolate anise pan de muerto a try. i think it is really cool that you and your family celebrate the ritual of dia de los muertos. i think we are better off as humans if we maintain a connection to our loved ones who have died as it not only keeps their spirit alive, but by celebrating the dead, death becomes part of the fabric of being alive. fantastic ritual. “don’t know your past, don’t know your future” from “tomorrow people” ziggy marley and the melody makers

    • Kate Ramos
      Kate Ramos October 29, 2015 at 4:38 pm

      I couldn’t agree with you more Nicole. I hope you enjoy the pan de muerto and take a few moments this weekend to fondly remember those you have loved who are no longer with us. xo