Day Of The Dead is a favorite around here when it comes to fall holidays.
And, of all the ways to celebrate this November holiday, we like to do it with a California twist.
We’ve talked about how Day of the Dead is not merely Mexican Halloween but more a celebration of the fragility of life and a remembrance of friends and family.
It is celebrated across a few days, starting in late October, crossing through All Saints Day and All Souls Day, and ending on November 2nd.
And that there can be all sorts of different celebrations that can range from somber to festive with everything from face painting and sugar skeletons to cemetery visits, elaborate parades, and altars decorated with mementos.
A Holiday With Deep Traditions
Tradition holds that on Día De Los Muertos, deceased ancestors return to earth to visit their living relatives. It’s a holiday that dates back thousands of years, but it seems to have become more well-known outside of Mexico as of late with gorgeous altars to commemorate loved ones and a full-on feast. Head here to read more about the holiday’s history and here to learn about the traditional foods served.
Day Of The Dead In Southern California
Here in Southern California, Día de los Muertos is celebrated all over, from the enormous celebration at Hollywood Forever Cemetery to the endless altars at Santa Ana’s Noche de Altares.
But this year we wanted to throw our own Day Of The Dead party along with our fellow food friends, Kate of ¡HOLA! JALAPEÑO and Meg of This Mess Is Ours.
We went all out and turned Meg’s backyard into the ultimate Day Of The Dead party with a life-sized ofrenda or altar that had loads of decorations including sugar skulls, candles, floral and fruit decorated artwork, papel picado, a margarita bar, and a Mexican feast that would make any abuela proud.
For the occasion, we all gathered at Meg‘s house and cooked and created. Our Day Of The Dead party started with an altar (to commemorate Kate’s grandparents and her pup, Paco, who have passed on) that was so stunning — thanks to Meg’s vintage finds and Meredith’s floral skills — it could have been a permanent fixture in Meg‘s backyard.
We then cooked up a serious feast that started with Marigold Mezcal Margaritas and included some of our favorite seasonal Mexican dishes, like pozole and pan de muertos. The party lasted from the afternoon well into the evening and we can’t wait to recreate it ASAP. Read on for the recipes to cook, the crafts to make, and the items to shop to make your ultimate Day Of The Dead party!
Day Of The Dead Menu
Over the course of October, we will role out all the Day of The Dead recipes, but, we figured you want a preview so here you go! This is the full-on menu:
Marigold Mezcal Margarita | ¡Hola! JALAPEÑO
Rainbow Jicama Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing | ¡Hola! JALAPEÑO
Vegan Green Pozole | This Mess Is Ours
Creamy Chicken Enchiladas with Jamaica Mole | ¡Hola! JALAPEÑO
Mexican Red Rice with Roasted Salsa Roja | This Mess Is Ours
Pumpkin Spice Pan de Muerto | ¡Hola! JALAPEÑO
Spiced Mexican Chocolate Coconut Pie | Salt & Wind
But, hold up, because a few links does in no way do these Day Of The Dead recipes justice! Let’s take a recipe-by-recipe look at the whole menu because it’s a feast you’re going to want to get in on it:
Marigold Mezcal Margarita
So, this is one of those drinks that you’d never think to make unless you’re the Nueva Latina who is Kate. Made with a marigold simple syrup and smoky mezcal, it’s as if your Chamomile tea went to Happy Hour.
Rainbow Jicama Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing
Slaw doesn’t happen nearly enough in our lives and this recipe is going to help change that. Here Kate combines crunchy jicama, snap peas, radishes, carrots, and cabbage with a creamy poppy seed dressing and it’s magic.
Vegan Green Pozole
Easier than real deal pozole and a nice amount of spicy, Meg‘s vegan green pozole is something we’ll be making well past Day Of The Dead.
Creamy Chicken Enchiladas with Jamaica Mole
Yes, that’s hibiscus mole and it’s one of the best sauces we’ve had lately. We don’t know how Kate come up with this but we know we’ll be making it often.
Mexican Red Rice with Roasted Salsa Roja
If you’re making Mexican rice from a box, it’s time to stop what you’re doing and make Meg‘s recipe instead.
Pumpkin Spice Pan de Muerto
Kinda like the brioche of Mexico, Kate made pan de muerto totally seasonal by adding in some pumpkin spice.
Spiced Mexican Chocolate Coconut Pie
With a salty sweet graham cracker crust, a cinnamon-cayenne chocolate coconut pudding, rum whipped cream, and toasted coconut, this is the pie you should be making right now.
DIY Day Of The Dead Altar
And then there was the altar, which was easily one of the prettiest Day Of The Dead altars we’ve ever seen. We’d like to say we’re talented enough to pull that off but it was all thanks to Meredith Ambruso and Meg who found vintage pieces and then decorated them with flowers and tons of fruit (thanks to Melissa’s). Head over to Meg’s site to get all the intel on how to DIY floral and fruit Day of the Dead altar pieces.
Oh, and, if you’re in search of another festive Day Of the Dead DIY, check out these easy skull cascarones (confetti eggs) from Camille Styles!
Shop Our Day Of The Dead Party
We don’t know about you, but we could move into Meg‘s backyard. And, thanks to her amazing thrifting skills, there were some awesome vintage piece. Here are some of our favorite newer pieces from the Day Of The Dead party:
1220 Ceramic Cupcake Plates
White Enamelware Dinner Plates
Dansk Kobenstyle 2-quart Saucepan
Dansk White Buffet Server
Le Creuset Serving Platter
Mosser Chelsea Glass Cake Stand
Luchador Bottle Openers
Day Of The Dead Corkscrew
Mini Ceramic Day Of The Dead Skulls
Yellow Enamel Serving Spoon
More Mexico On Salt & Wind Travel
- Mexican Inspired Cocktails Beyond the Margarita
- What To Eat in Baja California
- Where To Celebrate Day Of The Dead In Mexico
Photos by Salt & Wind and This Mess Is Ours Florals by Meredith Ambruso; Produce provided by Melissa’s Produce