How To Make Paper Marigolds At Home

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When we think of the Day of the Dead celebrations we most commonly think of the grinning skulls.

But, flowers - and more specifically marigolds - are a very important part of the festivities too. Helping your kids to make these pretty flowers is an excellent way to combine crafting with exploring more about this festival.

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What is Día de los Muertos?

Día de Muertos AKA Día de los Muertos is a Mexican holiday which translates to 'day of the dead' and is celebrated on 1st and 2nd November. The holiday is celebrated across Mexico as well as elsewhere by people of Mexican heritage. Despite the name conjuring up images of skeletons, this is actually both a celebration of live and a commemoration of death, with the living and the dead celebrating together. Families make brightly coloured altars to those who have passed and decorate them with photos of the departed and 'ofrendas' – offerings including treasured possessions and their favourite food and drinks. These shrines are also covered in bright yellow marigold flowers too, and this floral touch has become an important symbol of the holiday.

Day of the Dead Skulls

Why Are Marigolds Important to the Celebration?

During the Día de Muertos celebrations, it is believed that the spirits of the dead come back to visit the living and the marigolds are what guide the dead back to their altars. The bright colours and strong scents are believed to encourage the dead to visit and celebrate the festival with the living. Similarly, the sight and smell of favourite food and drinks are thought to help ensure a visit. Known as 'flor de muerto' (Flower of Dead), Mexican marigolds also represent the beauty of life – and its fragility.

Make your own marigolds
Image: © Tinker Lab

What to do with your paper marigolds

Once you've got your tissue paper marigolds made you can decide how to display them. If you don't celebrate Día de Muertos you can still choose to display your flowers in the house. They'll make a colourful bright addition to a corner of any room.

Make your own paper marigolds

You will need:

Sheets of yellow tissue paper

Scissors

Green pipe cleaners

Method

1: Fold your paper in half and cut it into two sheets. Fold each piece in half again and cut in half - keep repeating this until you are left with eight pieces of tissue paper all the same size.

2: You will need four sheets of tissue paper for each flower so place your paper into stacks of four. Fold the paper into an accordion shape, by making a small pleat, then turning it over and making another pleat of equal size on the other side. Continue until the paper has been folded up into one strip.

3: Carefully cut a curve or a point out of one end of the top of your strip to create the petal shape.

Paper Marigold Instruction
Image: © Tinker Lab

4: Wrap a pipe cleaner around the centre of the strip to create the stem. Secure it by wrapping it tightly and twisting the end around itself. It doesn't need to be too neat as once your fluff out your petals it will be hidden.

5: Finally, you need to fan out your petals to make your DIY paper flower. Carefully separate the top layer of your paper from the other layers and fluff it out to create the top petals. Repeat this step with each layer of paper, and when finished give the paper flowers a final fluff so there are no bare spots.

6: Repeat to make more marigold paper flowers.  

Variations

You can experiment with the size of your DIY paper flowers by using bigger or smaller pieces of tissue paper or by increasing the number of layers you use. Just remember to keep each layer the same size.

Why not try using the same step by step instructions but instead of making tissue paper marigolds you could use crepe paper for a sturdier effect.

While the authentic Day of the Dead marigolds are bright yellow you can use any coloured tissue for this craft to create colourful bouquets.

Mexican Marigolds
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