Modernized Day of the Dead Ofrenda

Day of the Dead OfrendaHave you ever heard of Day of the Dead Ofrendas? If you’ve seen the movie Coco, you probably get the gist. Ofrenda means ‘offering’ in Spanish and is a display set up to remember and honor your ancestors. The ofrenda consists of several components including photos of past loved ones, candles, fruits and sweets, flowers, papel picado, and more. It serves as a chance to welcome those ancestors who have passed back into your home and heart. Not to mention it creates the most beautiful display overflowing with flowers and foliage! We’re creating a modern-day take on the Ofrenda with foraged greenery, one that you can easily recreate and keep up all month long! This is my ideal kind of holiday decor, not to mention the sentimentality of it is so special!

Day of the Dead OfrendaRecently, Paul and I completed our 23andMe DNA tests, something I’ve been wanting to do for ages, and we are now anxiously awaiting our reports. With the Halloween season upon us, what better way to celebrate and learn more about my family history than with my very own ofrenda! This display is the perfect way to decorate for the season, but also a wonderful chance to learn more about yourself and your heritage. Win win!

See how easy the 23andMe service process is, discover more about your ancestry and get inspired to create your own Ofrenda

Day of the Dead OfrendaFor those of you unfamiliar, 23andMe is a personal genetic service that helps you understand your DNA. (BTW, 23 refers to the 23 pairs of chromosomes in human DNA, so it’s a very appropriate name). You can discover more about your ancestry, which world regions your ancestors come from, and even opt-in to connect with people who share similar DNA with you.

Day of the Dead Ofrenda

Day of the Dead Ofrenda

Day of the Dead Ofrenda

I come from a long long line of family history lovers and have become quite familiar with their stories and have tried my best to piece together who I am based on this information. I always thought that I would be 6 feet tall just like my Great Grandmother, Marilla Zatelle (waaaa! I’m 5’5”) on my mother’s side or as fearless as my Grandmother Helene on my dad’s side, who was in the navy as a nurse, but I’m a self-diagnosed wuss. For sure I’m as much of a flower lover as my great-great-grandfather Harvey Sessions. This I know!

Day of the Dead Ofrenda

I’m so anxious to learn even more about my ancestry and how it may influence who I am or increase my knowledge about my health and demeanor as well as my children’s. Jasper does, in fact, have half of his DNA and I can’t wait to teach him more.

Day of the Dead Ofrenda

Day of the Dead Ofrenda

Taking the 23andMe test is a breeze. They make it very simple to complete. You start by ordering your kit online, which you’ll receive in the mail shortly thereafter. Once your kit arrives, register your kit online so you can keep track of the process and know when to expect your results. Spit in the tube, package it up, and send the kit back using the prepaid label. In a few short weeks, you’ll receive your reports in your personal online 23andMe account! It’s pretty crazy to think how much you can learn just from spit!

Once I receive my reports back from 23andMe, I’m going to share them with you, so stay tuned!

Day of the Dead Ofrenda

Halloween Ofrenda Display Tutorial

Since we decided to take a modern take on the Ofrenda, we did not include all of the traditional elements in our display, however, we did include the following elements:

  • Photos of your ancestors and loved ones who’ve passed away. Place them in an eclectic mix of wood and gold frames. We printed ours at our local printer in black and white posters so that they were cheaper and glued them to foam core. Others we put in frames. 
  • Fall Foliage. Marigolds are traditional but can get expensive if they’re not locally sourced. We opted to forage natural foliage from our surroundings and love they elevated look it gives!
  • Candles. The candles signify light guiding the spirits back to your home.
  • Fresh fruits, bread, and other yummy food. It’s traditional to provide the spirits with plenty of food, preferably their favorite courses! We even used real Day of the Dead bread, “pan de muerto” that a friend had made for us
  • Skulls. My friend Nadia, who lived in Mexico City for a few years, let us borrow some of her ceramic skulls that she collected when she lived there. In Mexico, skulls are not a symbol of passing onto the next life. They aren’t seen as a scary thing as we view them in America. I like it! They paint them in beautiful patterns and colors.

Feel free to customize the display to your liking! You can also include mementos and items that were special to your ancestors. It makes a beautiful display for fall!

Day of the Dead Ofrenda

Day of the Dead Ofrenda

Day of the Dead Ofrenda

Day of the Dead Ofrenda

  1. Picture Frame
  2. Stool
  3. Pom Pom Pillow
  4. Wallpaper from Sandberg
  5. Gold Picture Frame
  6. Gold Chair
  7. Lantern
  8. Candles
  9. Wood Picture Frame
  10. Plant Stand
  11. Coffee Table
  12. (not pictured) Floor rug 

This post was sponsored by 23andMe. All opinions are my own and I’m a huge fan of the product! Thank you for supporting the brands that keep Lars thriving!

Photos by Jane Merritt and florals by La Fete Floral


  1. Recently found this and I love it! You called it modern ofrenda, but really, your set up is much closer to an authentic way for people celebrating Day of the Dead. People who are not Latinx often think it’s just sugar skulls and somehow related to Halloween. Thanks for showing folks a way to celebrate their loved ones during this special holiday but being mindful about not appropriating Mexican culture or using racist stereotypes.


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