> Bless Their Hearts Mom: Celebrate Day of the Dead with Oriental Trading!
Thursday, October 12, 2017

Celebrate Day of the Dead with Oriental Trading!

Disclosure / Disclaimer: I received these products free of charge,from Oriental Trading, for review purposes on this blog. No other compensation, monetary or in kind, has been received or implied for this post. Nor was I told how to post about them, all opinions are my own.

When you have a group of kids who are not only very smart, but crafty, and yet adore all things holiday, sometimes holiday parties can be BORING for them.

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So when our home school coop gets together for our holiday one day unit study coop days, like for Halloween, we like to try to find things they can LEARN about, and that we can test the kid's knowledge on, cause you know, we're sneaky mom-teachers like that!

So this year we knew we needed something different....

Now Miss Grace has been totally taken with Dia de los Muertos, since we did our virtual field trip of the Mexico Museum last year, and they had a great lecture on the holiday. Having lived in Southern California, there were aspects that we have always had included in our Halloween holiday, but after the lecture, she understood them a great deal more. So we thought, why not be the teachers this year, instead? We could be the host of our own Dia de los Muertos party?  With the help of Oriental Trading, our "Day of the Dead" Party came to life very quickly!

You can's have a party without decorations!

For our photo backdrop, we picked out the Cardboard Day of the Dead Border. It has a top piece that is 3 foot across, and the sides come down 6 feet as well. That gives you plenty of space in between for 2-3 people to stand for photos! The kids added their own extras, by adding in Day of the Dead prints they had colored before the party and cut out too!  The Colorful Skeleton Garland was great for adding a big punch of festive color to our crafting and eating table, and offered some quick anatomy question and answers too (care to sing the bone song with us? LOL) At 9 feet across it is much longer than it sounds! When you walked in and saw that area, you knew it was time for a PARTY, it was so colorful and bright! 

But the biggest attraction was the altar!

We had the kids work together at putting together their own altar, with items for the party, while we taught them about the meaning of the altars, included items, and the history behind them and the holiday.

We used a door backdrop we already had. but you can get a matching Day of the Dead one from Oriental Trading. We also used the cupcake tower that I shared with you in our Back to School party post, as the top 2 tiers for the altar! By reversing the pieces, you get a blacks tied holder, perfect for using as the base!

As you can see the kids did a pretty good job!

I didn't realize how much Miss Grace had pulled from our house until I looked at the finished altar-no wonder we had such a big box to carry, LOL. Also our Virgin Mary candle wasn't on the top tier due to the weight, but she had a representative there, along with some small items (which apparently had cookies mysteriously put upon them when I went to take pictures-sigh kids).The middle tier included items for the living, including the cupcakes the kids made, some Sugar Skull cookies and caramel corn, cause you know, it's October, we have to pretend like it's fall, even when the weather is 87 degrees outside, LOL. The bottom tier has plenty of skulls, bones, bridges and tombstones, as well as items for the deceased to wear.

With these kids, it's all about the WEARING- they like to get use out of their crafts! So we knew we needed some fun activities to get them warmed up, while they snacked after that lesson and building time! So we gave them 2 easy projects- the first was the Happy Halloween Pony Bead Bracelet Kit, to incorporate the holiday they already knew, and to give some bright colors to wear! It's a cute kit and can be finished within 5 minutes!  The Cameo Skeleton Crew Ornament Craft Kit took them all of about 1 minute to complete, as they are all old hands at foam kits, but it fit our theme, and we took pix later and printed them out, so the kids could slide a picture in, and have a take home keepsake. The sets are also on 80% clearance right now, so they are a steal, appropriately enough,as they come off the pirate party idea page!

Oriental Trading had a GREAT idea for Day of the Dead Pumpkin decor on their website- decopauged napkin pumpkins! Which is something none of the kids had done before (score!), so we knew we had a great projects for them! We used the Day of the Dead beverage napkins from the post, as well as the larger Fiesta Luncheon napkins, as they had an actual round design that seemed perfect for the pumpkins! 
The steps are SO easy: 1. Cut napkins into long strips. 2. Put mod podge onto the pumpkin and smooth out the napkin strip. 3. Put another strip next to the strip you mod podged down. 4. Repeat, going around the pumpkin. 5. Once you have all your strips on the pumpkin, put a layer of mod podge over all the napkins. 6. Let dry.  As you can see some of the kids got crafty and put the larger design over the pumpkin, cut out a hole, and then sliced out what wasn't needed. The pumpkins were ADORABLE, and everyone decided it was much more fun than painting them!  Note: There is a matching tablecloth and tableware set for the napkins too, but we already had plates and cups donated.

I took an another idea from the website, but from their costume page-namely their Day of the Dead Girls Romper, and used the DIY Wooden Sugar Skull Heads to paint skulls on black t-shirts for all the kids. By tracing the outline on the skirts, I not only had consistent sizing, but saved a huge amount of time we would have had to wait for the skulls to dry, before they could be painted on. Plus,the kids could paint the wooden skulls later for decoration, as we used them as door prizesI I used a mix of craft paint, fabric medium, and glow in the dark glitter, for some extra pop, that will really make the shirts stand out at night. it was easier for the kids to concentrate on the face designs, and where they wanted to add color (or in Miss Grace's design, delete some color, by taking out some teeth, LOL), by not having to paint the skulls themselves. It was uber easy for the kids to add color by using the amazingly BRIGHT Suncatcher Paint Pens. I'm always leery about ordering these type of pens online, but in this case, they were way beyond expectation! You get 3 of each of the 8 colors, and you just unscrew the cap, pop off the plug at the end, and then start painting! The kids declared them the best fabric markers ever, and their new favorites.While they aren't fabric markers per se, their bright colors were what we were looking for, and to be honest, with all the paint on them, these shirts will be hand washed only, and after a quick spray with some setter that I had (after they dried), we're not worried about any of the paint running (they WILL run while wet, so keep your items still until they dry),We did have board under the shirts though to be safe, and protect the floors, as it was easier to let them all spread out in an open space to work. The kids really had FUN with this project, and it was a great take home item.

Not only did we use the Suncatcher Pens on the t-shirts, we used them on some DIY Half Masks. The kids took inspiration from the Day of the Dead Half Mask with Flower and the Mask I had made up with some of the Fiesta Flower Hair Clips, to come up with their own ideas for their masks.

As you can see, some opted for full color, others for a more simple approach.

A couple decided they were going to use their clip in flowers for crowns instead, to wear with their T-shirts for their next Halloween activity. But with different colors for each to pick from, everybody went home with their favorite color!

The fun Fiesta Paper Party Straws were a party essential for us, from now on, as they allowed us to write each kid's name on the flag, so we knew whose drink was whose. You know how that goes at a party, everybody puts their drink down, all in the same looking cups, and nobody knows whose is whose after an hour. With the straws, the kid knew, and had fun keeping track of them! The Frosted Day of the Dead Lollipops were part of the altar, but everyone got to take one home too!

The kids had a lot of fun trying on the Day of the Dead Groom's Hat (which like the flowers, has a clip on the underside for easy clipping to your hair) and Women's Day of the Dead Gloves (which unfortunately are no longer available!), and making up stories, but were too quick for photos!

Course their punch of creativity might have had something to do with a SUGAR rush!

I used my Day of the Dead skull cookie cutters and made up shortbread cookies, both for decoration/eating (which I frosted with the different designs to let them see what they could look like), and for the kids to decorate. They might have had as much fun with the cookies, as the t-shirts, as there were plenty of creative stories going around the table, about WHY their skulls were decorated in the different fashions!

Our kids are pretty good with frosting tubes, but you could use icing markers instead, and just pain on plain sugar cookies.

We wanted the kids to have a Dia de los Muertos jewelry item that was more than just some beads. So we picked out the Day of the Dead Charms, which come in 3 bright colors- orange, green, pink and turquoise. And then added some Pplymer Heart Beads, which come in shades of pink and blue, with bright fuschia, in Mexican tile style florals, that match the charms perfectly. But we needed more beads, so we added in the matching Blue and Green Flower Polymer Beads , which are very similar in design, but being round, added a different dimension. By adding in a third bead, the Polymer Multi-Colored Cylinder Beads, we had more color, and design variation. 

The kids were then given the choice of making a bracelet and small beaded necklace, using the beads and nylon elastic cord, or one longer necklace. Most went with both, but some only wanted necklaces. They also had pony beads and crystals they could add, but most went with just the polymer beads and charms. I think as most of the kids are getting into the tween/teen age, they are looking to make more items they can keep on wearing. The adults declared the charms adorable and made a couple of bracelets too, so apparently they are ageless!

We had one more jewelry item that the kids could have used in their necklaces, The Day of the Dead Skull Earring kit.

But they all opted for the cuter charms, and the boys declared these too 'girly', so the sets ended up becoming a take home kit for the older girls, as a) we were running out of time and b) it requires jewelry pliers, which I had forgotten to bring with me!

But as you can see, it IS a simple kit too. It took us about 4 minutes to put together, once I had needle nose plies and a wire cutter.

All in all, the kids had a GREAT time at the party, really enjoyed all the crafts, and actually spent a good amount of time learning about a holiday, which is becoming very popular in the US. But most importantly, they learned the actual history behind it, its religious significance, and how it relates to their faiths, and how it HAS spread and became a cultural tradition, outside of Mexico as well. 

I hope our party has given you some ideas! If you need more, be sure to check out our Recipe Weekend post, after this one, and head on over to Oriental Trading and check out all their fun Day of the Dead and Halloween party ideas on their new Fun365 idea channel!

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