Our family’s Dia de Muertos party and outdoor movie night
Earlier this month we had a triple birthday party themed around the Disney movie, Coco, and the Mexican tradition of Dia de Muertos on which the movie is based. This October, our oldest son turned 5, our youngest son turned 1, and I turned 30. Goodness gracious, still can’t believe I’m 30. 😲 Since it was milestone birthdays for all of us, I knew I wanted to do something a little different this year.
We watched the Coco movie outdoors, set up an ofrenda, played on the swing set, and feasted on the best tacos and churros I’ve ever eaten. I hope you enjoy scrolling through the photos below that my friend, Alexis, captured.
I’ve always loved Halloween. Not the super gory/scary kind of Halloween, but more of the harvest, fall, pumpkins, fun costume type stuff that goes along with Halloween. I have always heard of the Dia de Muertos (or “Day of the Dead”) tradition but admittingly, didn’t know much about it.
We watched this movie for the first time a few months ago when we got Disney Plus and I fell. in. love. The colors, the music, the celebrations! It’s a fantastic movie and does a great job of introducing lay people, like me, to this wonderful Mexican tradition.
In essence, Dia de Muertos is a Mexican tradition celebrated October 31 – November 2 where people honor the lives of their deceased family members. Different areas celebrate in different ways but overall, the tone is very celebratory and festive.
The familial aspect of honoring one’s ancestors is very poignant and worthy to me. I love that the Mexican people have an entire holiday dedicated to it and I especially love that it’s not a depressing holiday. At least, it doesn’t appear that way to me from the outside looking in. It would makes sense that a holiday honoring the dead would be very solemn and lifeless but from what I’ve read and what’s depicted in Coco, it seems very colorful, vibrant, and festive. And I very much identify with that idea of celebrating life rather than mourning death.
I was a little hesitant to throw a party with a “theme” based around a holiday that was not native to me. I wanted to be conscious of showing the holiday and the Mexican culture the respect they deserve. I did some research and read up on the holiday traditions and tried to honor them in their true nature and not in a kitschy, commercialized, or stereotypical way. I’m sure it wasn’t perfect, but I made a conscious effort to show respect while celebrating.
Another aspect of etiquette that the party brought about was being a polite host. A few days before the party, I had a “conversation” with my 5-year-old son about being a polite host for his guests. I guess you can call it a conversation, I did most of the talking. But you can watch 3 minutes of that talk here. I was trying to make him aware of greeting people, being intentional when saying goodbye to guests, and being grateful for any gifts he may receive.
I hope you enjoy scrolling through these photos. Maybe you can glean some inspo for hosting your next party!
Growing up on a farm and working alongside a lot of Mexican people through the years, I’ve always been interested in their culture. I feel like this one little movie gave me so much more insight into this tradition and gave me another way to connect with my friends. I’ve since enjoyed hearing stories from my Hispanic friends about the way they celebrate Dia de Muertos in their own families.
I encourage you to take a few minutes to read up on the Dia de Muertos holiday. There are so many cool and thoughtful traditions sprinkled in the celebrations. And definitely go watch Coco this week!