As most of us prepare our costumes and decorations for Halloween, others are also preparing for Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). This holiday honors deceased loved ones and celebrates the continuation of life during All Saints Day and All Souls Day (November 1st and 2nd). Many Latin American and other cultures celebrate this holiday in believing that death does not end our connection with others—our love will always remain.
Dia de los Muertos focuses more on being a joyous occasion rather than a sad one. Traditionally, decorations include bright colors, skeleton figures dressed in festive outfits, altars, vibrant marigolds, candles, “papel picado” (paper cutouts), special dishes, and sugar skulls. Each of these items are brought out and decorated to welcome the souls and ancestors of loved ones to celebrate life.
I was recently inspired to create Disney-themed sugar skulls after visiting the display at Disneyland. Dia de los Muertos and Disney are two cultures that are very important and personal to me so I decided to combine them and create this DIY craft. Here are the materials you’ll need and the steps to make your very own Disney-themed sugar skulls:
Materials you will need:
- 1 large bowl
- Sugar skull mold
- Meringue powder
- Granulated white sugar
- Icing pens and other decorations (afterwards)
Let’s get started!
(Each batch yields 2 sugar skulls)
- Place newspaper around your work area to help keep clean and some extra on the side to let your sugar skulls dry. Yes, it may get a little messy.
- Pour 1 cup of sugar and ¼ cup of meringue powder into a large bowl. Combine together with a whisk until smooth and free from large clumps.
- Time to get your hands dirty! Add 3 teaspoons of water into the bowl and mix thoroughly with hands. Keep in mind how much water you add — too much can turn the mixture into liquid form.
- Mix well with hands until every bit of sugar is moistened. If your fingerprints remain when squeezing the sugar in your hand, it is ready to mold. It should feel like cool “beach sand.” If it doesn’t hold together, the mixture is too dry. If that’s the case, I have a solution for you (keep reading)!
- Form the mixture into a ball and press into the sugar skull mold until completely filled. Wipe off any excess sugar and smooth out the back with a spatula.
- Let the mixture sit in the sugar skull mold for about 5 minutes. Place the back of the skull onto the newspaper, lift the mold carefully, and allow it to dry.
- If your mixture was a bit too dry, do not worry! Proceed with the same steps above, but let your mold sit for about 10-15 minutes instead of 5 minutes before placing on the newspaper. (Suggestion: If you are still not satisfied with your skull, you may return it to the bowl and begin again.)
- Allow the skulls to harden for at least 4 hours or overnight. To be safe, I let mine dry overnight.
- Once hardened, the sugar skulls are ready to decorate! Get creative and let your imagine go wild with your sugar skulls.
Take a look at the Disney-themed ones I’ve made: Minnie Mouse, Mickey Mouse, and Jack Skellington. Use different colored icing that represents the characters you want and have fun with decorating! I also placed some bows on Minnie and Jack with flowers to represent marigolds for Dia de los Muertos. The beauty about decorating sugar skulls is creating them to represent who you want them to be.
Keep in mind that these sugar skulls are not meant to be eaten and can last up to about a year.
Since 2007, Disneyland Park has been inviting guests to celebrate Dia de los Muertos at Zocalo Park in Fronierland with their elaborate displays. If you would like to have an idea on how it’s celebrated, be sure to check out the display the next time you’re at the park before it’s gone!
Have fun while making your sugar skulls and don’t forget to share pictures of your skulls with us @DisneyExaminer on social media!
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