Activity 2: Paper Marigolds

Make your own Flor del Muerto (Flower of the Dead) and learn about its importance to the celebration of Día de los Muertos.

About the History:

Marigolds are one of the most important components of Día de los Muertos celebrations. The flowers are used in the altars, laid out in cemeteries, and displayed for celebrations. Marigolds’ bright colors and strong smell are thought to reach the dead in the underworld and guide them back to the living so that they can be reunited with their families and feast on the offerings laid out on their altars or headstones. Marigold petals are also strewn on the ground to provide a pathway between worlds. In Mesoamerica, the marigold flower was used for medicinal and spiritual purposes.



  • Tissue paper in orange, red or yellow. (If tissue paper is not available, try colored paper or coffee filters.
  • Scissors
  • One pipe cleaner per flower cut in half, preferably green. (Tip: Trash bag ties or a staple in the middle of the flower will also work.)

Step 1

Cut four or more squares of tissue paper. The more squares, the bigger the flower. You can also use more than one color and alternate between colors.

Step 2

Stack your tissue paper squares on top of each other and then fanfold them horizontally.

Step 3

Tie a pipe cleaner around the middle fold and then twist it so that the paper is secure. Make sure the end is pointed down from the thin part of the fold to create a stem.

On both sides of the paper, carefully peel back each layer. Once all the layers are pulled back, fluff the paper to fill out the flower.

Optional: Cut the ends into a “V” shape or round them at the ends before you unfold the layers to create more realistic petals.

Step 4

You could also use purple or white tissue paper to create other traditional flowers. White flowers represent the sky, while purple is the traditional color for mourning.