Simple Paper Marigolds for Dia de los Muertos

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos, played a big cultural role in my childhood. You might know the holiday’s symbols of colorful skulls and skeletons, altars to ancestors with offerings (ofrendas) such as candles, photographs of loved ones, and the bright marigold flowers (cempazuchitl) that are known in Mexico as the flower of the dead.

The marigold flowers decorate altars and graves, often elaborately.

Today I’m sharing a simple way to make your own paper marigold flowers to decorate your home or altar for Dia de los Muertos. These pretty flowers can be made in any color, and you could easily apply this same technique for building a bursting Mother’s Day or birthday flower bouquet.

The materials are inexpensive and the flowers take mere minutes to make!

Simple DIY Paper Marigolds for Dia de los Muertos |

Paper Flower Supplies

This will make two paper marigolds

Step 1: Cut the Paper

  1. Cut the tissue paper in half so that you now have two sheets: 13″ x 20″ each
  2. Cut each of those pieces in half. You will now have four sheets that are about 10 ” x 13″ each
  3. Cut each of those pieces in half. You will now have eight sheets of paper that are about 7.5″ x 10″

Note: You could make these any size! Please take these dimensions as a starting point.

Simple DIY Paper Marigolds for Dia de los Muertos  |

Step 2: Fold and Cut the Paper

  1. Stack four sheets of paper.
  2. Pleat the paper in an accordion fold.
  3. Cut a half-circle shape from the each end. (You could also cut a point or zig-zag)
  4. Wrap a pipe cleaner around the middle of the paper to hold it in place. This will also act as the stem.

Simple DIY Paper Marigolds for Dia de los Muertos  |

Step 3: Fan out the Flowers

  1. Fan out the paper.
  2. Gently separate the first layer of paper from the rest, and move it up to form the top layer of petals.
  3. Gently separate the rest of the paper layers.
  4. Fluff out your flower.
  5. Repeat with the other stack of four papers.

Simple DIY Paper Marigolds for Dia de los Muertos  |


  • Try making those with tiny sheets of paper
  • Make gigantic flowers
  • Make multi-colored flowers with different colors of tissue paper
  • Cut different shapes off the edges of your petals
  • Make a stack of more pieces of paper for a fuller flower

Step 4: Display your Marigolds!

Simple DIY Paper Marigolds for Dia de los Muertos  |


More Day of the Dead Ideas

Mexican Tin Painting for Kids: TinkerLab

Make Day of the Dead Play Dough Cookies: TinkerLab

How to Make a Mexican Sugar Scull: Mexican Sugar

How to Make a Skull Paper Snowflake: Crafty Lady Abby

Gallon Milk Jug Sugar Skull: YouTube


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Rachelle Doorley Rachelle Doorley is a mom and an arts educator with a passion for helping families and teachers set up meaningful creative projects for kids. She's the author of the popular kids’ craft book and bestseller, TinkerLab: A Hands-on Guide for Little Inventors, and her articles and ideas on creativity and arts education have been featured in School Arts Magazine, Real Simple, and FamilyFun. Rachelle has an art studio. in Palo Alto, CA where she seeks out ways to make every day creative. Join the TinkerLab circle through our FREE newsletter.