These Day of the Dead candelarias are perfect for your ofrenda. I know because I made this set for the one I’m building in my home this week! Candles are an integral part (more on that in a bit), but it’s dangerous to leave a lit candle burning all day or evening. These little battery-operated tea lights not only do the job, but they give off a warm and glowy vibe.
NOTE: On the night of Dia de Muertos, I do plan to use real prayer candles.
What’ll you’ll really love about this project is almost all the supplies can be found at the dollar store. Or even a thrift store.
The meaning of candles for Dia de Muertos
Candles are essential when it comes to building an ofrenda. The flame represents eternal hope, and I like to think it also represents life. That even though someone passed on, their spirit is alive, the flickering flame reminds us of that. It’s common to use traditional prayer white candles – but honestly, people have become so creative, anything goes as long as it tells your story and is meaningful to you. People often ask how many candles and while there is no set number, you’ll often see at least four candles to represent the four directions to help the dearly departed find their way to where they are being honored.
These candelarias serve double duty because they show the eternal flame of hope (via battery-operated tealights), as well as making my ofrenda look mucho fancy.
Supplies for Day of the Dead candelarias
2 candle jars (or jars, cans, etc)
2 chunky candlesticks (wood, glass, resin, etc)
(Or use any other embellishment of choice)
Def check out your local Mexican import shops or thrift stores to find a lot of these items. And get creative! My best tip is to choose an embellishment that has a flat back (for the front of your candelarias). This will make it easier to glue down. You can use a large pendant, a small plaque, a small picture frame, a mask – you get the idea!
Remove price stickers from all jars and candlesticks.
Use an alcohol wipe to clean the glass so it is free of debris.
Turn the candle jar upside down on a level surface.
Add glue to the top of the candlestick and place it top down on the candle jar.
Let dry for an hour.
Decide what you want to paint on three of the sides of the candelarias. Once you decide, go ahead and paint it on! You can even try the reverse painted glass method!
Paint on your designs and if you use the multi-surface paint, you won’t need to seal it. But if you use regular craft paint, use a brush on sealer so the paint won’t chip.
Once the paint/sealer is fully dry, Use hot glue or e6000 to affix the ornament to the front of the candelaria. If you don’t use hot glue, set the candelaria down flat so the ornament won’t slide. TIP: You can use hot glue to hold the piece in place as the e6000 dries.
Fill the candle portion with a flower, orange beads, even wrapped candy.
Add the battery-operated tea lights. I used two per candelaria.
Other ideas for candle holders:
- Small cans
- Glass jars that you can paint of decorate
- Ceramic boxes
- Glass tumblers or goblets
And if you don’t need candle holders, you can always make these as candy jars or even memory jars. Have everyone write down a favorite memory and place it in the jar. On Dia de Muertos, you can take them out and read them aloud to honor your loved one who passed away.
Thanks for checking out my project! Here is a wonderful video about making ofrendas, I promise it will give you lots of inspiration.