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overhead photo of four completed handmade Dia de los Muertos Masks upcycled from plastic milk cartons and using popsicle sticks laying down with mini pumpkin in the upper right corner

Dia de los Muertos Masks!

By Brenda Ponnay

Here’s a fun and simple craft to celebrate Dia de los Muertos, a Mexican holiday for honoring the dead. This holiday falls on November 1st and 2nd and is often celebrated with skulls. Unlike Halloween though, it is not about gore and horror. It is a happy holiday to remember friends and family who have passed on before us. It is a time for singing and dancing and parades.

Overhead photo of empty gallon plastic milk carton, scissors, three popsicle sticks, black felt, and a glue gun on a dark table

I thought it would be fun to make some skull masks out of milk cartons. They are translucent and durable, perfect for waving around in a parade!

Supplies to make Day of the Dead Skull Masks

1. one milk carton
2. black felt, paper or foam
3. a popsicle stick or tongue depressor
4. scissors
5. a black water-based marker
6. a glue gun  (always use with caution. Should only be used by an adult.)

How to make Day of the Dead Skull Masks

three overhead photos labeled 1, 2, 3 showing how to cut up an empty gallon-sized plastic milk carton with scissors

Step 1: Deconstruct your milk carton by first cutting off the top. You can do this by inserting your scissors into the milk carton spout and cutting down the side a few inches past the thicker plastic. Then cut around the top until the top is removed. Next cut down the sides and around the main panels. You should be able to get two panels per milk carton, though you could probably get creative and use the handle and sticker side too if you wanted to. The handle might make a fun nose.

overhead photo of two pieces of plastic cut from gallon-sized plastic milk carton and pair of scissors laying on a table

Step 2: Round your edges so they look like skulls.

close-up of making a plastic face mask out of milk carton with two eyes made of black felt and black sharpie drawing the eyebrows on

two side by side photos of a little blonde girl wearing hot pink shirt with black long sleeves and mom wearing black tank top as they add black round felt to plastic face to make eyes for masks

Step 3: Cut some felt circles for eyes (you can cut out the center of your circle by folding the circle in half). You can also use black foam or construction paper here but we had felt on hand so that is what we used. For the nose just cut out a heart and place it upside down. Position your felt where you would like it and the attach with a quick bead of hot glue. Rubber cement or paste would work here, you just need to allow more time for drying. For teeth, just draw in a long rectangle with your permanent marker, cross it once long ways and then a bunch of times up and down for individual teeth. If you want your skull to smile just round your rectangle up on the corners.

Little blond girl wearing hot pink vest over black long sleeved shirt and drawing at wooden table with a black Sharpie to make masks for Dia de los Muertos from plastic milk cartons and black felt

Step 4: Now it’s time to decorate! Day of the Dead skulls are often ornately decorated with hearts and flowers and plenty of curlicues. My daughter loved tracing my designs by overlaying her skull over mine.

overhead photo of blond little girl's head and hands while she uses a black Sharpie to draw a face onto a plastic milk carton to make a Dia de los Muertos Mask

Just be careful not to smudge your ink!

two side by side photos of blond little girl wearing pink vest over black long-sleeved shirt holding up a handmade Dia de los Muertos Mask in one shot covering face and in other revealing her face

Add your tongue depressor as a handle and you’re ready to celebrate!

Discover More Dia de los Muertos Crafts Here:



About the Author

Brenda Ponnay

Brenda Ponnay is an author and illustrator who loves to craft and make big messes when she’s not working on her books. Whether it’s painting, baking, drawing, making castles out of card...

Brenda Ponnay is an author and illustrator who loves to craft and make big messes when she’s not working on her books. Whether it’s painting, baking, drawing, making castles out of cardboard boxes or just doing the laundry with flair, Brenda Ponnay has learned that what really makes her happy is being creative every single day.

You can read about all her crazy adventures on her personal blog: Secret Agent Josephine.

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