Sugar Skulls aren’t a typical Halloween craft and that’s because they’re not one! Calaveras de azúcar, as they are pronounced in Spanish, are a sweet decoration originating from the Latino celebration los días de los muertos or “The Days of the Dead.” Celebrated from October 31 until November 2, many Latinos remember their loved ones who have passed by setting up altars, having late-night parades through the streets and picnics in the cemetery. It is an extremely colorful and lively time of the year, sharing memories of their antepasados. A Day of the Dead altar is not complete without sugar skulls, and what better way to show your love than making your own!
I first made SUGAR SKULLS years ago when I taught Spanish at a local elementary and middle school. My students couldn’t wait until they were in 6th grade and got to make them with me! The hardest thing to find for this craft will be the skull molds, but I have seen them at craft stores this time of year…both at Hobby Lobby and at Michael’s. Meringue powder is easy to find at craft stores as well!
- plastic skull molds
- mixing bowl and spoon
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons meringue powder
- 2 teaspoons water
- paper plates, silicone mats, cutting board
- gel food coloring/icing
First, mix the dry ingredients together in the bowl. Sprinkle in the water and continue to mix until the sugar is completely moistened and becomes the consistency of wet sand.
Scoop some of the mixture into the mold and pack it evenly and firmly. Scrape off any excess.
Next, place a small silicon mat or paper plate over the mold. Carefully flip the mold over.
If you want to keep it on a paper plate, just carefully lift the mold. Otherwise, gently remove the silicon mat and lift the mold, leaving the skulls on a cutting board until they set up! Let the skulls dry and harden for 24 hours.
After the skulls have hardened completely, it’s time for the fun part…decorating! I used a plastic lid as a palate for L, and squirted a bit of every color out for her to use. Then she used toothpicks to decorate her skulls. The more colorful, the more beautiful!
Flowers play a big part in the Days of the Dead celebrations, so I was sure to add some to our skulls as well!
Now for the question you are all wondering: Can you eat the sugar skulls? Technically, yes. But even with my 6th graders, they realized that it’s basically a rock of sugar and nobody tried eating them. If you keep your skulls in a safe place, the same ones will last for years! My dad has some that I made at least 7 or 8 years ago…he pulls them out as decorations every Halloween! Check out your local library for some beautifully illustrated books on The Days of Dead!