How to Make Papel Picado for the Day of the Dead


Wondering what papel picado (“perforated paper”) is? It is a traditional Mexican folk art that involves cutting intricate patterns on colorful tissue paper. Here is a simple way you can make papel picado with kids of all ages as part of your Dia de los Muertos celebration.

Make this colorful banner for Dia de los muertos

Papel Picado craft for day of the dead celebrations

This colorful banner is used to decorate altars which is part of their Day of the Dead holiday traditions. Learn how to make papel picado with tissue paper using this simple method.

Traditionally, papel picado is made using a chisel and a mallet, but you can make them with these simple supplies that are easier to work with!

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supplies for making papel picado day of the dead banner like tissue paper scissors hole punch
Gather these supplies and start making your own papel picado for the Day of the dead decor

Supplies Needed for Making Papel Picado

Colorful banner from tissue paper for day of the dead
How colorful are these banner for dia de los muertos decor?

How to Make Papel Picado

Step 1

Measure the tissue paper 5″ in height and 7″ in width and cut several of them with the same measurements. I used around 8 layers of tissue paper.

Step 2

Fold the tissue paper in half and then fold once more in half. Use a ballpoint pen to draw your design at the folded edges. This will give you the design in four directions.

If you want them in eight directions fold them again as shown in step 2 of the picture below and then draw the design to cut.

–>Look below for some Dia de los Muertos banner pattern ideas and how to fold and cut them out.

Tip: When you are starting, try to make the designs with basic shapes like: circles, ovals, squares, long rectangles, hearts, diamonds, etc. Remember you have to draw the shape in half at the folded edges so you will have the full shape when you unfold it.

Step 3

To string them, fold 1/8″ of the tissue paper banner pieces over the cord and secure it with a piece of clear tape at the edges and in the middle. The banner is now done.

Day of the Dead (Dia De Los Muertos) Banner Patterns

Let’s start with the simple steps to make a flower design using a half circle and a half petal shape. You can use a clothespin or binder clip to hold the tissue paper while folding and cutting.

Includes step by step pictures on how to make papel picado day of the dead banner
Use simple shape cutout to make the day of the dead banner

Papel Picado Flower Pattern

  1. Measure and cut the tissue paper in the measurements you desire.
  2. After folding, draw the design using a ballpoint pen at the folded edges.
  3. Cut the design using scissors. Make sure you have sharp scissors to cut through all the layers of tissue paper.
  4. Unfold it to see the design you created. Add any additional designs if desired.
  5. Fold the tissue paper in half and then use a hole punch to create a border for the banner.
  6. The banner is done with a beautiful flower design in the center.
Step by step pictures showing how to make dia de los muertos banner decor using tissue paper
Another simple design layout for papel picado.

Papel Picado Simple Dia De Los Muertos Banner Pattern

Another example to make the banner is using a heart shape, hole punch, and decorative edge scissors.

  1. To create a design on the corners, you have to fold a small part of the tissue paper, draw the design, and then cut .
  2. For this banner, I used decorative edge scissors to give a design edge to the banner.

Make more designs using different color tissue paper to decorate both indoors and outdoors on the Day of the Dead or any special occasion.

Mexican folk art day of the dead banner hung on a white banckground
Stick the tissue paper cutouts on to a string for dia de los muertos banner

More Day of the dead crafts & ideas from Kids Activities Blog

How did your homemade papel picado turn out? What color and designs did you use?





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