How to Make Paper Marigold Flowers for the Day of the Dead


If you want to know how to make paper marigold flowers to decorate your Day of the Dead ofrenda, you are in the right place. Today, I will show you three different ways to make them and share a little about the significance of this beautiful flower for the Día de los Muertos celebration.  

Three paper marigold flowers in a black flower base on top of a white table with papel picado.

What is the Cempasúchil Flower? 

Mexican Marigolds, as they are known in the United States, are vibrant and aromatic plants native to Mexico and Central America. Their pungent fragrance not only adds to their ornamental appeal but also helps deter garden pests.

They come in a variety of colors and are a great companion for tomatoes in my experience. 

This flower is beautiful in both color and name, the latter which comes from the Náhuatl language, cempoalxóchitl – cempoalli “twenty” and Xóchitl “flower,” so its meaning is “flower with twenty petals” or “twenty flowers.”

Its more popular name in Spanish is cempasúchil, but you can also find it as zempasúchil. For many years, when I was a child, it was also known as cempazúchitl. It's correct either way. Choose your favorite. 

A close up of orange marigold and white flowers.

Marigolds and the Day of the Dead Celebration

Beyond their medicinal and decorative uses, these pretty flowers hold cultural significance; they play a very important role during the Día de los Muertos celebration. 

In pre-Hispanic times, the Mexica related the yellow color of this flower with the sun; for this reason, they used it on altars, ofrendas, and burial sites dedicated to their dead.

The belief is the marigolds, with their vibrant color and pungent aroma, guide the souls of the departed back home during the Day of the Dead on the first and second of November.

Families scatter marigold petals on their floors and use the entire flower to decorate the ofrenda, among other things. 

RELATED POST: 7 Day of the Dead Activities To Do with Kids

An Easy Craft

It's tradition to use real cempasúchil flowers for this Mexican holiday, but if you can't find them or don't have them, making them out of paper is the easiest thing in the world. 

A pair of scissors, a ruler, pipe cleaners and a piece of paper on a table.

This post may contain affiliate links to Amazon and/or other stores, which we add to save you time looking for things you may need. If you use these links and make a purchase, we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. For more information, please read our privacy policy.

This DIY project requires no template or hot glue gun, just a few materials, including:

  • Paper – In my opinion, the best is crepe paper because it's flexible, a little more resilient, and gives the flower a better shape. But if you can't find it, you can also make beautiful marigolds out of tissue paper. 
  • Pipe cleaners – To hold all the pieces of paper together and to create the stem. You can also use wire or cord.
  • Ruler, pencil, and scissors.

​Tip: If you live close to a Dollar store there is an even easier way to make them with even fewer materials, I'll tell you about that below. 

Paper Flower Variations

You can create different looks. Here are some examples.

Different sizes: Cut larger or smaller squares to make the size you need. Smaller for the top of the ofrenda or to put in your hair; bigger for your house, school or larger displays.

Different colors: The traditional color is yellow or orange but you can make them in other colors such as purple, red, blue or green. 

Multicolor: ​Combine papers in different orange or yellow tones in the same flower. You can also combine different colors in different types of papers to give a different texture. (Check out the video).

A yellow paper marigold flower next to squares of orange crepe paper and yellow tissue paper.

Using a pom pom garland: If you live near a Dollar store (like the Dollar Tree Store or 99 cent store), you can find packages with tissue paper sheets already cut and folded into strips. It is called a “pom pom garland.”

Purple pom pom garland made of tissue paper.

These pom pom garland flower petals are rounder. So to create the shape of the cempazúchitl flower, you just have to make the same cuts as we do with the crepe paper flowers described below.

Then, open them to create the flower. Look at the difference in these photos.

flores de cempazuchitl moradas para día de muertos

​Let's make them. 

How to Make Marigold Paper Flowers for the Day of the Dead

Depending on the size, you can get about 8 flowers using a roll of crepe paper.


  • I roll crepe paper or a few sheets of tissue paper in different colors. (orange and yellow are traditional).
  • Ruler
  • Pencil or pen
  • Scissors
  • Green wire, pipe cleaners, or cord


First, take the crepe paper roll. It comes folded in multiple layers. While it’s still folded, cut a 4-inch (8-10 cm) section, which results in having a handful of layers of paper sheets when you are done. 

Note: You can make a bigger cut for bigger flowers.

A person cutting a piece of crepe paper next to a ruler.

Next, cut through the center of each folded end to create multiple flat sheets. Take six or seven layers of the 4 by 4-inch sheets and lay them on top of each other.

Make an accordion fold: make a 1/2 inch fold, then flip the entire group of sheets over and fold again, alternating until completely folded.  

A person is holding a piece of crepe paper folded like an accordion.

Take a piece of wire, pipe cleaner, or cord and twist it carefully around the center of the accordion. 

A person holding a strip of folded crepe paper with a green pipe cleaner attached to it.

Trim the edges of each side of the accordion strip to form rounded corners. Then, make two or three straight 1/4 inch lengthwise cuts from the edge towards the center on both sides.

Carefully separate each sheet from the other, being careful not to tear them, until the flower is formed. 

A person separating layers of crepe paper to make a paper marigold flower.

That's it! It's that easy. Repeat as many times as you want.

Now you are ready to decorate your ofrenda with these beautiful marigold paper flowers, put them in your hair, or decorate your house.

Paper marigold flowers on a vase on top of a white table decorated with papel picado and a sugar skull.

I hope you have a beautiful Day of the Dead celebration.

Silvia Martinez
Latest posts by Silvia Martinez (see all)

Sharing is caring!

Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

As Seen On