This all-ages Day of the Dead event was an extremely successful multicultural celebration with food, crafts, games, music and activities. The goal of the program was to educate kids and adults on a different culture while encouraging arts and crafts exploration (with culturally appropriate snacks).
Our first step was to come up with the activities and crafts for the event. I started brainstorming four months in advance. I had so many ideas that in the end, I went with stations so each person could get a taste of everything.
We had a pre-made foam skeleton kit leftover from last year's Halloween event, mini sugar skull painting, papel picado (a traditional tissue paper craft), marigold paper folding, coloring sheets and word searches. We also came together at the end of the event for Bingo and a piñata.
We had light refreshments and a Spanish and Day of the Dead culture lesson prior to the crafts. I did research into the holiday and found many free resources online that helped immensely, such as the bingo cards, word searches and coloring sheets. The goal was to be as informative as possible while also having fun.
We created a Facebook event for the program, and more than 450 people indicated that they were interested.
I set up a Día de los Muertos library display with the program poster a month prior to the event. The display featured books on the holiday as well as some of the decorations for the event.
I also promoted during my other programs, such as story time and our drive-in movie. In addition, we had sugar skull-themed coloring sheets set out as a passive display during the week leading up to the event. This all combined provided a substantial turnout of over 60 attendees.
Overall, I spent about $75 on supplies, decorations, crafts, food and prizes for Bingo. I utilized many materials we had on hand and purchased some themed plates, streamers, a piñata and centerpieces. I made some of the food items myself, including a sugar skull fruit dip. Making and reusing supplies already on hand kept the price from becoming too outlandish.
A volunteer and two staff members spent about an hour and a half getting the room ready with decorations, food and crafts. The food was laid out over two tables, and a traditional ofrenda or altar was made with books about Day of the Dead, tea lights and wooden decorations.
We hung the piñata from the ceiling as well as a papel picado banner across the front doors leading into the conference room. I was scrambling a bit to get it all ready as patrons arrived up to 15 minutes early, so advanced set-up is key to a stress-free program.
We began the event with a cultural lesson that included light audience participation and a mini Spanish lesson. We then broke off into groups for light refreshments including chips and salsa, fruit dip, cupcakes and punch.
We left 40 minutes for everyone to complete the crafts in rotation, then came together at the end for two rounds of bilingual Bingo (see Attachments at right).
To close out, we had a trap-door piñata with trailing strings for the kids to pull and let out the candy, as safety was a priority. Altogether, there were about 60 people in attendance, predominantly children ages 5 to 9 and adults. Staff received many compliments post-event, and attendees stayed for pictures.
Many patrons from different ethnic backgrounds, walks of life and socioeconomic groups interacted in the program and learned about a different culture and holiday. It was so successful, it is sure to be repeated next year. Many patrons reported that they had a good time.
The program attracted substantially more attendees than anticipated, so next time we will spread out the event throughout the library, as well as have more materials for crafts. Be sure to leave plenty of prep time and have a good budget for craft materials and snacks. The bilingual Bingo and pinata were the most fun aspects, but be sure to include some learning as well.
About This Library
North Columbus Public Library is a branch of the Chattahoochee Valley Library system serving the community since 1993. We are funded by the Muscogee County School District and are staffed by 14 individuals. Our mission is to be your place, your partner, your library. Through reading and discovery, we improve our community’s quality of life. We believe an enthusiastic, well-trained staff is essential to meeting community needs. We seek to deliver our service with heart and to share the joy of reading and discovery. We want our community to feel welcome and our staffing to reflect our community. We strive to know who we are here to serve, where we are needed most, and how we can provide access for all.