I’ve always been intrigued by the Mexican tradition of Dia de los Muertos (also Day of the Dead), which incorporates symbols that we typically think of as “creepy” like skulls and bones…but is actually a true celebration of departed loved ones and life! Instead of being dark and brooding, it’s a holiday that’s brimming with color, sparkle, flowers, and great food — which sounds to me like a great excuse to throw a party! This year, we teamed up with Veuve Clicquot to throw the ultimate Dia de los Muertos party. Click through for all the fun captured by Mia Baxter, and stay tuned for the full menu and Clicquot pairings tomorrow!


We decided on a late-afternoon gathering with a posole-and-toppings bar, plus a few other Mexican-inspired nibbles that paired perfectly with the fizzy bottles of Veuve Clicquot that were chilling on the buffet.

Jenn Rose designed these dark-and-pretty invitations to set the tone for the party. Download the design here, print onto card stock, handwrite the details on the back, and pop them in the mail for your own Day of the Dead fête!

Pop, fizz, clink! To me, Clicquot sets the standard for great champagne. Just the sight of that gorgeous marigold label gets me in a party state of mind! I like to use a really wide champagne bucket so several bottles can be iced down at once (fewer trips back and forth to the kitchen for me!), and this one got dressed up with a vibrant floral garland.

Speaking of flowers, our talented friends from Sweet Magnolia Floral Studio created this gorgeous display of peonies, ranunculus, roses, cacti, and anemones — and crowned it with bang-for-the-buck carnation garlands strung overhead.

 

(and here’s an easy tutorial on creating your own carnation garland!)


When working with a profusion of different flowers and colors, it can be helpful to choose a spectrum of shades to provide a cohesive feel — for this look, we stuck with “hot” colors like orange, yellow, red, and fuchsia inspired by the marigold label of the Clicquot bottle.

I’d been wanting to try making posole, the traditional Mexican soup, for ages, so this was the perfect opportunity. We kept ours vegetarian to accommodate various dietary restrictions, then provided a profusion of toppings for flavor and color. Stay tuned for the delicious recipe tomorrow!

Teardrop Pixie Dress


I love creating a menu that includes an interactive component for guests to participate in at the party. This top-your-own posole bar added so much color to the buffet with radishes, corn, pico de gallo, cilantro, cotija cheese, limes, tortilla strips, and more.

Skulls are the most recognizable symbol of Dia de los Muertos, so we infused them into just about every element of the party.

Jessi and I pop the cork on the Clicquot! By the way, did you know that you shouldn’t hear a big pop when you open a bottle of champagne? It should sound like a “kiss” of sound (you don’t want to lose a lot of champagne by having it spurt out of the bottle!) Here are a few tips on doing it right…

How to open a bottle of champagne:

  • After removing the foil wrapping and the cage, hold the bottle at a 45-degree angle away from any guests.
  • Hold the cork with your fingers and twist the bottle not the cork – allowing the cork to slowly ease out. Apply a bit of pressure so that the cork slips out as slowly as possible.
  • Hold onto the bottle for a few seconds to let the gas escape, then pour perfectly bubbly Clicquot into each guest’s glass.


Jessi, Kelly, and Chanel lounge in the grass, champagne in hand while they soak up the last rays of late-afternoon sun before the fall chill sets in. In traditional Dia de los Muertos celebrations, people offer up alcohol to their ancestors– so what could be more fitting than a Veuve Clicquot toast?

Chanel wears the Intimately After Hours Lace Maxi. Kelly wears the Stone Tassel Bolo necklace.


The spirit of Dia de los Muertos matches perfectly with Clicquot – a shared focus on bringing together family and friends. 

The idea behind Dia de los Muertos is to set aside a day to remember deceased family members, as well as celebrate loved ones who are still on earth. It’s all about preserving family connections, and usually includes some kind of “altar” made from candles, fresh flowers, items that belonged to ancestors, skulls, and statues.

Jessi plays the part of tango dancer with a rose between her teeth (and a bottle of Veuve Clicquot in hand!)

Free People festival bodice mini dress


We cozied up my wood deck with a vibrant rug (borrowed from my friend Claire) and tossed around a few extra stems of roses and carnations.

Chanel digs into her posole as she balances a dramatic flower crown made by Sweet Magnolia Floral Studio from peonies, roses and ranunculus.

Jenn Rose plays matchmaker with a festive pair of skulls.

I wanted to live in the gorgeous flower crown, and this Teardrop Pixie Dress.

Since I rarely have enough of the same style champagne flutes for everyone at a party, it’s a good thing I’ve learned to embrace a mismatched approach. These are a mix of my great-grandmother’s, plus flutes from Anthropologie and coupes from BHLDN.

Q: When does a skeleton laugh?

A: When something tickles his funny bone.

(cue the rotten tomatoes.)

Kristen wears a Mes Demoiselles Full of Grace Dress and Free People embroidered kimono jacket.


Chanel made these insanely cute skull cascarones. Here’s the step-by-step:

1. Cut black tissue paper into 2-inch squares, set aside.
2. Using the handle of a knife, firmly tap the larger end of an egg to crack and carve a 3/4-inch hole out of the shell. Drain egg contents, rinse out and allow to dry. Once dry, fill with confetti.
3. In a small bowl, combine 1 part Mod Podge with 1 part water. Brush mixture around opening of the egg, and place one black square over opening. Use brush to smooth out and adhere tissue paper square, and repeat with additional squares until the entire egg is covered.
4. Once dry, use puff paint (we love this set!) to carefully pipe skull detailing onto egg, as pictured above. Allow to dry completely, and enjoy on Dia de los Muertos!


Final step: break onto someone’s head, and watch the confetti fly! Kelly was a good sport.

Stay tuned for all the recipes tomorrow – we’ve got a build-your-own posole bar, jicama and avocado salad and skull macarons, all designed to pair perfectly with a fizzy flute of Veuve Clicquot!

*all photos by Mia Baxter, flowers by Sweet Magnolia Floral Studio.

10 comments
  1. 1
    Tess | October 20, 2014 at 10:38 am

    Glad to learn more about this holiday, and the photos of your festive gathering are beautiful!

    Reply
  2. 2
    arielle | October 20, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    seriously love that skull with flowers for eyes and those ‘day of the dead’ invites. such a cute idea!

    love, arielle
    a simple elegance

    Reply
  3. 3
    Jessi Afshin | October 20, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    Loving the tips on popping the champagne (the right way)! SO helpful 🙂 Such a beautiful party! xx-J

    Reply
  4. 4
    Kelly C | October 20, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    I can’t wait to make some cascarones! (And drink some Veuve Clicquot while doing it.)

    Reply
  5. 5
    celine @aquahaus | October 20, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    I liked that joke! Gorgeous party.

    Reply
  6. 6
    Maya | October 20, 2014 at 11:32 pm

    Loved this post, as DOTD is my favorite holiday of the year!! The cascarones are super cute, I’m definitely making some; maybe even adapt the idea for Easter. I’ll say, I missed the marigolds as part of the decor… Marigolds are synonymous with DOTD and in Mexico they are only used for this occasion; they’d be the perfect complement to the Veuve bottles 🙂

    Reply
  7. 7
    Loverly | October 24, 2014 at 10:35 am

    Love those flower crowns and decor!

    Reply
  8. 8
    katiebellharris | October 2, 2018 at 1:52 pm

    I am wondering if you can share where you bought some of this decor? I love the ceramic black and white painted sugar skull, and the darker skull with the flowers in the eyes. Where did you get these? Or would you recommend a certain place to shop for Day of the Dead decor? Thank you for the inspiration!

    Reply
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