Celebrating Día de los Muertos with friends: Presley’s Pantry

Día de los Muertos was this past week and as a special treat, I’ve asked some of my friends to send me photos and descriptions of their altars to share here on The Other Side of The Tortilla to show the variety of ways that people celebrate this holiday.

Today, I’m sharing the altar of my friend Nicole Presley from Presley’s Pantry.

Nicole Presley from Presley's Pantry made this altar for Día de los Muertos 2012. PHOTO/COURTESY OF NICOLE PRESLEY

Where in Mexico are your family’s roots?
My family is from Juarez- Chihuahua, and Tijuana. A mixed-bag of Mexican border towns.

Who does your altar honor?
My altar honors my uncle Robert. He’s the first person in my immediate family to pass on. His death strongly impacted all my living loved ones. We miss him dearly and hope that he appreciates his offerings. It also honors my fiance’s father Alfonso, who passed two years ago. 

Any special ofrendas or items on your altar?
I always put a shot of Vodka on the alter for my uncle. He loved having a good time and vodka was his drink of choice. Since he was a figurine artist, I make sure to include one of his pieces of work. His daughter is also a great artist and I include one of her pieces on his altar, knowing he would be so proud of her accomplishments as an artist. For Alfonso, I include coins and cookies. He had a huge coin collection in his days on this earth and they were one of the things that made him the happiest. 

Why do you make an altar for Día de los Muertos? How does it keep your connected to Mexican culture?
I make my alter in remembrance of my Tio. A way to celebrate his life and hope that where ever he is now he is able to know that we love him and miss him. And if all else fails…. At least he can enjoy his vodka. Then a few years ago when my fiances father passed, we started to celebrate his life through the alter as well. On November 2nd we play music all day long to celebrate this honorable men.

Who celebrates Día de los Muertos in the United States?

Though Día de los Muertos is a holiday celebrated in Mexico, the changing landscape of the United States means that a lot more people are celebrating Day of the Dead on this side of the border.

According to a study released in 2012 by the Pew Hispanic Center about Hispanic origin profiles of those living in the United States (whether U.S. born or foreign born), people with Mexican ancestry or who are Mexican by birth make up nearly 65 percent of all Hispanics in the U.S.

Day of the Dead mini altar on theothersideofthetortilla.com

Of course, this makes me happy because it means there are a lot of people like us who are looking to stay connected to their heritage whether by food, culture or traveling to Mexico (or at least reading about it).

RELATED: How to make sugar skulls for Day of the Dead

Golin, a worldwide public relations agency, conducted a nationwide survey of Hispanic adults in 2012 looking at who celebrates this holiday in the United States, why, and how they celebrate.

Here are their findings:

  • 28 percent of the people surveyed said they celebrate Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).
  • The top three ways in which people celebrate this holiday include buying or baking pan de muerto (25 percent), visiting a cemetery (21 percent) and building an altar (17 percent).
  • The top five reasons why people said they celebrate Day of the Dead include family togetherness (52 percent), maintaining traditions (51 percent), the food associated with the traditions (46 percent), teaching the traditions to their children (39 percent) and having the ability to share the best of both worlds of their Latino and American heritage (37 percent).
  • Where are people celebrating Día de los Muertos? Of those surveyed, 37 percent lived in the West, 29 percent in the Northeast, 27 percent in the Midwest and 21 percent in the South of the United States.


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¡Feliz Día de los Muertos!

la ofrenda

Today is Día de los Muertos, a day to celebrate the lives of our deceased loved ones. It is believed that on this day, the souls of the dead can travel back to earth to be with us. Leaving an altar with an offering for the souls ensures that they will find their way home.

I thought I’d share with you the altar that we made in honor of our family members who have passed away.

The altar includes flowers, religious candles, fruit, tequila, lime and salt, obleas con cajeta, water, dulce de guayaba cristalizada, a miniature tortilla press and molcajete, dolls my Dad brought me from a trip to Mexico when I was a little girl, pan de muerto, a pillow, colorful striped fabric, papel picado brought all the way from Mexico City and a handmade carpeta de encaje (ornamental lace). Confession: I ate the pepitorias that I made for the altar last night before I got the chance to photograph it, I just couldn’t resist.

I was interested in how others around the world constructed their altars and what they looked like so I curated a project you’ll see below. I asked friends, family and strangers on Facebook and Twitter to submit photos of their altars to share here on The Tortilla. I’ll continue to add items to the curated project over the next few days as I continue to receive more photos.

Here are a few more details from our altar in honor of José’s grandparents, my grandparents, and other family members who have passed away, including my uncle who was killed in an accident earlier this year. May their souls rest in peace.

tequila, limón y sal

pan de muerto

View the entire album of our altar by clicking on the thumbnails:

Thank you to everyone who allowed me to share their photos for this curated project. I spent the last few days searching and collecting items posted on Twitter that contributed to it. I hope you enjoy looking at all the photos as much as I did.

Last but not least, muchas felicidades to Marcela from Culture Mami, who won our apron giveaway from last week! I look forward to seeing photos of you wearing your calavera-print apron made by Lisa Renata. :)

  • How are you celebrating Día de los Muertos? Who are you honoring with your ofrenda?