Easy Glow In The Dark Day of The Dead Lanterns

These non-toxic glow-in-the-dark Day of the Dead lanterns are so easy to make. They are a great Day of the Dead craft to make with kids. These would also make for a great party craft or altar decoration for Día de Los Muertos. During the Day of the Dead celebrations, people honor the loved ones that have passed. It is a joyful celebration full of life and color. So we decided to make these easy Day of the Dead glowing jars with the kids and keep our Latino traditions alive during this spirit-filled celebration.

Day of the Dead skull glow in the dark easy to make DIY lanterns.

Day of The Dead Craft For Kids

We are getting ready for our Day of the Dead party celebration on November 1st. We wanted to make a fun Dia de Los Muertos craft with the kids. We’re creating a Day of the Dead altar and wanted to make something with a fun and cool twist.

We figured we could do a glow-in-the-dark craft and came up with the idea of these super easy Calavera lanterns. We had all the materials for these at home and made them in no time. And I must say, we all were delighted with how awesome these look at night.

Day of the Dead or Dia de los Muertos skull glow in the dark lanterns, materials.

If you’re making a Day of the Dead craft or an altar at home, you must learn the meaning behind many of these traditions and what each element symbolizes.

What Does Day of the Dead Celebrate?

Many Latin American countries celebrate el Día de Los Muertos to honor the loved ones that have passed. People go to the cemetery and bring offerings like flowers and food to the graves of family and friends as a way to remember them. Decorating altars with colorful flowers and candles and cooking delicious food for the special day are all integral to the Day of The Dead festivities.

When Is Day Of The Dead Or Dia De Los Muertos Celebrated?

Although it may vary from region to region, the Day of the Dead celebrations occurs during November. Some countries call November 1st Día de Todos Los Santos (All Saints Day), while others call it Día de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead). And on November 2nd, it is a celebration called Día de Los Fieles Difuntos or All Souls Day.

For example, Guatemalans celebrate All Saints Day on November 1st, with some of the most beautiful and unique traditions. On the other hand, other countries like Mexico (and their famous altars and sugar skulls) celebrate Día de Los Muertos for more than one day, starting on November 1st and ending on the 2nd.

Day of the Dead Lanterns 

Altars created for El Dia de Los Muertos usually include candles. However, we decided to use lanterns instead of candles in our Day of the Dead altar and decorations because they are safer for kids. The light of the candles on an altar is believed to light the way for our ancestors to reach their final resting place. 

The Meaning of Sugar Skulls

For these lanterns, we used sugar skulls or Calavera designs. Sugar skulls have a special meaning in Day of the Dead celebrations. As the name implies, traditional sugar skulls are made from sugar using molds. They are then decorated and are usually very colorful.

Day of the Dead glow in the dark lanterns made with mason jars.

You place sugar skulls on Day of the Dead altars to symbolize the deceased person. You can also give them to friends and family as a gift on el Dia de Los Muertos to represent life. The colorful and often whimsical designs of sugar skulls represent the joy and vitality of life. They also represent the individuality of each person that has passed away. 

How to Make Day of The Dead Lanterns Glow in the Dark

To make the lanterns glow, you can use non-toxic, glow-in-the-dark paint. For the original craft, we used glow-in-the-dark sticks. These can be toxic, and some sticks can have glass inside. Breaking the glow in the dark sticks can be dangerous as well. Glow in the dark Day of the Dead or Dia de los Muertos skull lanterns made with mason jars.

That is why we have replaced the glow-in-the-dark sticks with safe, non-toxic glow-in-the-dark paint. We were thrilled with the result and love that now this craft is genuinely kid-friendly and safe! You can make these skull lanterns in three easy steps:

  • Using the Sharpie marker, paint a fun sugar skull or Calavera design on the front of each mason jar.  
  • Using the brush, paint the inside of the jar with glow-in-the-dark paint.
  • Let the paint dry before closing the jar.

Day of the Dead Lanterns Using Glow-in-the-Dark Sticks

As mentioned before, you can also make these using glow-in-the-dark sticks. This method is unsafe for kids, and I don’t recommend it as the glow-in-the-dark sticks are toxic. However, I include it since we made the original Day of Dead craft with this method.

  1. To make the glow-in-the-dark lanterns using glow sticks, start by cutting a glow-in-the-dark stick in half. Make sure that you use gloves when you cut the sticks. Do not let children handle or cut them as the chemicals inside the glow stick can irritate skin and eyes. Some glow sticks also have glass inside! _So be careful when handling them as there might be glass shards inside the glow stick.
  2. Pour the glow in the dark liquid inside the mason jar. Close the jar tightly and shake it, ensuring the liquid covers all the inside of the mason jars.   

You should use proper safety materials like safety glasses and gloves to protect your eyes and skin.

Day of the Dead crafts for kids

Here are some more fun ideas for Day of the Dead inspired crafts for kids.

More Day of The Dead Ideas You’ll Love

Best Day Of The Dead Craft Ideas With Cricut

Embrace the Dia de Los Muertos holiday with these Day of the Dead crafts ideas with Cricut! Break out your Cricut and do a project with your kids to honor the lives of loved ones that have passed away. These Day of the Dead crafts and free SVG files for Cricut are perfect for your Day of the Dead altar, for decorating your home, or as offerings. 

Day of the Dead best cricut crafts includes free svg files

15 Day Of The Dead Crafts For Kids

Here are fifteen fun and easy Day of the Dead crafts you can make with your kids this year. Making Day of the Dead crafts is a beautiful approach to talking about the holiday with kids.

Day Of The Dead 5 Minute DIY Dog Toy And BOOing Bundle

We think that Halloween treats and fun should not be just for kids (and adults) but also for our four-legged best friends too! To surprise our doggie, I created a BOO’ing bundle that reflects our family’s heritage and our obsession with everything Day of the Dead!

day of dead coffin gift box with dog treats

Day Of The Dead Recipes For Kids

These are some of the best Day of the Dead recipes for kids I have found and we’ve made many of these at home. Creating Dia de los Muertos recipes with the kids has been a great way for me to start conversations of the significance of the Dia de Muertos tradition and how it’s different from Halloween celebrations.

15 Traditional Day Of The Dead Recipes For Celebrating Día De Los Muertos

If you’re looking for Dia de Los Muertos traditional recipes to serve during the Day of the Dead you’ve come to the right place. These traditional Day of the dead recipes include everything from pan de Muerto and decorated sugar skulls to traditional Mexican dishes.

15 traditional Day of the Dead recipes to celebrate Dia de Muertos

Making these fun Day of The Dead Lanterns was so easy! First, my kids loved placing these skull lanterns around the house as Día de Muertos decorations. And after, they put the glowing jars on their nightstand as a reminder of this special day. Then, as I talked to my kids about the meaning of the Day of the Dead, they learned that it is not a sad holiday but a way to honor our loved ones. And these Día de Los Muertos lanterns give us time as a family to make fun crafts while learning about our Latino roots!

Glow in the dark Day of the Dead or Dia de los Muertos skull lanterns made with mason jars.

Easy Glow In The Dark Day of The Dead Lanterns

Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

An Easy Day of the Dead glowing jar to make with kids


  • glass mason jars
  • black sharpie or craft smart market
  • glow in the dark paints


  • small brush


    1. Using the Sharpie marker, paint a fun sugar skull or Calavera design on the front of each mason jar.  
    2. Using the brush paint the inside of the jar with glow-in-the-dark paint.
    3. Let the paint dry before closing the jar.

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Cesar Diaz
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24 thoughts on “Easy Glow In The Dark Day of The Dead Lanterns”

  1. This is a great idea. You could also use glow powder (available from Amazon) mixed with Modpodge and painted on the inside. The glow power recharges and you don’t have to worry about glass shards or irritating chemicals. 🙂

  2. Hi – I am wondering about disposal of these lanterns – do you throw them away? Are they hazardous waste? Or, can they be used again, and of so, how?

    They are super cool!

    • I would not use the mason jars again for anything else. You can wash them but using gloves as the glow liquid could irritate skin and reuse the mason jars only to make the lanterns again, not for anything else and specially not to put food in them! This is what I found about disposal: According to Cyalume Technologies, “Activated light sticks do not meet the definition of a Characteristic Hazardous Waste [term used by the EPA] and therefore, under the regulations, can be disposed of as a solid waste in solid waste landfills and incinerators unless prohibited by site-specific solid waste facility restriction.”.

  3. how original! and so easy to make with the kids! love Day of the Dead crafts that don’t break the bank! thanks for sharing


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