How to Make a Shoebox Altar

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Skull images are common decorations on Dia de los Muertos altars.
Skull images are common decorations on Dia de los Muertos altars. (Image: Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images)

You do not need a large space or big tables to create an altar. Altars are about paying tribute to a loved one or creating a sacred space for practicing Wicca or other religions and can therefore be made as big or small as desired so long as they contain meaning for you. Shoeboxes are often used in the creation of smaller altars, including those for the Mexican Day of the Dead celebration, Dia de los Muertos.

Things You'll Need

  • Paint
  • Construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Photo of deceased loved one
  • Loved one's favorite items
  • Candles
  • Marigolds
  • Perforated paper
  • Water
  • Small glass
  • Linen, silk or cotton fabric
  • Stapler
  • Glue
  • Tape
  • Wiccan goddess statue

Dia de los Muertos Alter

Paint a shoebox in colors often seen in Dia de los Muertos altars, such as rich purples, pinks, reds and orange-yellow colors. Cover the inside as well as the outside of the shoebox, then allow it to dry for about 30 minutes.

Turn the box on its side so it stands tall lengthwise. Trace an arch on any color construction paper and cut it out. Attach it to what is now the top front of your box with glue or tape.

Place a photo of a deceased loved one you are honoring in the center of the box. Fill the box with items that remind you of the person, such as CDs by the person's favorite band, copied pages from favorite books and favorite knickknacks.

Fill the remaining spaces in the box and surround the box with candles, marigolds, perforated paper and small glasses of water. These items represent the four elements, fire, earth, wind and water, all of which are traditionally represented in Dia de los Muertos altars.

Wiccan Altar

Cover a shoebox, inside and out, in natural fibers, such as linen, silk or cotton. Attach the fabrics to the shoebox with a stapler, glue or tape.

Place the shoebox in a private area where it will not be disturbed. Turn the shoebox on its side lengthwise. Place a statue of the Wiccan goddess in the middle of the box; get a goddess statue from an online Wicca supply store if you do not already own one.

Set up your tools for magic in and around the altar, such as a pentacle symbol, chalice, wand and athame. Athames are a type of knife not used for cutting but rather for invoking power for spells. Fashion a wand out of twigs or other materials or purchase one from an online Wicca supply store. Pentacles and chalices may also be ordered from online stores.

Place candles around the altar, which are commonly used in Wiccan spells, as well as any other items sacred to your practice.

Tips & Warnings

  • Set up your Wiccan altar facing east, the direction of sunrise.

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